The Dallas Cowboys schedule dropped last week to mixed reviews. Multiple foes look good on paper, though it never is as it seems. Here are my five thoughts.
Just seeing the Dallas Cowboys and NFL are going full steam ahead towards playing a 2020 schedule is enough to make any football fan smile. Plenty of details are left to hash out in due time, but as long as it happens and fans can watch, sign me up.
Predicting schedule difficulty in May is often a fool’s errand. Roughly half the teams from the previous years’ playoffs often don’t return. Heck, the 2018 Los Angeles Rams (13-3) looked like a dynasty in the making only to miss the playoffs last season at 9-7.
With natural miscalculations in mind, one still has to judge the opponents as they appear on paper and from recent history. Below are five thoughts on the Cowboys’ 2020 slate.
1) FINALLY A NON-GIANTS SEASON OPENER
Surely most Cowboys fans noticed this one right of the bat as a breath of fresh air. Dallas had led off against the Giants in four of the last five seasons. Sure it’s an exciting division rivalry game but the word overkill doesn’t even do this opening game rerun justice. Sorry Giants, beat ya later.
2) NO DIVISION GAMES UNTIL WEEK 5
The Cowboys start off with three straight, highly difficult conference tests with wildcard significance. However, not getting ahead or behind the eight ball in head-to-head division play until Week Five is a welcome sight.
The unusual delay allows a very talented Dallas team with a lot of new faces and starting components time to gel into one cohesive unit. This familiarity gained through experience playing together will be especially important in the trenches on both sides of the ball.
3) LATE SEASON COLD WEATHER ON THE ROAD
Playing late season, cold weather road games is not unusual. This schedule has its fair share starting in December. The Thursday night game at Baltimore on December 3rd could be rough.
Last season Baltimore hosted San Francisco two days earlier. The temperature was 40 degrees with 13 mph wind. Surely the wind chill brought it down to 30 degrees or so. Not to mention the Ravens were 14-2 last season. Quite the road task.
The very next week Dallas travels to Cincinnati for more cold weather fun. Then the winter slate winds down with the finale in New York on January 3rd. Buy a roof and heating system already, this isn’t the Alaskan Football League.
4) THE BYE IS SITUATED FAVORABLY
Some believe the bye comes too late in Week Ten. Nine games, two weeks rest, then seven games to close out a final playoff run. Sounds just right to me. The players should be much fresher during seven games to play after the bye, instead of finishing with nine straight like each of the last two seasons.
5) FOURTH QUARTER STRETCH IS DOABLE
The final four games of the season often decide a contender’s playoff fate. Facing the Bengals and Giants, even on the road, is a gift. If on the cusp and Dallas loses to the rebuilding Bengals (2-14) or a fateful finale with the Giants, it means they didn’t deserve it anyway.
The above games are very winnable. Which leaves two home games against top quality competition in the 49ers and Eagles. Both are likely playoff contenders. If the Cowboys are in need and can’t beat either at home, they would have earned their playoff seat on the couch.