Tuesday evening, the NFL released the 2021 schedule with the usual abundance of pomp and circumstance. Of course, the Dallas Cowboys never miss a chance to get in on spectacles as evidence by this ridiculous, but fun hype video.
What’s more important, however, is the actual games that are coming their way in September. While past successes are never guaranteed to carry over to future seasons, the list of Cowboys’ opponents in 2021 are sure to test the team’s new defensive scheme.
If you strictly go by records, the Dallas Cowboys supposedly have the easiest schedule along with Philadelphia and Atlanta. A closer look at the opponents, however, reveals some serious tests.
Of the top ten scoring teams in 2020, Dallas is set to play four of those teams. The Cowboys start the season on the road at Tampa Bay, who finished third in scoring offense. Later on, the Cowboys face Kansas City (6th), Las Vegas (10th), and New Orleans (5), back-to-back-to-back to finish November and start December.
The Dallas Cowboys also have the challenge of facing five of last year’s top seven passing offenses in 2021. The Chiefs (1st), Buccaneers (2nd), Falcons (5th), Chargers (6th), and Raiders (7th) will all be itching to test out the Cowboys’ brand new secondary.
Don’t think for a moment that the Cowboys’ run defense won’t be tested either. Five of last year’s ten best rushing squads get Dallas on their schedule. This includes the fourth (New England), fifth (Minnesota), sixth (New Orleans), and seventh (Arizona) best rushing offenses.
Even teams that you may look upon as “breaks” for the Cowboys defense, such as the New York Giants and Carolina Panthers should be decidedly better in 2021. The Giants will get their star player back in running back Saquon Barkley. The Panthers, meanwhile, will not only get their star running back Christian McCaffrey back but they also will have Sam Darnold at quarterback.
Last season, the Dallas Cowboys gave up the fifth-most points in the league. They also gave up the second-most rushing yards. As a result, six pending defensive free agents were all allowed to leave. The Cowboys brought in five new free agents and used their first six draft picks all on defensive players.
Most notably, however, Dallas fired their defensive coordinator and brought in a proven winner in Dan Quinn. With new schemes, new players, and a younger, faster squad, it’s safe to say that the Cowboys are trying everything they can to improve this unit. The 2021 schedule will definitely challenge these moves. Hopefully, this team is up for that challenge.