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Despite easy strength of schedule, Cowboys have work cut out for them

The Dallas Cowboys now know who, when, and where they’ll be playing this fall as the NFL has released the 2020 season schedule
Credit: ASSOCIATED PRESS
Dallas Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott (21) jumps into the end zone with a touchdown in front of Los Angeles Rams defensive back Darious Williams (31) in the first half an NFL football game in Arlington, Texas, Sunday, Dec. 15, 2019. (AP Photo/Roger Steinman)

DALLAS —

The NFL released its schedule on Thursday night and the Dallas Cowboys now know when they will be playing their opponents in the 2020 season. 

They’ve known who they would be playing since the final game of 2019, but finding out the full slate of games allows for some examination of what the Cowboys are in for during their upcoming campaign.

It’s become a tradition to look over the team's schedule and make a big deal out of it, but, in reality, too much of a fuss is made. There’s so much parity in the league now that it makes it extremely difficult to know who is going to be good from year-to-year. 

The playoff turnover in the NFL hovers around 50%. Therefore, deciphering a schedule this far in advance is usually an exercise in futility.

With that said, let’s do just that!

Here is the full schedule for the Cowboys in 2020:

Home games are in bold

Preseason

Thurs., Aug. 6 Pittsburgh in Canton, Ohio (NBC) 7:00 p.m.

Aug. 13-17 @ LA Chargers TBD

Aug. 20-24 BALTIMORE TBD

Aug. 27-30 KANSAS CITY TBD

Sept. 3-4 @ Houston TBD

DATE REGULAR SEASON (TV) KICKOFF

Sun., Sept. 13 @ LA Rams (NBC) 7:20 p.m.

Sun., Sept. 20 ATLANTA (FOX) Noon

Sun., Sept. 27 @ Seattle (FOX) 3:25 p.m.

Sun., Oct. 4 CLEVELAND (FOX) Noon

Sun., Oct. 11 N.Y. GIANTS (CBS) 3:25 p.m.

Mon., Oct. 19 ARIZONA (ESPN) 7:15 p.m.

Sun., Oct. 25 @ Washington (FOX) Noon

Sun., Nov. 1 @ Philadelphia (NBC) 7:20 p.m.

Sun., Nov. 8 PITTSBURGH (CBS) 3:25 p.m.

Sun., Nov. 15 BYE

Sun., Nov. 22 @ Minnesota (FOX) 3:25 p.m

Thurs., Nov. 26 WASHINGTON (FOX) 3:30 p.m.

Thurs., Dec. 3 @ Baltimore (FOX/NFLN/Amazon) 7:20 p.m.

Sun., Dec. 13 @ Cincinnati (FOX) Noon

Sun., Dec. 20 SAN FRANCISCO (NBC) 7:20 p.m.

Sun., Dec. 27 PHILADELPHIA (FOX) 3:25 p.m.

Sun., Jan. 3 @ N.Y. Giants (FOX) Noon

The numbers say that the Cowboys rank 30th in strength of schedule. That means that they should have one of the easiest roads for the upcoming year going by the winning percentage of their opponents from the 2019 season. Dallas will only play five teams, six games, against teams who made the playoffs in 2019, for example.

However, three of those games come in December, against the Baltimore Ravens, Philadelphia Eagles and San Francisco 49ers. That’s a tough road to go down if the Cowboys are in a playoff race, and especially tough if they are jockeying for postseason position. Luckily, Dallas does finish with the New York Giants, but it is a road game.

The early part of the schedule appears easier, but looks can be deceiving. The Cowboys open up the 2020 season as the opponent in the new stadium debut of the Los Angeles Rams. DeMarcus Lawrence took to Twitter to express excitement at the idea spoiling LA’s party but it won’t be an easy W.

After Dallas gets a crack at the 2018 NFC champions in their new building, they will be tested against two of the better quarterbacks in the conference, starting with Matt Ryan and the Atlanta Falcons coming to town in Week 2 for the home opener. That’s a tough offense to play early in the season when you’re adjusting to a new defensive scheme.

A week three match-up with Russell Wilson and the Seahawks in Seattle is another difficult game early on. The Cowboys got smacked on their last trip up to the Pacific Northwest in 2018, so they know the challenge that awaits.

The next three games are all at home, a bonus after the team didn’t get back-to-back home games in 2019. A game against the Cleveland Browns begins a mild four-game stretch for the Cowboys with teams that combined to go 18-45-1 in 2019, which also includes a Monday night game against the Arizona Cardinals.

November is when things start to get really interesting for Dallas. It begins with a trip to Philadelphia, who will be on a 10 day break after playing on Thursday Night the week prior. Then comes games against the Pittsburgh Steelers, who should be improved, and the Minnesota Vikings on the road. Thankfully, Dallas’ bye week comes in-between those games.

After they play the Vikings coming off their bye, the Cowboys’ annual Thanksgiving game is against the rival Washington Redskins before December kicks off with a big match-up against the Ravens. That Thursday night game in Baltimore concludes a brutal stretch of three games in 11 days for the Cowboys with a harsh December ahead of them. 

Overall, despite the numbers, it doesn’t feel like one of the easiest schedules in the league. The Cowboys will face off against some of the best QBs in the league and, from mid-season on, it’s a tough slate. Dallas will need to get off to a good start to put themselves in position to withstand any late season challenges.

Now that the schedule is out, how many wins do you see the Cowboys collecting in 2020? Share your predictions with Ben on Twitter @BenGrimaldi.

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