If there’s one team whose attention never dwindles whether it’s June or January, it’s the Dallas Cowboys.
Fans of the team, national media, and NFL aficionados love to speculate about the way “America’s Team” is handling their business, both on the field and off of it.
After a disappointing 2020 season marred by injury and ineffectiveness, Dallas hopes to rebound with a performance commensurate with the type of talent they have on their roster in 2021.
Anything less than a playoff appearance for perhaps the NFL’s most popular franchise will be viewed as a failure.
Let’s take a closer look at the Cowboys schedule, and predict what their regular season record might be in 2021.
From humble beginnings to a jacket of gold, Jerry Jones embarked on a journey that would re-define his life & his legacy.
— Dallas Cowboys (@dallascowboys) August 13, 2019
Week 1: At Tampa Bay Buccaneers
After much finger crossing and loud campaigning for the NFL to start the season off with a bang, the league obliged with one of the most juicy matchups of the season.
It will be an immediate test for Dallas to go on the road against the defending Super Bowl champions.
While the offensive fireworks on paper figure to be the stuff instant classics are made of, the real storyline will be how quarterback Dak Prescott holds up against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ fierce pass rush.
Dallas will hang around in an exciting game, but ultimately fall short.
Prediction: Bucs 33, Cowboys 26 L
— Dallas Cowboys (@dallascowboys) June 3, 2021
Week 2: At Los Angeles Chargers
It remains to be seen whether or not the state of California will allow a full complement of fans for this game, but this could possibly be the Los Angeles Chargers’ first game at SoFi Stadium with fans.
However, it is well known that the Chargers are still working on building their Los Angeles fan base, so there might actually be more Cowboys fans at this game.
Prescott will have another test of his mobility going up against Joey Bosa, but should fare better against a team without Super Bowl pedigree in Week 2.
Prediction: Cowboys 28, Chargers 21 W
Week 3: Philadelphia Eagles
The Cowboys return home in Week 3 to kick off their divisional slate of games against the Philadelphia Eagles.
It will be interesting to see whether Eagles quarterback Jalen Hurts takes a Kyler Murray-like leap in his second pro season, or whether he profiles more as a traditional young quarterback on the road in a difficult environment.
Dallas should not need to pull out of all the stops offensively to win this game, as their improved (on paper) defense may be able to secure the victory.
Prediction: Cowboys 24, Eagles 20 W
Week 4: Carolina Panthers
The Cowboys get to remain at home for another week as they welcome in Sam Darnold and the new-look Carolina Panthers.
The Panthers are going to be a difficult team to figure out heading into next season, as most of their fortunes hinge on whether Darnold can rebound from a tumultuous tenure as quarterback of the New York Jets.
Carolina will not be a pushover in this game, but Dallas should be able to come out with the victory at AT&T Stadium.
Prediction: Cowboys 36, Panthers, 23 W
Week 5: New York Giants
Every game with the New York Giants carries great importance, but this one will hit a little bit differently.
The last time the Giants were in Dallas, Prescott suffered the debilitating ankle injury that derailed the Cowboys season last year.
This will serve as a mental hurdle for the team, but it won’t be as simple as that.
New York added a lot of talent during the offseason, and will be a tough out in 2021 with head coach Joe Judge establishing a physical tone for his team.
Look for the Giants to come in and surprise Dallas in Big D.
Prediction: Giants 29, Cowboys 26 L
Week 6: At New England Patriots
When the Cowboys and New England Patriots last met in 2019, the teams played through a driving rainstorm that led to an ugly 13-9 New England victory.
There’s no telling what the weather will be like this time around, but like the Giants, the Patriots have taken significant steps to upgrade their team.
Dallas would probably prefer to face rookie Mac Jones instead of Cam Newton, but Bill Belichick will likely want to slow the game down again.
In a similar script as their matchup in 2019, look for New England to muck up the game and get the W.
Prediction: Patriots 21, Cowboys 17 L
Week 7: BYE
Week 8: At Minnesota Vikings
Coming out of their bye week, the Cowboys will head to Minnesota to play a Vikings team that resembles them quite a bit.
Dallas’ season unfolded in much the same way last year, so there’s definitely shootout potential for this matchup.
Look for the Cowboys to secure the road win on a last-second field goal.
Prediction: Cowboys 41, Vikings 38 W
Week 9: Denver Broncos
The Denver Broncos are a tough team to figure out, considering they have a lot of talent on offense, but just can’t seem to put it together on a consistent basis.
