Cowboys schedule 2024: Ranking the most important games this season

Dallas Cowboys v Philadelphia Eagles
Dallas Cowboys v Philadelphia Eagles / Mitchell Leff/GettyImages

Many NFL analysts will pick the Dallas Cowboys to miss the playoffs entirely in 2024. While the Cowboys were quiet in free agency, did they get worse at any other positions than left tackle and running back? You'd be hard-pressed to answer that with a "yes."

They upgraded at linebacker and center and added important depth to their defensive line and cornerback rooms. More moves could be on the way between now, training camp and the season-opener in September.

The Cowboys face a tough schedule to repeat as NFC East champs. The Eagles are always looming and the Commanders and Giants both got better on paper. All 17 games are important, but these five could have a significant say in standings by the time January rolls around.

5 most important games on the Cowboys' 2024 schedule

5. Cowboys at Browns (Week 1)

The first game of the year won't make or break the Cowboys' season. However, this is a huge tone-setter for the new-look Cowboys. In years past, the Browns would be a nightmare matchup for Dallas. They're physical on both sides of the ball and love to run the football.

Playing in Cleveland will be a big litmus test for not only Dallas' offense, but Mike Zimmer's defense, which has historically stopped the run. A win would give this group a ton of confidence that it has exorcised some of its demons.

4. Cowboys at Falcons (Week 9)

This is a sneaky contender for the most important game on the schedule. The Falcons are wedged between heavyweights like the 49ers (Week 8), Eagles (Week 10) and Texans (Week 11). It also follows tricky fixtures against the Lions in Week 6 and Steelers in Week 5.

The Falcons might be the easiest opponent in that group of games. If the Cowboys slip up against two or three of those teams, at Atlanta becomes a must-win. Dallas cannot afford to lose vs the Falcons after playing the 49ers and Lions in Weeks 6 and 8, and with the Eagles and Texans looming in Weeks 10 and 11. Plus, it's always helps to stack wins against NFC teams for a potential end-of-season tiebreaker.

3. Cowboys vs Lions (Week 6)

This will be an emotional game given how last season's matchup ended. However, it could be a turning point in the Cowboys' schedule. For starters, Dallas heads into its bye in Week 7. It's always a bonus to enter an off week with a win, let alone a win against an elite team.

However, the Cowboys' post-bye week slate is daunting. It includes games in San Francisco and Atlanta and games at home vs the Eagles and Texans. A win over the Lions could set the stage for a dominant run from Dallas or a possible tailspin that wrecks their chances of winning the division.

2. Cowboys vs Bengals (Week 14)

The Bengals are an afterthought opponent relative to some of the teams Dallas will face, but they come at a huge point in the schedule in Week 14. From Weeks 12-16, the Cowboys have four highly winnable games: at Washington, vs the Giants, at the Panthers and vs the Buccaneers.

This follows a brutal stretch spanning Weeks 5-11. A win over the Bengals could give Dallas a potential five-game winning streak heading into their most important game of the year in Week 17. That could save their season give how unforgiving their early-season schedule is.

1. Cowboys at Eagles (Week 17)

It's impossible to project where the Cowboys and Eagles will be in Week 17, but recent history suggests they'll have close to an identical record. This game could very well determine the winner of the NFC East. The good news is that Dak Prescott always plays well vs the Eagles. The bad news? Dallas is notorious for shooting itself in the foot in big road games under Mike McCarthy. If they limit those mistakes, they can crush the hearts of Philly fans.

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