The Cowboys and the other 31 teams have known for a while who they will play and where they will play. Yesterday, we all learned when and in what order. Here are the important points to glean out of the schedule release.
- It pays to be America’s Team. No matter how hard fans of other teams (read: Cowboys-haters) try, there is only one America’s Team. The reason they hate? When Dallas is good, the world can’t get enough of them. Case in point, pending being flexed out, Dallas is part of the national broadcast schedule a whopping 11 times in the 2015 season. Over 2/3rds of their schedule. They have 3 primetime games on NBC Sunday Night (vs NY, @ NO, vs PHI), a primetime game on ESPN Monday Night (@ WAS), a primetime NFL Network Saturday game (vs NYJ), and a Thanksgiving game tilt on CBS (vs CAR). They also are the nationally televised late-game, which NFL Senior Director of Broadcasting Michael North says is now the most popular time slot viewer wise, a whopping five times (@ PHI, vs NE, @NYG, vs SEA, @GB).
- Poised for a late-season run? The back half of Dallas’ schedule could lead to momentum heading into the playoffs. In the last eight games, only two opponents made the 2014 playoffs, and one of them was below .500 (Carolina on Thanksgiving).
- In fact, Dallas only has four playoff teams on their schedule in total; and they get to play three of them at home (10/11 vs New England, 11/1 vs Seattle, 11/26 vs Carolina, 12/13 @ Green Bay).
- One of the main weather-related things teams try to avoid with schedules is traveling to Florida for day games in the sweltering heat of September. Dallas lucked out here, twice. They face both Tampa Bay and Miami on the road, but get them in back-to-back weeks in the relative cool of November.
- Extended Mini-Bye. Last year, the Cowboys went from a Sunday night game, to Thursday Thanksgiving, to a Thursday night game, before their mini-bye leading into a Sunday night tilt. This year, they get one extra day of rest, facing the Washington Redskins on Monday night, following their Thursday day game; a full 11 days off.
- Dallas’ offense should have a good year if last year’s opponent rankings have any correlation. They will only have five opponents (six games) against teams in the top half of the league in Defensive DVOA. However, that includes the league’s top two defenses in Seattle and Bufffalo.
- First place schedules are hard. There were five teams tied for the best record in 2014, including Dallas. The Cowboys face three of the other four.
- Dallas will face 10 opponents that ranked in the top half of the league in Offensive DVOA (metric that rates teams based on performance above league average while considering opponent’s faced).
- The Cowboys will come out of their post-Thanksgiving mini-bye and then play on short rest in consecutive weeks. Following their Monday night game against Washington, they play Sunday in Green Bay on six days rest. They follow that up with a home Saturday date against the NY Jets, again on six days rest.
- The first thing players check out on a schedule is if they are on the road, in the cold, at the end of the year. No such luck for Dallas. Their rematch with the Green Bay Packers is scheduled for mid-December in a late-afternoon slot, meaning the game will end in darkness. Worse, they will travel to face Buffalo two days after Christmas to face possibly the league’s best defense and fiercest pass rush. Not exactly what you’d hope to put Tony Romo up against with the playoffs looming.
- Barring the Washington franchise avoiding the basement (where they’ve dwelled six of the last seven seasons) the interesting part of the Cowboys division schedule will be over by mid-season. Four of their first eight games are the home-and-home series against the Giants and Eagles.
- The NFL’s Senior Director of Broadcasting admitted on Sirius XM today that they recognized the issue of having teams that play a Thursday game being on the road for a Sunday Night game is probably not a good idea. Year too late, gentlemen.
- The NFL also said that their main effort in deciding bye weeks is trying to leave as much room as possible between it and each of the 32 teams’ Thursday matchup. They do, however, attempt to ‘make right’ teams that have had several consecutive early byes in a row.
|1||9/13 830p ET||vs NY Giants||NBC*||Cowboys have won four straight against G-Men, and will try to enhance their 7-0 record against the Giants in season openers, dating back to 1965. Dallas holds a series edge of 61-43-2.|
|2||9/20 425p ET||@ Philadelphia||FOX*||Dallas holds a series edge of 63-49 over the rival Eagles.The last two NFC East Champs, Dallas returns to Philly to face last year's OPOY Demarco Murray in his new home, plus the quarterback hydra of Bradford-Sanchez-Tebow… scary.|
|3||9/27 1p ET||vs Atlanta||FOX||Dallas faces the Falcons for the first time since 2012, holding a lifetime 16-9 advantage.|
|4||10/4 830p ET||@ New Orleans||NBC*||The dominating win against the Saints was the "A ha!" moment of the Cowboys rise to prominence in 2014. It was the first stop of the revenge tour. Dallas leads 16-11 all-time.|
|5||10/11 425p ET||vs New England||CBS*||Dallas hasn't faced New England since 2011, when Tom Brady led a last-minute comeback with a TD to Aaron Hernandez. Cowboys lead head-to-head 7-4.|
|6||18-Oct||BYE||We have Dallas winning this one, easily.|
|7||10/25 425p ET||@ NY Giants||FOX*||Could this be the last time Tony Romo and Eli Manning face off as QBs of the Cowboys and Giants? Eli is in the last year of his deal after all.|
|8||11/1 425p ET||vs Seattle||FOX*||After conquering the 12th man in 2014, Dallas finally gets Seattle to return to Big D. Dallas leads all-time 11-5.|
|9||11/8 830P ET||vs Philadelphia||NBC*||This time, Dallas will have plenty of rest to take on the Eagles at home. Will the Eagles collection of oft-injured players be in the lineup by mid-season?|
|10||11/15 1p ET||@ Tampa Bay||FOX||Cowboys have dominated Tampa 11-3 all time. Tony Romo is a career 86 for 125, 1191 yards, 11 touchdowns, 1 INT and a 125.1 passer rating. Not bad.|
|11||11/22 1p ET||@ Miami||FOX||The only club on the schedule Dallas is under .500 against, 6-7. SB VI rematch. Last matchup was Thanksgiving 2011, a Cowboys comeback victory on a Dan Bailey game-winning kick.|
|12||11/26 430p ET||vs Carolina||CBS*||Cross-flex allows Dallas to play an NFC team on a CBS Thanksgiving game. Dallas won last 5 meetings and are 9-3 lifetime against the Panthers.|
|13||12/7 830p ET||@ Washington||ESPN*||Even when Washington stinks, the first matchup of teams each year is their Super Bowl. Dallas leads all-time 65-43-2. Will RGIII be starting this game?|
|14||12/13 425p ET||@ Green Bay||FOX*||The Divisional Round rematch is back on the Frozen Tundra. All-time series is tied 16-16.|
|15||12/19 825p ET||vs NY Jets||NFLN*||Dez Bryant hasn't seen Darrell Revis since 2011's seaon opener, this should be one of the best matchups of the year. Cowboys lead head-to-head 7-3.|
|16||12/27 1p ET||@ Buffalo||FOX||Dallas hasn't been to Buffalo since the Romo 5-INT dramatic comeback victory when Nick Folk had to hit two 50+ yarders. Rematch of SB 27 & 28, Dallas leads all-time 8-3.|
|17||1/3 1p ET||Washington||FOX||Dallas will look to close out the season in style like their dominating 2014 victory. This time, they will play at home.|