By Shahji Adam
We are so close yet so very far to the start of the NFL season. Earlier, the league released the full schedule for all NFL teams. The question on everyone’s mind, at least in Dallas, is who the Cowboys will go against. This will be the first season in a decade without Jason Garrett as head coach and with Mike McCarthy taking the reins and Dak yet to sign his franchise tag, this will certainly be a season to remember in Dallas. Let’s go game by game and preview each matchup.
Week 1 @ LA Rams – Sunday, September 13th – 7:20 p.m. (NBC)
Right off the bat Dallas will make history in the 2020 season. They will be on the road to face the Rams in the new SoFi Stadium. The last time Dallas faced LA was week 15 of last season where Dallas steamrolled to a 44-21 win. Both teams clearly had not lived up to expectations as neither made the playoffs, however it seems both are destined for changes. The Cowboys blew everyone’s mock draft out of the water as they made possibly franchise altering picks. This will be a great test for the new players as they will face-off against a team that is only a couple seasons removed from the Super Bowl.
Week 2 vs Atlanta Falcons – Sunday, September 20th – 12:00 p.m. (FOX)
Oh, how the mighty have fallen. The Falcons have just not been the same since 28-3 and it showed last season as they finished 7-9 and missed the playoffs. On paper, this should still be a contending team with a former MVP in Matt Ryan and arguably the best wide receiver in the NFL with Julio Jones, but it is just not coming together. Atlanta will come into this game after a home game vs Seattle, which should be a tough one. Dallas obviously would love to start off 1-0 at home and judging by last season, it just might happen.
Week 3 @ Seattle Seahawks – Sunday, September 27th – 3:25 p.m. (FOX)
Another NFC West opponent for Dallas as they must go on the road to face a very tough Seattle team with consistent MVP contender Russell Wilson. The Wildcard round of last season’s playoffs is where these two last saw each other and Dallas just escaped 24-22. The Cowboys did not do well on the road last season (3-5) and it will be a very loud game going against the 12th man. I think this will be one of the games to watch if you’re a Dallas fan as you want to see if Dak can consistently go throw for throw with Wilson.
Week 4 vs Cleveland Browns – Sunday, October 4th – 12:00 p.m. (FOX)
I am trying my best to see anything positive about the Browns and last season did not help their case. The spotlight is on Baker Mayfield as last season he did not meet expectations by any means as he looks to somehow lift Cleveland to the playoffs. The Dallas defense will be tested again as the new young corners will have to slow down one of the best receivers in the league in Odell Beckham Jr. If the “HotBoyz” can play their game, then it should be a W put in the column.
Week 5 vs New York Giants – Sunday, October 11th – 3:25 p.m. (CBS)
Surprisingly, this will be the first division matchup for the Cowboys. Dallas had the season sweep last season as Daniel Jones struggled with turnovers. In 2019, Saquon Barkley averaged 74 rushing yards and 6.5 yards per carry against Dallas. The Giants will come into this game battle hardened after going against the 49ers and Rams in the previous two weeks. Dallas so far has a pretty good schedule and on paper should put this away. Also, this looks to be the first game Tony Romo will call for the 2020 Cowboys if anyone is interested!
Week 6 vs Arizona Cardinals – Monday, October 19th – 7:15 p.m. (ESPN)
Monday Night Football welcomes Dallas! This is a very interesting game as this is the first time Kyler Murray will play against the Cowboys. Another interesting factor to look at is that DeAndre Hopkins is now part of Arizona after the blockbuster trade with Houston. Hopkins has always been a thorn in the side for Dallas and with Larry Fitzgerald alongside him, expect Hopkins to have a great game. I think this is a very important game as this ends the three-game home stretch for Dallas before they go on the road for two division matchups.
Week 7 @ Washington Redskins – Sunday, October 25th – 12:00 p.m. (FOX)
The second division game for the Cowboys is on the road as this Redskins team might surprise everyone. All eyes will of course be on the number two overall pick Chase Young as we will have a pretty good sample size of how the defensive end will do this season because before this game he would have already gone against teams with good offensive lines like the Ravens, Eagles, and Rams. Dallas had the season sweep against Washington in 2019, so I expect the Redskins to come full force for this rivalry game.
Week 8 @ Philadelphia Eagles – Sunday, November 1st – 7:20 p.m. (NBC)
Talk about no love lost for this game. Both teams straight up hate each other as both have cost each other playoff opportunities since 2016. The Eagles stirred controversy during the draft when they selected star Oklahoma quarterback Jalen Hurts in the second round. Carson Wentz is only 27 years of age and was just given a $100 million contract from Philly, yet it seems they do not trust he will be healthy in time for the playoffs. Dallas also has quarterback troubles as Dak has yet to sign his franchise tag worth over $33 million and they signed former Bengals QB Andy Dalton. Before this game, the Eagles will have already faced the Ravens, 49ers, Bengals, and Washington so they will either score major upsets or fall behind in the race. I would circle this game to be the turning point in the NFC East.
