Finally, the 2017 NFL Schedule is out. The Dallas Cowboys will open and close the season against NFC East opponents, play three back-to-back road swings and host their former quarterback Tony Romo -- while he wears a blazer -- on Thanksgiving Day.
Meanwhile, the Cowboys will cross a new venue off their list — Atlanta’s Mercedes-Benz Stadium — and likely wave goodbye to another — the Oakland Coliseum. They also host both Los Angeles teams.
As for difficulty, the Cowboys face four defending division champions and two other playoff teams. Plus, just like the past few years, the Cowboys face a particularly difficult stretch to end the season, with three division games, along with facing three playoff teams and traveling to three potential cold-weather venues.
How did it all shake out? We have the schedule, and some analysis, below.
Week 1: Sunday, Sept. 10, vs. New York Giants, 7:30 p.m., NBC
As I wrote on Twitter right after I learned of the Cowboys’ opener …
This is the third straight year the Cowboys and Giants have opened against each other. Plus, it will be the fifth time in the last six years the two teams have played each other to open the season (San Francisco was the Cowboys’ opener in 2014). C’mon, NFL, I know you want ratings on opening weekend. But, can we mix it up a little? By the way, the Cowboys are 3-1 against the Giants on opening weekend in that span, so that bodes well for the Cowboys.
Week 2: Sunday, Sept. 17, at Denver Broncos, 3:25 p.m., FOX
This looks like it will be the late afternoon national game, based on the start time. So, if things had shaken out differently this MIGHT have been a Romo vs. Cowboys game. The last time the Broncos played the Cowboys, of course, was that 51-48 track meet in Arlington four years ago. The last Cowboys game in Denver came in 2009, with the Broncos winning, 17-10. In fact, the Cowboys haven’t beaten the Broncos since 1995.
Week 3: Monday, Sept. 25, at Arizona Cardinals, 7:30 p.m., ESPN
The Cowboys draw well in Arizona, so expect a vocal Cowboys crowd, despite the fact that the Cardinals’ fan base has improved in recent years. Dallas has lost the last four meetings, dating back to 2008. Two of those games went to overtime. Expect it to be close. This will be Dallas’ only Monday night appearance and their earliest in a season since 2008.
Week 4: Sunday, Oct. 1, vs. Los Angeles Rams, noon, FOX
The Cowboys face the Rams in the regular season for the first time since they made the move from St. Louis before last season. Of late the Cowboys have been the dominant team, winning five of the last seven meetings. The last time the Cowboys faced the Rams as the Los Angeles Rams? It was in 1992 in Dallas and the Rams won. This should be a breather game for the Cowboys after two games on the road and three games against teams that could contend in their divisions. I also suspect this will be the Cowboys’ first game without a No. 1 broadcast crew calling the game.
Week 5: Sunday, Oct. 8, vs. Green Bay Packers, 3:25, FOX
Goodness. The rematch of last year’s NFC Divisional playoff gets a late-afternoon national window? I’m kind of stunned this game didn’t make its way to NBC. This will be the Cowboys’ first game of 2017 against a defending division champion and their second against a 2016 playoff team (New York Giants).
Week 6: Bye
I personally like the fact that they’re getting a bye week in October. It aligns well with players that are on the team’s PUP list and might be ready to start their preparation for the season.
Week 7: Sunday, Oct. 22, at San Francisco 49ers, 3:05, FOX
First of all, if you’re looking for a good Cowboys road trip, I highly recommend Levi’s Stadium. I went there last year for a 49ers-Bucs game and it’s a great stadium. The 49ers Hall of Fame is worth the price of admission alone. Second, this will be Dallas’ second straight year visiting Levi’s Stadium. Last year the Cowboys won, 24-17 in Week 4. The Cowboys’ last visit to Candlestick Park was in 2011. You might remember that as the Tony Romo punctured lung game.
