By Alex Al-Kazzaz
The 2020 NFL schedule was released last week. The Dallas Cowboys have a very interesting schedule. According to CBS Sports, the Cowboys have the third easiest schedule this coming season. After a dreadful 2019 season, the Cowboys made some big changes regarding the coaching staff, including moving on from Jason Garrett. Furthermore, they made some big moves in free agency and did well in the Draft.
It can very well be the beginning of a new era for America's Team. In their case, hopefully, it'll be an era of success. It's been over 20 years since their last Super Bowl triumph. It's time for the mediocrity and disappointment to come to an end.
Weeks 1 through 4:
Dallas starting the season on the road in Los Angeles against the Rams comes as a bit of a surprise. It's surprising that Dallas isn't opening the season at home against their NFC East rivals, the New York Giants. Since the 2013 season, the Cowboys have opened the season at home against New York five times. At this point, it seemed that it was a traditional way to start the season for both teams. But this year, it's not happening.
So for the first four games, the Cowboys take on the Rams, Falcons, Seahawks, and Browns. Believe it or not, that's a difficult start. Dallas did dismantle LA at home last season, but there's no guarantee that'll happen again. Playing Atlanta is another game where anything can happen. Dallas always has a hard time playing Russell Wilson on the road, so that's likely a loss. As far as the Browns go, Dallas has to deal with Baker Mayfield, Odel Beckham Jr., Nick Chubb, as well as a talented Cleveland defense.
Realistically, Dallas is likely to be 2-2 after four games. However, 3-1 is possible. 4-0 is possible, as well, but that would honestly be a miracle, but then again 0-4 is also a possibility. In other words, anything can happen. Dallas has the potential of winning at least three of their first four games. A high-powered offense with the likes of Amari Cooper, Blake Jarwin, Ezekiel Elliott, Tony Pollard, Michael Gallup, CeeDee Lamb led by Dak Prescott really gives Dallas a great advantage. If both the offense and defense can play effectively, then Dallas will be off to a good start.
Weeks 5 through 8:
Three of these four games are NFC East opponents. Dallas takes on the Giants at home and then the Eagles and Redskins on the road. Dallas should be able to take care of business against the Giants at home. As long as they can sack Daniel Jones, put him under pressure, and contain that Giants offense, then Dallas will be all right. Same thing with Washington. Now, the Eagles are a different story, because, despite the injuries, they still took the NFC East title, beating Dallas in that crucial game in Week 15. As far as the game with Philly goes, it depends if Dallas comes to this game prepared or not. When it comes to taking on the Eagles, there's no such thing as an easy win, no matter what the circumstances are. The same thing for games against New York and Washington.
The most interesting and perhaps exciting game would truly have to be the Monday Night Football clash with the Arizona Cardinals. Kyler Murray along with DeAndre Hopkins and Larry Fitzgerald coming into town to take on a Dallas team loaded with talent on a Monday Night is quite the attention-getter. This game can certainly be looked at as showdown between Dallas' Cooper and Arizona's Hopkins. The game against Arizona is certainly going to a hard-fought effort. Realistically, this could come down to a last-second field goal win. It won't be a surprise if this game turns out to be a high-passing slobber knocker!
Dallas is perfectly capable of winning all four games. As long as they're focused and playing effectively on the field and finishing what they started, they'll be okay. A perfectly well-balanced team is Dallas' key to victory.
Weeks 9 through 12:
A week 9 clash with the Pittsburgh Steelers. At the moment, it's unclear if Ben Roethlisberger will play in this game or not. In addition, it's unclear how much the veteran quarterback has left in the tank. Furthermore, it's more unclear if he can stay healthy. But regardless of who's under center for Pittsburgh in this game, Dallas has to take the Steelers seriously. If Pittsburgh comes in as a fully healthy and mentally fit team, Dallas' chances will drop significantly. That's why Dallas needs to enter the exact same way.
Realistically speaking, both sides are likely to enter this game evenly matched and if that happens, it won't be a surprise if the game either ends in the closing seconds or has to go to overtime. This game can very well be like their clash in the 2012 season. After this game, Dallas has its bye week. In Dallas' case, it would be painfully unacceptable for them to go into their bye week following a disappointing loss.
