In years past, a rundown of the Dallas Cowboys schedule read like a who’s who of quarterbacks in the NFL. Back in 2019, the Cowboys had to face Drew Brees, Aaron Rodgers, and Tom Brady as the most difficult quarterbacks on their schedule. While each year is different and the offenses the teams face do have some turnover year-to-year, the Cowboys will have several difficult quarterback matchups on the schedule.
Let’s take a look at the top 5 quarterbacks the Cowboys will face in 2021.
1. Patrick Mahomes, Kansas City Chiefs
The three-time Pro Bowler, 2018 first-team All-Pro selection, and 2018 MVP, Patrick Mahomes is by and far the best quarterback in the NFL at this stage of his career. Since coming into the league in 2017, Mahomes has won every individual award and helped the Chiefs win the Super Bowl in 2019.
In 2020, they looked to be on the verge of another Super Bowl win, but offensive line injuries took a toll as the Chiefs were unable to slow down the Tampa Bay Buccaneers pass rush.
The Cowboys will get to wait until week 11 to face Mahomes and the Chiefs, but they’ll have to travel to Arrowhead Field in Kansas City for the big-time matchup.
2. Tom Brady, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
By the time the Dallas Cowboys open the season against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Tom Brady will have turned 44 years old. He’s the greatest to ever play the position. He’s got the rings, the individual awards, and the stats to go with it.
In Tampa Bay in 2020, Brady threw for 4,633 yards, and 40 touchdowns. His 72.5 QBR was the seventh highest of his career since the measure came out in 2006.
Brady’s ability to process and the weapons around him will make this one of the most difficult matchups the Dallas Cowboys will face all year. The good news is, they get to get it out of the way early.
3. Justin Herbert, Los Angeles Chargers
Heading into his second season, Justin Herbert is positioned to take another huge step forward. The Chargers made it a mission to find some help for their offensive line in the NFL Draft and they did that with Rashawn Slater out of Northwestern.
The Chargers have had weapons in Keenan Allen, Mike Williams, and Austin Ekeler. Herbert helped take a step forward from their 5-11 finish in 2019 to 7-9 finish in 2020. Now the Chargers are being looked at as a team to compete for the AFC West with the Kansas City Chiefs.
In his rookie season, Herbert threw for 4,336 yards, 31 touchdowns, and just 10 interceptions in 15 starts. The former Oregon Duck had a passer rating of 98.3 and a QBR of 69.5.
4. Matt Ryan, Atlanta Falcons
The Dallas Cowboys will get a rematch of their 2020 thriller with the Atlanta Falcons but this time will go on the road to play Matt Ryan and the Falcons Atlanta. This game will come in week 10, just before their matchup with Patrick Mahomes and the Kansas City Chiefs, but there can be no looking past Ryan and the Falcons.
Ryan already had one of the best wide receiver duos in the NFL in Julio Jones and Calvin Ridley. Then they added Kyle Pitts with the fourth overall pick in the draft and really made that passing attack scary.
Ryan threw for 4,558 yards and 26 touchdowns in 2020. His 11 interceptions were the fifth-lowest of his career and yet, his QBR of 67 was the fourth-lowest of his career.
Ryan is aging but has still has the talent and weapons around him to be a problem for opposing defenses.
5. Kirk Cousins, Minnesota Vikings
You might be looking at this and thinking to yourself, “how is Kirk Cousins number five on the list?”
Well, this is a two-part answer. First of all, the rest of the quarterbacks on the schedule don’t really scare you. And while Cousins may not scare you, he’s still a pretty solid quarterback capable of beating your defense.
In 2020, Cousins threw for 4,265 yards and 35 touchdowns. He posted a 63.2 QBR and a 105 passer rating. With Adam Theilen and Justin Jefferson, the Vikings have a dynamic duo at wide receiver. Include Dalvin Cook as a pass catcher and the Vikings passing game could be trouble.