Dallas Cowboys schedule 2024: Takeaways, predictions

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FRISCO, Texas -- The Dallas Cowboys' 2024 schedule was released along with the rest of the NFL slate Wednesday.

The Cowboys have their normal six prime-time games with three on the road and three at AT&T Stadium, including both games on ESPN's Monday Night Football, against the Houston Texans and Cincinnati Bengals.

The bye comes in Week 7 for the second straight season, but it's sandwiched between two of what should be the more difficult games against last year's NFC Championship teams, the Detroit Lions and San Francisco 49ers. Having that extra time to get ready to play the Niners is a good thing but is followed by a trip to Atlanta the following week, which makes for an interesting travel situation.

Here's what's in store for the Cowboys:

Week 1: Sept. 8 at Cleveland

Week 2: Sept. 15 vs. New Orleans

Week 3: Sept. 22 vs. Baltimore

Week 4: Sept. 26 at NY Giants (Prime)

Week 5: Oct. 6 at Pittsburgh (NBC)

Week 6: Oct. 13 vs. Detroit

Week 7: Oct. 20 BYE

Week 8: Oct. 27 at San Francisco (NBC)

Week 9: Nov. 3 at Atlanta

Week 10: Nov. 10 vs. Philadelphia

Week 11: Nov. 18 vs. Houston (ESPN)

Week 12: Nov. 24 at Washington

Week 13: Nov. 28 vs. NY Giants

Week 14: Dec. 9 vs. Cincinnati (ESPN)

Week 15: Dec. 15 at Carolina

Week 16: Dec. 22 vs. Tampa Bay (NBC)

Week 17: Dec. 29 at Philadelphia

Week 18: Jan 4 or 5 vs. Washington

*Date for Week 18 is to be determined

Strength of schedule: The Cowboys are tied for the 12th-hardest schedule in the league (opponents had a .505 winning percentage in 2023).

Over/Under: 10.5

Biggest takeaway

The schedule is not easy, but it does appear somewhat favorable when compared to recent schedules. Seven of the Cowboys' first 10 games are against 2023 playoff teams, so in order to make the playoffs for a fourth straight season, which is something they've not done since the early-to-mid 1990s, they will need to survive and take advantage of what is an easier path later on in the season that features three of the final five at home and a road trip to Carolina. Dallas has three games in 11 days against the Texans, Washington Commanders and New York Giants, but has a 10-day break before playing the Bengals on Monday Night Football in Week 14.

Revenge game

Opening the season against former receiver Amari Cooper and the Cleveland Browns? Either game against former coordinator Dan Quinn, now the Washington coach? A Monday Night Football meeting versus in-state rival Houston? None of the above. It's still San Francisco. The 49ers did not end the Cowboys' season last year, but they have been the thorn in this team's side. They ended their 2022 season and crushed the Cowboys, 42-10, in the 2023 regular season at Levi's Stadium. San Francisco is the standard in the NFC and at some point, the Cowboys have to show they can reach their level.

Bold prediction

The Week 17 meeting against the Eagles will be moved to prime time and will be for the NFC East championship. History is not on the Cowboys' side, since no team has repeated as NFC East champ since the 2003-04 Eagles. While the Cowboys have not made the moves many wanted in free agency -- anybody remember owner Jerry Jones' "all-in"? -- there is still a distance between Dallas and Philadelphia compared to the Giants and Washington. Imagine a cold-weather night game at Lincoln Financial Field? A ratings monster.