Following the bye week, Dallas takes a trip up north to take on the Minnesota Vikings. Last season, the Vikings squared off with Dallas in Arlington and the Vikings emerged victoriously. Dallas' inability to stop Minnesota's brilliant running game and pass-screen offense played a big role in that loss. In addition, poor coaching was a huge part of it, as well. Dallas wants to avenge it but Minnesota may be better than we saw last season. Dallas' defense may be in for another difficult evening. This is likely to be a losing effort for Dallas.
Now we get to week 12. A special tradition for the Cowboys; Thanksgiving Football! After what happened to the Boys on Thanksgiving last year against the Buffalo Bills, the Cowboys want to make sure that their 2020 Thanksgiving turns out to be a Happy Thanksgiving. Dallas will take on the Redskins. A classic rivalry on a traditional Thanksgiving game increases the excitement. Dallas doesn't want to allow their longtime archrivals to ruin their Thanksgiving. This is a certain win for the Boys.
This will be a difficult period for Dallas. But even after getting through this part of the schedule whether a 2-1 or 3-0 record, they'll enter a more difficult part. Their final five games are in December and Dallas is known for having difficulty in the month of December.
Weeks 13 through 17:
It starts with a trip to Baltimore. Dallas' defense won't be able to handle Lamar Jackson, so realistically, Dallas comes up short against the Ravens. Baltimore's winning mentality is too difficult for Dallas to outsmart. To be honest, it would quite a surprise if Dallas doesn't lose by at least ten points.
Next is a clash with the Bengals in Cincinnati. It'll be exciting to take on the #1 overall pick of the 2020 NFL Draft, Joe Burrow. By then, his statistical numbers will probably be respectable, but it's unlikely that Cincinnati will be a dominant team. Dallas should pick up the win. Perhaps at the beginning, the Bengals will put up a fight, but they'll eventually be overwhelmed and Dallas will take control and seal the deal in their favor. A rookie quarterback can't take on a high-powered Dallas team and be able to win it on his own. In Cincinnati's case, a healthy A.J. Green may be of some help, but it simply won't be enough. Dallas wins that one.
Dallas then returns home to take on the San Francisco 49ers. A classic 1990s playoff rivalry showdown! San Francisco really shocked the world last year going from a team that went 4-12 in 2018 to a Super Bowl contender. There's really no true way to predict this game. If Dallas comes into this game with full momentum and a strong winning mentality, they'll have a good shot of winning. But let's not forget that if San Francisco comes into the game with momentum and a winning mentality, then they, too, have a shot. If both teams are hot and focused, then fans are really for a 1990s playoff classic between the two. But if Dallas is really hot coming into this game, then the win is theirs.
Dallas' final two games are against NFC East foes. Week 16, the Eagles come to Arlington. Many say that this game may the decider on who wins the NFC East between Dallas and Philadelphia. Perhaps that's a possibility, but it all depends on how the season goes for both teams. Even if Dallas is already crowned the NFC East champs, a win against Philadelphia at home will only motivate them further. Philadelphia, on the other hand, is always looking for the opportunity to beat the Boys on their home turf, no matter what the circumstance is. Philadelphia likes to be seen as Dallas' momentum killer.
The final game of the season for Dallas is a road trip to East Rutherford, New Jersey to take on the Giants. If Dallas comes into the game already the NFC East champions with a possible first-round bye, then Dallas will rest all starters and give the backups some playing time. Now, if Dallas must win this game to be NFC East champions, expect Dallas to come with everything they got. There's honestly no telling on how this game can be viewed. It may be a matter of a playoff spot or just closing the season out. Either way, it's an important game.
There's a lot of hype and potential for the Cowboys. A 10-6 finish is a realistic prediction. However, a 12-4 finish is certainly not out of the question. At this point, there's nothing to do but wait and see how the season plays out.
The Cowboys are now being led by Mike McCarthy, who was previously the head coach for the Green Bay Packers(2006-2018). Hiring McCarthy and allowing McCarthy to assemble the coaching staff is a smart move by the Cowboys organization. At this point, many Cowboys fans believe that McCarthy can very well be their savior.