Earlier this week the National Football League released the 2021 schedule and now we can properly assess how things may or may not shake out for the Dallas Cowboys throughout the upcoming campaign.
Most of us have high hopes that Dallas will be competitive this season and plenty of people find them to be the favorite within the NFC East, but ultimately all of the games will be played and a winner will be decided upon.
Speaking of the NFC East, this year offers a particularly interesting dynamic over the final five weeks of the season. This is something that Bleeding Green Nation’s Brandon Gowton and I discussed on the latest episode of the NFC East Mixtape, you can listen right above this paragraph, a weekly show where we talk about all things in the division that is accessible on both their feed and BTB’s. Subscribe to the Blogging The Boys podcast feed on Apple devices right here or on Spotify right here.
It seems as if the NFL really smashed together all of the NFC East action into the final five weeks of the season. This could have a huge payoff, or it could end in a spectacular disaster.
The NFL jammed two thirds of the NFC East common games into the final five weeks of the season
You have likely looked at the Cowboys schedule (we have player-specific wallpapers available for your phone right here by the way) and realized that they end their season with four division contest over their final five games. That is unquestionably a lot of NFC East action.
Here’s the thing, though. EVERY team in the division has a majority of their divisional matches mashed together near the end.
- Four of the last five games of the season for the Cowboys are within the division
- Three of the last four games of the season for the Giants are within the division
- Five of the last six games of the season for the Eagles are within the division (with a bye also in there)
- Washington’s final five games in a row are all within the division
There are 12 composite games played within the NFC East every year and a staggering 8 of them take place over the final five weeks of the season. This means that only 4 NFC East contest happen between Weeks 1 through 12 which runs all the way into early December. That is insanity.
In trying to think of why the league would schedule things this way BLG and I were both stumped. Obviously the NFC East brings in great ratings for the league, but why risk all of these games at the end like this? It is possible, speaking in the sense that anything is possible here, that one team could run away with the division up through Thanksgiving and then a majority of games that take place between teams out of major markets are significantly less relevant.
Consider that from Weeks 14 through 17 that Washington plays two division rivals each twice in a three-week stretch. Yes, you read that right.
Washington Football Team, Weeks 14-17
- Dallas Cowboys
- at Philadelphia Eagles
- at Dallas Cowboys
- Philadelphia Eagles
Who thinks this is a good idea? It is cheapening the value of divisional games to have any division rivals square off twice in a three-week stretch let alone for one team to do it twice in a month.
This whole thing is really difficult to understand as there again does not seem to be any sort of logic that supports the league procrastinating in scheduling NFC East games. What’s more is that they gave an enormous advantage to the Philadelphia Eagles over the final four games of the season.
Philadelphia Eagles, Weeks 15-18
- Washington Football Team
- New York Giants
- at Washington Football Team
- Dallas Cowboys
The Eagles get to play all three of their home divisional games over the final four games of the season. In what universe is this a level playing field for the division as a whole?
If we are being honest, there are always quirks in the NFL schedule that feel like they favor one team over another, but this whole NFC East business feels like a massive misstep from the league. While it is nice in that it affords every team an opportunity to get back into the hunt if they struggle through Thanksgiving, it also heavily tilts the spectrum of the season as a whole which feels awkward.