3 ways the NFL screwed Cowboys with 2024 schedule

NFC Wild Card Playoffs - Green Bay Packers v Dallas Cowboys
NFC Wild Card Playoffs - Green Bay Packers v Dallas Cowboys / Perry Knotts/GettyImages

The 2024 Dallas Cowboys schedule is out. As expected, the Cowboys are tied for the most primetime games of any team with six. After winning the NFC East last season, it's no surprise that more than half of Dallas' schedule is against teams that had winning records in 2023.

To be fair, the NFL did the Cowboys some favors with their schedule. They finish the season with six of nine games at home, where they were undefeated last year during the regular season. Their road foes during that stretch are extremely beatable as well.

There's something to be said for that, but the league also managed to screw the Cowboys in more ways than one. Upon first review of the 17-game slate, schedule-makers did Dallas absolutely dirty in these ways.

3. Cowboys have minimal rest in late November

The importance of rest during a 16-game regular season was impossible to understate. The importance has increased ten fold now that the season is 17 games long. Every team gets screwed by the nonsensical Sunday-to-Thursday turnaround, but the Cowboys face a nightmarish stretch leading up to their Thanksgiving showdown against the Giants.

Dallas will have three games in 11 days before the holiday fixture. They play at home against the Texans on Monday night on Nov. 18 before visiting the Commanders on a short week the following Sunday. They then face the Giants on Thanksgiving four days later on Nov. 28.

It helps that the Cowboys get Washington and New York during this stretch. They're two of just four teams on their schedule with a losing record. However, beating them could be more difficult considering the lack of rest and that they'll be coming off a dogfight vs the Texans in primetime.

2. Cowboys have a brutal start to the season

The Cowboys' early-season schedule could define their season. Five of their first seven games are against teams that made the playoffs in 2023. Three of those teams (the Ravens, Lions and 49ers) won their divisions. Not only that, but three of those games are on the road: at Cleveland in Week 1, at Pittsburgh in Week 5 and at San Francisco in Week 8.

Those five playoff teams -- Browns, Ravens, Steelers, Lions and 49ers -- had a combined 58-27 record last season. It's hard to take stock in win totals from the previous season, but the Ravens, Lions and 49ers are still some of the best teams the NFL has to offer.

It's never easy in the NFL to dig out of an early hole and the league didn't give Dallas an inch of breathing room to start the year.

1. Unforgiving post-bye week stretch

The Cowboys' bye week comes at a perfect time in Week 7, but their post-break schedule is a gauntlet.

They travel to Santa Clara in Week 8 to play the vaunted 49ers on Sunday Night Football. The difficulty of that matchup speaks for itself and Dallas follows it with a road game against the Falcons, who nearly made the playoffs last year with Desmond Ridder and Tyler Heinicke under center.

Atlanta now has Kirk Cousins to complement a talented collection of weapons that include Drake London, Bijan Robinson, Kyle Pitts, Darnell Mooney and Rondale Moore. The Falcons will be far from a walk in the park and they have a tremendous home crowd.

From there, the Cowboys return home to play the Eagles in Week 10 and they host the Texans on Monday Night Football the following week. The fact the Falcons are considered the "easy" game in that stretch speaks to its level of difficulty. Dallas could easily go 1-3 during this stint.

The NFL did them zero favors with their post-bye week slate.

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