Dallas Cowboys will need a fast start to schedule with a difficult finish

There will be plenty of national television exposure for QB Dak Prescott and the Cowboys in 2019 as Dallas will play in five prime-time games. Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

The NFL has released its 2019 regular-season schedule. Here's a look at what's in store for the Dallas Cowboys.

Game-by-game prediction

Cowboys reporter Todd Archer is predicting a 10-6 finish.

Sept. 8: vs. N.Y. Giants, Win

Sept. 15: at Washington, Loss

Sept. 22: vs. Miami, Win

Sept. 29: at Saints, Loss

Oct. 6: vs. Green Bay, Win

Oct. 13: at N.Y. Jets, Win

Oct. 20: vs. Philadelphia, Loss

Nov. 4: at N.Y. Giants, Win

Nov. 10: vs. Minnesota, Win

Nov. 17: at Detroit, Win

Nov. 24: at New England, Loss

Nov. 28: vs. Buffalo, Win

Dec. 5: at Chicago, Loss

Dec. 15: vs. L.A. Rams, Loss

Dec. 22: at Philadelphia, Win

Dec. 29: vs. Washington, Win

Strength of schedule: T-14th, .504


Entering the season on the final year of his contract, coach Jason Garrett faces a mandate to win in 2019 or else. Nobody knows exactly how much he has to win in order to secure a new deal from owner and general manager Jerry Jones, but he will have to do something he has not done as the Cowboys coach: make the playoffs in back-to-back seasons. To get there, the Cowboys face a daunting schedule, playing six games against playoff teams from a year ago, including the reigning Super Bowl champ New England Patriots, NFC champ Los Angeles Rams (which will also be a playoff rematch from last January) and NFC runner-up New Orleans Saints. The toughest stretch comes in Weeks 10 through 16 when the Cowboys play the Minnesota Vikings, Patriots, Chicago Bears and Rams mixed around games against Detroit and Buffalo (on Thanksgiving). Prior to the Week 8 bye, Dallas plays just two games against 2018 playoff teams, so a fast start almost seems like a must if the Cowboys want to make the playoffs in back-to-back seasons for the first time since 2006-07.

Last time, long time

The glitziest game on the schedule is the Cowboys' visit to Gillette Stadium on Nov. 24 to play Tom Brady and the Patriots. New England is chasing Dallas' record of 20 straight winning seasons and this has to be the last time they go against Brady, right? The Cowboys have lost all four games to Brady (2003, 2007, 2011, 2015) and have scored more than one touchdown in just one of those losses. In fact, the last time the Cowboys beat the Patriots (1996), second-year linebacker Leighton Vander Esch was not even 1 year old.

Prime-time players

That the Cowboys have five night games is not a surprise. They are a ratings bonanza. But there could be some Cowboys fatigue by the final month of the season. In a seven-game span on their schedule, the Cowboys will play on NBC's "Sunday Night Football" twice, ESPN's "Monday Night Football" once and a Thursday night game against the Bears on Dec. 5. Their Thanksgiving Day game against Buffalo is also in that stretch. Whether the Cowboys will be in the playoff chase or not, they will indeed provide some drama.