The Dallas Cowboys’ road map for the start of the Mike McCarthy era is now clear.
Cowboys owner Jerry Jones took his time before finally firing Jason Garrett in January after Dallas went 8-8 and missed the playoffs. The team almost immediately tabbed McCarthy as his replacement.
The 56-year-old guided the Green Bay Packers to a Super Bowl in 2010. The end of his tenure in Green Bay raised questions about whether he can ultimately help Dallas relive its glory days.
The Cowboys re-signed Amari Cooper and placed the franchise tag on Dak Prescott, who has yet to formally sign his one-year tender. However, they lost Byron Jones, Robert Quinn and Maliek Collins, while Travis Frederick abruptly retired as well.
Meeting what will surely be sky-high expectations won’t be easy for McCarthy in his first season. The defense is a big question mark with so many key players out the door.
Here’s a look at the team’s regular-season schedule for the year ahead, per its official website.
Dallas Cowboys Schedule
Week 1 – Sun., Sept. 13 — Dallas Cowboys vs Los Angeles Rams (SoFi Stadium), 8:20 p.m. ET on NBC (Sunday Night Football)
Week 2 – Sun., Sept. 20 — Dallas Cowboys vs Atlanta Falcons (AT&T Stadium), 1 p.m. ET on FOX
Week 3 – Sun., Sept. 27 — Dallas Cowboys vs Seattle Seahawks (CenturyLink Field), 4:25 p.m. ET on FOX
Week 4 – Sun., Oct. 4 — Dallas Cowboys vs Cleveland Browns (AT&T Stadium), 1 p.m. ET on FOX
Week 5 – Sun., Oct. 11 — Dallas Cowboys vs New York Giants (AT&T Stadium), 4:25 p.m. ET on CBS
Week 6 – Mon., Oct. 19 — Dallas Cowboys vs Arizona Cardinals (AT&T Stadium), 8:15 p.m. ET on ESPN (Monday Night Football)
Week 7 – Sun., Oct. 25 — Dallas Cowboys vs Washington Redskins (FedEx Field), 1 p.m. ET on FOX
Week 8 – Sun., Nov. 1 — Dallas Cowboys vs Philadelphia Eagles (Lincoln Financial Field), 8:20 p.m. ET on NBC (Sunday Night Football)
Week 9 – Sun., Nov. 8 — Dallas Cowboys vs Pittsburgh Steelers (AT&T Stadium), 4:25 p.m. ET on CBS
Week 10 – BYE –
Week 11 – Sun., Nov. 22 — Dallas Cowboys vs Minnesota Vikings (U.S. Bank Stadium), 4:25 p.m. ET on FOX
Week 12 – Thurs., Nov. 26 — Dallas Cowboys vs Washington Redskins (AT&T Stadium), 4:30 p.m. ET on FOX (Thanksgiving)
Week 13 – Thurs., Dec. 3 — Dallas Cowboys vs Baltimore Ravens (M&T Bank Stadium), 8:20 p.m. ET on FOX/NFL Network/Amazon Prime (Thursday Night Football)
Week 14 – Sun., Dec. 13 — Dallas Cowboys vs Cincinnati Bengals (Paul Brown Stadium), 1 p.m. ET on FOX
Week 15 – Sun., Dec. 20 — Dallas Cowboys vs San Francisco 49ers (AT&T Stadium), 8:20 p.m. ET on NBC (Sunday Night Football)
Week 16 – Sun., Dec. 27 — Dallas Cowboys vs Philadelphia Eagles (AT&T Stadium), 4:25 p.m. ET on FOX
Week 17 – Sun., Jan. 3 — Dallas Cowboys vs New York Giants (MetLife Stadium), 1 p.m. ET on FOX
The NFC East is matched up against the AFC North, one of the toughest divisions to read, in 2020.
The Baltimore Ravens not only have all of their best players back but also added Calais Campbell and Michael Brockers to the defensive line. Opposing teams will have had an entire offseason to figure out an approach to slow down Lamar Jackson and Baltimore’s high-powered offense, though.
The Cleveland Browns made a few noteworthy signings (Jack Conklin and Austin Hooper being the best of the bunch) to fortify an already talented roster. Still, they won’t receive the benefit of the doubt after their spectacular flameout in 2019.
And the Pittsburgh Steelers have Ben Roethlisberger back healthy after neither Mason Rudolph nor Devlin Hodges played well in his absence. Counting on a 38-year-old who’s coming off season-ending elbow surgery carries a level of risk all the same as the Steelers aim for the playoffs.
The AFC North could prove to be an easy draw, or it could feature three genuine postseason contenders.
Within the NFC, the Cowboys have precious few gimmes. They host the San Francisco 49ers and hit the road to play the Seattle Seahawks, Los Angeles Rams and Minnesota Vikings.
All in all, Dallas’ upcoming slate looks pretty unforgiving.
In this case, the obvious answer is also the correct one.
The Philadelphia Eagles overtook the Cowboys for first place in the division with their Week 16 victory in 2019. Dallas could have clinched a playoff berth by defeating Philadelphia but instead missed the postseason altogether.
The NFC East is likely to be a battle between the Eagles and Cowboys once again.
The Washington Redskins made a coaching upgrade by hiring Ron Rivera, but the team is in such rough shape that Rivera might not be able to deliver tangible results until 2021. Likewise, the New York Giants haven’t done enough to significantly improve, leaving their hopes tied to Daniel Jones’ progress.
The outcome of Dallas and Philadelphia’s season series could tilt the divisional title race.
In the event the Cowboys are contending for the wild card, the games against the Seahawks, Rams and Vikings could be equally as important.