Assuming the Cowboys win the NFC East, next year’s opponents are set already.
Each year the NFL makes a big production about ‘releasing the schedule’ in April. But the NFL’s scheduling formula has already determined 14 of 16 opponents each team will face next year, just not when and in what sequence.
And with that info, we can take a quick look at what the 2019 schedule should look like for the Cowboys.
Like every year, the Cowboys will play three home games and three away games against the NFC East in 2019. The NFC division on the schedule for 2019 is the NFC North; the AFC division is the AFC East. Finally, they’ll play a team each from the NFC West and NFC South that finishes in the same spot in their division as the Cowboys will in the NFC East.
The home and away matchups have also already been determined. Per the NFL Record & Fact Book these are:
|Home Opponents||Away Opponents|
|NFC East||Eagles (6-7)||Eagles (6-7)|
|Redskins (6-7)||Redskins (6-7)|
|Giants (5-8)||Giants (5-8)|
|NFC North||Packers (5-7-1)||Bears (9-4)|
|Vikings (6-5-1)||Lions (5-8)|
|AFC East||Bills (4-9)||Patriots (9-4)|
|Dolphins (7-6)||Jets (4-9)|
|NFC||NFC West opponent||NFC South opponent|
So the only unknown teams for the Cowboys are the intra-conference opponents from the NFC West and NFC South. The Cowboys have not yet clinched the NFC East but that’s just a matter of time. The Cowboys can lock up the NFC East this week with:
And even if they don’t do it this week, the odds remain overwhelmingly in their favor. Here are some of the calculated chances of the Cowboys taking the division title:
New York Times: 98%
Football Outsiders: 98.4%
ESPN’s FPI Index: 99.1%
So there you have it, all 16 opponents for 2019, and there could be a few interesting twists lurking in this schedule:
- The last time the Cowboys faced the combo of AFC East and NFC North was in 2007, when Dallas marched to a 13-3 record so that augurs well for 2019, eve though that team’s playoff success left a little to be desired.
- Going by the records of the 16 opponents through Week 14 of the 2018 season, the Cowboys face a slightly tougher schedule on the road than they do at home. The home opponents currently “only” combine for a 50-51-2 record (.495 strength of schedule) while the away opponents combine for a 55-49 record (.529 strength of schedule). The Cowboys would probably rather play in LA than in New Orleans, so that’s a bit of a downer, and the games in Chicago and Boston loom large.
- The Rams and Saints have both won their divisions in 2017 and 2018. The last time the Rams won the division title for three consecutive years was in the 70s, the last time the Saints did it was never. Once 2019 rolls around, that schedule might not look as daunting as it currently does.
- With the Cowboys on the schedule, maybe this is the year Tom Brady finally retires?
- But be that as it may, boy, the Eagles sure have the mother of all Super Bowl hangovers, don’t they?
What are your thoughts on the potential 2019 schedule?