With the release of the Dallas Cowboys‘ 2021 regular-season schedule last week, fans got a road map of possible redemption for America’s Team this year. That after posting a disappointing 6-10 record last season in a very winnable NFC East division.
In fact, the Washington Football Team was able to secure the divisional title in 2020 despite having a losing record of 7-9. There’s little doubt the NFC East was the worst division in the NFL last year.
That fact should aid the Cowboys in bouncing back in 2021. The biggest factor obviously being the return of quarterback Dak Prescott. Having suffered a season-ending injury in Week Five, Prescott’s absence sent the team spiraling as the Cowboys lost seven games without him under center.
With Prescott expected to be a full-go by training camp later this summer, and considering the Cowboys’ upcoming schedule, the team should be favorites to come out of the East this season.
Here’s what Around The NFL Writer Nick Shook wrote for NFL.com recently after ranking the Cowboys with the eight-most forgiving schedule in 2021 …
“In all, the Cowboys have only three games against teams that finished last season with a winning record. Playing in the NFC East, where each team finished below .500 last season, gives the Cowboys a deflated strength of schedule, but they don’t have a ton of heavyweights on their schedule … “
The three teams the Cowboys will face with winning records include the two past Super Bowl winners in the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (11-5) and the Kansas City Chiefs (14-2). The other winning team from 2020 is the New Orleans Saints (12-4).
Outside of their division, the Cowboys are also set to face the Los Angeles Chargers (7-9), Carolina Panthers (5-11), New England Patriots (7-9), Minnesota Vikings (7-9), Denver Broncos (5-11), Atlanta Falcons (4-12), Las Vegas Raiders (8-8), and the Arizona Cardinals (8-8) during the 2021 regular season.
While the Cowboys may have a favorable schedule as we sit here in May, things tend to change once the season actually kicks off. In fact, with so many of the above teams teetering at .500 last year, offseason changes could easily push them into playoff contenders. And divisional battles against familiar opponents always seemed to be tough matchups.
In the end, the Dallas Cowboys may appear to have an easier road than most to return to the playoffs due to their weak division and upcoming schedule of opponents. But if we learned anything from last year, it’s that a critical injury or two can quickly knock a team off course and into the top ten of the following NFL draft.