Dallas Cowboys 2013 Schedule Analysis

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Athlon breaks down each and every team's schedule for the 2013 NFL season.

<p> Athlon breaks down each and every team's schedule for the 2013 NFL season.</p>

Jason Garrett and Tony Romo both enter what is a pivotal year for them and the Cowboys. A trip to the playoffs is a must and since scheduling plays a huge role in the outcome of every NFL season, Athlon is analyzing every team's 16-game slate.

Dallas Cowboys 2013 Schedule:

Week 1: New York Giants
Week 2: at Kansas City
Week 3: St. Louis
Week 4: at San Diego
Week 5: Denver
Week 6: Washington
Week 7: at Philadelphia
Week 8: at Detroit
Week 9: Minnesota
Week 10: at New Orleans
Week 11: BYE
Week 12: at New York Giants
Week 13: Oakland (Thurs.)
Week 14: at Chicago (Mon.)
Week 15: Green Bay
Week 16: at Washington
Week 17: Philadelphia

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Out of the Gate: Despite the brutal opening weekend rivalry game with the Giants, Dallas has a very manageable first month of the 2013 season. Kansas City, St. Louis and San Diego all missed the playoffs a year ago and all are picked to be at home this postseason as well. All could be improved this fall, so this month isn't a gimme but the Cowboys could easily be 3-1 heading into October.

Toughest Stretch: The final month of the season will be tough for the Boys. Week 12 to Week 16 — despite a game with lowly Oakland at home — features four huge games with NFC rivals. Nasty road trips to face the Giants, Bears and Redskins sandwiched around a home game with Green Bay serve as massive speed bumps during the most critical stretch of the season. The only good news is Dallas will get an off weekend before heading into this five-week stretch.

Swing Games: STL (Week 3), at NO (Week 10)
Crossover Divisions: NFC North, AFC West
Bye Week: Week 11
Opp. 2012 W/L %: .480 (25th)
Athlon's SOS Rank: 25th

Easiest Stretch: In addition to three winnable games in September (see "Out of the Gate"), the Cowboys also should be able to make some headway in Week 6-9. During this stretch, the Cowboys will face four teams not picked to make the playoffs. Home games with Washington and Minnesota are sandwiched around road games with the Eagles and Lions — two teams who combined for 24 losses a year ago. Both of these portions of the schedule should give Dallas a chance to pad its win total.

Circle The Calendar: Home games with both Manning brothers, Aaron Rodgers and Adrian Peterson will be great. And most every NFC East showdown is massive. But how can a home game in Week 17 against Philadelphia not be the most important of the season? Dallas has had the opportunity in each of the last two seasons to get into the playoffs with a win on the final Sunday of the year. Jason Garrett and company lost both of these games and therefore has missed the postseason both times. A win against the Eagles in the season finale could change that trend and send this once proud franchise back into the playoffs.

Divisional Notes: The always important, always heated NFC East rivalry games will come in bunches this year. The two games with the Giants are randomly located in Week 1 and Week 12, but Dallas will play back-to-back divisional games twice with Washington and Philly. The first meetings come in Week 6 and 7 before ending the season with, you guessed it, Washington and Philly. Few teams will play back-to-back divisional games to end the season like the Cowboys will in 2013.

Playoff Push: As mentioned earlier, the final month of the season looks to be the toughest stretch to Dallas' season. The Giants, Bears, Packers and Redskins could all be fighting for NFC playoff seeding and all four are on the Cowboys slate in the final six weeks. Winnable games with Oakland and Philadelphia at home are the only comfort for Dallas after taking their off weekend in Week 11.

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Fantasy Playoff Run (Weeks 14-16): Road games in Chicago are rarely fun, let alone for a Monday night game in December. And don’t forget that the Bears intercepted five Tony Romo passes when they last met. The Packers were no slouch against the pass (11th) either, although that Week 16 date in Washington (30th) could be a different story. Romo threw for 659 yards and five TDs (along with five INTs) in two games against the Redskins last season.


2013 Athlon Sports NFL team-by-team schedule analysis:

AFC East AFC North AFC South AFC West
Buffalo Baltimore Houston (6/19) Denver
Miami (6/25) Cincinnati Indianapolis (6/20) Kansas City (6/24)
New England (6/26) Cleveland Jacksonville (6/21) Oakland (6/28)
NY Jets (6/27) Pittsburgh (7/1) Tennessee (7/3) San Diego (7/2)
       
NFC East NFC North NFC South NFC West
Dallas Chicago Atlanta Arizona
NY Giants (6/25) Detroit (6/19) Carolina St. Louis (6/27)
Philadelphia (6/26) Green Bay (6/20) New Orleans (6/24) San Francisco (6/28)
Washington (7/3) Minnesota (6/21) Tampa Bay (7/2) Seattle (7/1)


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Ranking the NFL's Toughest Schedules of 2013
10 Things Every Fan Should Know about the 2013 NFL Schedule

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NFL Divisions: 

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