There’s a chance this game could light up the scoreboard as well, but it’s tough to believe that Drew Lock will be able to come into Dallas and outgun a healthy Prescott.
Prediction: Cowboys 30, Broncos 23 W
Week 10: Atlanta Falcons
This is a rematch of one of the wildest games of the 2020 NFL season.
The Atlanta Falcons had the Cowboys dead to rights in Week 2 last year, and only had to pounce on an onside kick attempt by Dallas to secure the game.
In what was an egregious blunder, Atlanta’s special teams let the ball bounce 10 yards, right into the hands of Dallas’ hands team.
Whether Julio Jones is a Falcon or not, this game also has shootout written all over it, and we’ll give the Falcons the edge slightly due to the revenge angle.
Prediction: Falcons 38, Cowboys 34 L
Week 11: At Kansas City Chiefs
Dallas will face arguably their stiffest test of the 2021 NFL season when they head into Arrowhead Stadium to face the Kansas City Chiefs.
It will be interesting to see whether head coach Mike McCarthy tries to match the Chiefs point for point, or whether he’ll emphasize Elliott and the ground game to keep Patrick Mahomes off the field.
It’s extremely difficult to bet against Kansas City at home, and the coaching edge in this game significantly favors the Chiefs.
Prediction: Chiefs 44, Cowboys 34 L
Week 12: Las Vegas Raiders
The Cowboys will return home for their customary Thanksgiving afternoon game, and will host the Las Vegas Raiders this year.
Dallas has been shellacked in each of their last two Thanksgiving games, and the Raiders will not provide a cupcake, get right matchup.
After circling the Chiefs game on their calendar, Dallas might come out flat in this one, which will be just the advantage Las Vegas needs to pull out the road victory.
Prediction: Raiders 26, Cowboys 21 L
Week 13: At New Orleans Saints
With three straight losses heading into December, the Stephen A. Smith’s of the world will likely jump at the chance to write off the Cowboys for good.
Dallas will get a second straight Thursday game in Week 13, this time in the Superdome against the New Orleans Saints.
It’s anyone’s guess as to who will be playing quarterback for the Saints in this game.
Dallas will likely try to simplify their offense and get back to basics in New Orleans to neutralize their crowd (assuming there is one), and will get back on the winning track.
Predicition: Cowboys 27, Saints 19 W
Week 14: At Washington Football Team
It’s a bit of weird scheduling quirk, but Dallas will not face the Washington Football Team until Week 14, which is extremely late in the season to be squaring off with a division rival for the first time.
Likely facing cold temperatures and potentially inclement weather, the date of this game figures to favor the type of style Washington figures to employ in 2021.
Prediction: Washington 23, Cowboys 17 L
Week 15: At New York Giants
The Cowboys will remain ensconced in the NFC East during Week 15, when they’ll travel up I-95 to play the Giants at Metlife Stadium.
This figures to be a critical game for both teams, who have aspirations of winning the division and hosting a playoff game in January 2022.
Prescott has had a few memorable moments in New York during important games, while we still have yet to see Daniel Jones secure a victory in a big moment.
Prediction: Cowboys 31, Giants 24 W
Week 16: Washington Football Team
With their Week 14 matchup fresh in their minds, the Cowboys will look for revenge against their division foes at home.
The elements will be ideal in Dallas to help even the score, and the coaching staff will likely find a way to make an adjustment or two against Washington’s ferocious pass rush.
Look for perhaps the least heralded of Dallas’ wide receiver trio, Michael Gallup, to have a big game in this one while the attention is focused elsewhere.
Prediction: Cowboys 33, Washington 21 W
Week 17: Arizona Cardinals
Two potentially embattled coaches will square off in Week 17 with their playoff lives and job security at stake.
Kliff Klingbury will return to Texas to make a statement against the Cowboys, something he already did last year on Monday Night Football when his Arizona Cardinals throttled Dallas 38-10.
This game figures to be much more competitive, and with Kenyan Drake no longer in Arizona, Dallas figures to contain their ground game a bit better.
Prediction: Cowboys 27, Cardinals 26 W
Week 18: At Philadelphia Eagles
The scenarios for Week 18 are endless with the extra week and extra playoff spot, but with Dallas projected to have nine wins at this point, this matchup with the Eagles figures to be extremely important.
They might have the chance to lock up a division crown or a Wild Card spot with a victory.
Considering the fact that it’s unlikely the Eagles contend for the playoffs this year, Dallas should be able to jump on them early, and maintain their lead with a heavy dose of the ground game.
Prediction: Cowboys 26, Eagles 15
Projected Final Record: 10-7