Week 8: Sunday, Oct. 29, at Washington Redskins, 3:25, FOX
The start time means FOX is expecting to use this as their national game. It also represents the Cowboys’ second back-to-back road trip of the season and means they go east coast one week after going west coast. The NFL definitely did them no favors here. The Cowboys swept Washington last year, but both games were close and neither came after a road game.
Week 9: Sunday, Nov. 5, vs. Kansas City Chiefs, 3:25, CBS
CBS gets the late national window, pays its first visit to a Cowboys game for 2017 and, assuming Tony Romo hasn’t come out of retirement, the newly-minted No. 1 color commentator for the Eye network will call his first Cowboys game. I saw the Cowboys face the Chiefs in person in their last meeting, which came in KC in 2013. Dallas lost. Dallas has won four of the last six meetings, dating back to 1992. The Chiefs’ starting QB in 1992? Dave Krieg. Amaze your friends with that bit of trivia.
Week 10: Sunday, Nov. 12, at Atlanta Falcons, 3:25, FOX
The Cowboys visit the defending NFC Champions and pay their first visit to Atlanta’s swanky new digs at Mercedes-Benz Stadium (given their name is also on the Superdome, guess they’re not worried about money). This will be the second straight week the Cowboys will face a defending division champion.
Week 11: Sunday, Nov. 19, vs. Philadelphia Eagles, 7:30, NBC
Al Michaels (or Mike Tirico, depending upon the schedule) and Cris Collinsworth return to Arlington for the second time in 2017 to call the Cowboys’ first meeting with the Eagles, a team they split with in 2016. Of course, the Cowboys lost the season finale and sat most of their starters. In their mid-season meeting last year the Cowboys won in overtime, 29-23.
Week 12: Thursday, Nov. 23, vs. Los Angeles Chargers, 3:30, CBS
Tony Romo will spend his first Thanksgiving Day game as a broadcaster with the Cowboys, oddly enough, thanks to the quirky broadcasting setup where the broadcast home of the visiting team in AFC-NFC matchups gets the broadcast. It will also be the Cowboys’ first meeting with the Chargers since they moved to L.A. Their last meeting was in 2013 in San Diego, with the Chargers winning by 11 points. Dallas hasn’t beaten the Chargers since 2005. And here’s some real good news — the Cowboys are home the Sunday before the Thanksgiving Day game. It will be the second straight year the stars have aligned in that regard.
Week 13: Thursday, Nov. 30, vs. Washington Redskins, 7:25, NBC/NFLN
This is becoming a thing, the Cowboys playing on the successive Thursday after Thanksgiving. This will be the third time in the last four years the Cowboys have played the following Thursday. I like it. It keeps them on schedule and leads the Cowboys into a 10-day break before December. It also kicks off the first of three divisional games in the Cowboys’ final five games of the season.
Week 14: Sunday, Dec. 10, at New York Giants, 3:25, FOX
This represents the Cowboys’ first likely cold-weather game of 2017. The late afternoon window means the sun will be down by about 5 p.m. Dallas time. The 10 days of prep should come in handy.
Week 15: Sunday, Dec. 17, at Oakland Raiders, 7:30 p.m., NBC
Tasty. The Raiders are one of the hottest teams in the NFL and the Cowboys make what should be their final visit to “The Black Hole.” Raiders Nation will be on fire. This will be an Al Michaels game. He lives nearby. Playoff ramifications all around. It should be a lot of fun.
Week 16: Sunday, Dec. 24, vs. Seattle Seahawks, 3:25 p.m., FOX
Fox lucked out here. A battle of defending division champions on Christmas Eve. It’s like a Christmas present for football fans. Plan accordingly.
Week 17: Sunday, Dec. 31, at Philadelphia Eagles, noon, FOX
Just like last year, the Cowboys end the season in Philly. Cowboys fans can only hope they’ll be nursing a division title and resting their starters, just like last year.
Hit us up on Twitter at @PostinsPostcard (Postins) or @MattGalatzan (Galatzan). Plus, you can pester our boss, Mike Fisher, on Twitter at @FishSports.