Week 9 vs Pittsburgh Steelers – Sunday, November 8th – 3:25 p.m. (CBS)
The game before you go into the bye week is always one of the most important games of the season. 2016 was the last time these two saw each other as Dak and Zeke, who were rookies at the time, put on the game of the year and edged out the Steelers after Zeke’s game winning touchdown with nine seconds to spare. After back to back road games, Dallas would like to finish the halfway point at home with a win.
Week 10 – BYE WEEK
I love when the bye week is, because Dallas will basically have been halfway through the season. They will truly get to see where they are and this could be the time where if the season is going great, they can rest up and try to keep going. However, if something has gone wrong (knock on wood) then Dallas could make the necessary adjustments to try and save the season.
Week 11 @ Minnesota Vikings – Sunday, November 22nd – 3:25 p.m. (FOX)
Another season, another game against Kirk Cousins. Last season, Cousins finally got his revenge on Dak Prescott after throwing two touchdowns and zero interceptions to win 28-24. Prescott statistically had one of his best games of the season but was stopped on a key 4th down after a failed pass to Zeke. This is exactly why Mike McCarthy was brought in. Dallas failed to make the key decisions and necessary adjustments in games last season, and we shall see if things can change in this matchup.
Week 12 vs Washington Redskins – Thursday, November 26th – 3:30 p.m. (FOX)
This will be Mike McCarthy's sixth Thanksgiving Day game but his first with Dallas. The Thanksgiving game for Dallas has always had that playoff feeling, and it will for sure have that feeling against a division rival. We will have to see how the first faceoff went to be able to give a proper preview, but let’s talk about last season. During week two of 2019, the Cowboys handled Washington 31-21 and while they did face in a meaningless game in week 17, Dallas stomped the Redskins 47-16 to end the season on a somewhat positive note.
Week 13 @ Baltimore Ravens – Thursday, December 3rd – 7:20 p.m. (FOX)
Oh boy. I know every Dallas fan had a big gulp when they saw this on the calendar, especially with it being on the road. All I will say is every year we say we can be the best team in the NFL and Dallas eventually must do that consistently. Looking at this game, obviously MVP Lamar Jackson will be a major problem BUT I think the Cowboys defense matches up with the Ravens offense. For example, in the Wild Card Round of the 2018 playoffs, the fast and young linebackers of Jaylon Smith and Leighton Vander Esch helped limit Russell Wilson when he tried to go out of the pocket, and I think Dallas can do the same to Jackson. They will not fully shut him down, but the goal is to slow him down enough so the offense can pull ahead.
Week 14 @ Cincinnati Bengals – Sunday, December 13th – 12:00 p.m. (FOX)
Joe Burrow vs the HotBoyz. That will most likely be the headline throughout the NFL. Honestly, with how the league is, Burrow will either be a breakout star or a work in progress. Even if Burrow is playing great, the Bengals as of now do not have enough talent surrounding him to make an impact. The last time Dallas saw Cincinnati, Zeke broke off for a 60-yard touchdown to extend their winning streak to four in 2016. I will say this, if Burrow plays fantastic this season, expect this game to be moved up to primetime.
Week 15 vs San Francisco 49ers – Sunday, December 20th – 7:20 p.m. (NBC)
Judging by this game being in primetime, the league has expectations for this game to be superb. Now Dallas last faced the Niners all the way back in 2017, where the Cowboys absolutely destroyed in a 40-10 win. A LOT has changed since then as the 49ers are just coming off a Super Bowl appearance and have one of the most complete teams in the league. This game is very late in the season and if Dallas is struggling to find a playoff spot, then this will be a roadblock they will not look forward too. If both teams meet expectations, then this will probably be a playoff preview in the regular season.
Week 16 vs Philadelphia Eagles – Sunday, December 27th – 3:25 p.m. (FOX)
With this being the final game before the new year, I have a gut feeling this will be the most important game for both teams. Since 2016, the arguments and debates for who is the better quarterback between Dak Prescott and Carson Wentz have been non-stop. Both have had games against each other that have either been their best or their worst, but neither refuse to fully pull away in the argument. With both quarterbacks dealing with their franchises having starter level QB’s on their bench, the pressure is on as Dak and Wentz need to lift their teams into the postseason.
Week 17 vs New York Giants – Sunday, January 3rd – 12:00 p.m. (FOX)
As of now, the New York Football Giants pose no threat to the Cowboys due to the Giants not proving themselves since their last playoff run in 2016. Depending on how the season goes, Dallas will either rest their starters or this will be the game to hang on for dear life. Let’s hope it is not the latter and we get to see Andy Dalton in action. This is going to be a long season. While everyone is going to love to see the return of sports, I’m pretty sure Dallas Cowboys fans will quickly fall back to the love-hate relationship they have always had with America’s Team.