The full NFL 2019 regular season schedule was released last night. Here is my reaction to the Dallas Cowboys' schedule and analysis of how what I think it means for them next season.
Of course, a schedule can have a very different feel come September-December than it does in April. The teams don't change, but their circumstances can be wildly altered by the time they actually have to take the field.
Just ask the Cowboys' opponents from the 2015 season. Nobody was looking forward to playing that Dallas team coming off its 12-4 playoff run the year before. But all it took was a Tony Romo injury in the preseason to suddenly make the Cowboys a cupcake.
But for now, we can only react to what we know. Before we dive in, here's a quick reminder of the complete 2019 regular season schedule for the Dallas Cowboys.
- Week 1: New York Giants @ Cowboys
- Week 2: Cowboys @ Washington Redskins
- Week 3: Miami Dolphins @ Cowboys
- Week 4: Cowboys @ New Orleans Saints (SNF)
- Week 5: Green Bay Packers @ Cowboys
- Week 6: Cowboys @ New York Jets
- Week 7: Philadelphia Eagles @ Cowboys (SNF)
- Week 8: BYE
- Week 9: Cowboys @ New York Giants (SNF)
- Week 10: Minnesota Vikings @ Cowboys (MNF)
- Week 11: Cowboys @ Detroit Lions
- Week 12: Cowboys @ New England Patriots
- Week 13: Buffalo Bills @ Cowboys (T'giving)
- Week 14: Cowboys @ Chicago Bears (TNF)
- Week 15: Los Angeles Rams @ Cowboys
- Week 16: Cowboys @ Philadelphia Eagles
- Week 17: Washington Redskins @ Cowboys
We already knew this wasn't going to be an easy slate. The Cowboys won the NFC East last year, meaning they were guaranteed to play against four division winners this season; Bears, Patriots, Rams, and Saints. They also get the regular two games against the Eagles, who were a Wild Card team last year.
Let's just talk about those six games for a minute. New England is still New England; Tom Brady and Bill Belichick will ensure that it's one of the toughest games of the year, and especially on the road. The Patriots have won 12-straight home games going back to 2017.
The Bears and Rams are both rising teams that shouldn't suffer any drop off next year. Chicago QB Mitch Trubisky is entering his third year and LA's Jared Goff will be in his fourth season, but only third in Sean McVay's offense. Both have starting QBs with rookie contacts, which means having the resources to load up on talent elsewhere on the roster.
Much like the Patriots, the Saints still have their franchise QB and coach and should remain a top team. They will also be out for blood after the Cowboys humiliated them last season, as will their fans, and that could make for a very tough road game in New Orleans.
Then, of course, there are the Eagles.
The NFC East appears to be a two-horse race in 2019. The Giants are arguably the worst team in the NFL right now and the Redskins are dealing with major QB problems. It should be Dallas and Philadelphia once again battling for the top spot.
The Cowboys and Eagles should both get some cushy wins against their fellow division opponents. It could come down to their games against each other, and so far Dallas has dominated Philly when Carson Wentz is playing QB. With Nick Foles gone, how will that impact the Eagles going forward?
As for the rest of the schedule, the only other game that seems easy on paper is against the Miami Dolphins. Teams like the Bills, Jets, and Lions could go either way. The Packers and Vikings should both be tough opponents.
The teams aside, the general layout of the schedule isn't bad. The Week 8 bye is nice for a break right in the middle of the season. Dallas only has to play back-to-back road games one time, Weeks 11 and 12 against the Lions and Patriots.
The first three games against the Giants, Redskins, and Dolphins give Dallas a great opportunity to start the year right and build momentum. They will definitely need to go into December with some cushion, because that stretch against the Bears, Rams, and Eagles could be very difficult.
Overall it's a solid schedule. It's got some tough spots because of the Cowboys' performance last year, but that means they were a good team then and they stand to be even better now. There's nothing here that prevents Dallas from building on the success of 2018 and making then an ever better season.