We are less than three months away from the Dallas Cowboys beginning their season and in a lot of ways that feels like forever. Considering the way that last season fell apart when Dak Prescott was injured in late October, we have been waiting an extra long time to watch this team be competitive. Such is life in the National Football League.
When it comes to this season for the Cowboys every game is obviously going to matter, but things are going to be particularly tough at the end of the stretch when they play the bulk of their divisional games. The easiest way into the playoffs is winning your division and the NFC East is definitely up for grabs in 2021.
After the schedule was first released we spoke about how the league jammed two-thirds of NFC East common games into the final few weeks of the season. Perhaps the NFL is hoping for their favorite division to have some juicy storylines, or perhaps it is all coincidence.
Ultimately we care more about how the Cowboys are going to do in those games and at the outset it appears that they are underdogs in the eyes of one analyst.
NFL.com lists the Cowboys toughest four-game stretch and has them as the underdogs three times
Whether or not you think highly of the NFC East or not, there is no question that the Cowboys’ games against their rivals are the most important which means it is an easy conclusion to draw that the final handful of games of the season for Dallas hold some serious importance.
Playing four division games in a five-week stretch is rough regardless of how low-quality the other teams may be, and playing the team that won the NFC East last year twice in three weeks is an added challenge. Factor in that the non-NFC East game is an old NFC East team in the Arizona Cardinals, who soundly beat the Cowboys last year, and it makes sense how this will be a stressful December and January.
In looking at the schedule as a whole, is there any other nominee for the toughest four-week stretch? Maybe you believe the first four games are difficult because they feature contests against the reigning world champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers and a Los Angeles Chargers team that people think will be very good this year, but in the context of the playoffs it’s hard not to consider the cluster at the end.
NFL Media’s Cynthia Frelund recently outlined the toughest four-game stretch for every team in the NFC East and has the four Cowboys games from Weeks 14 through 17 as the “winner” for the Cowboys. What’s more is that she has Dallas as underdogs in a majority of those contests.
Dallas Cowboys win probability in Weeks 14 through 17 according to Cynthia Frelund
- at Washington Football Team (48.6%)
- at New York Giants (52.5%)
- Washington Football Team (49.1%)
- Arizona Cardinals (47.5%)
The Cowboys are only slight underdogs in three of the games, and for what it’s worth they did lose literally all four of these games last year (they were swept by Washington, lost at New York, and lost at home to Arizona). There is reason to believe in the Cowboys bouncing back in 2021, but for many it is something that they will believe when they see it.