Dallas Cowboys: 2011 NFL schedule

Cowboys schedule: We've got you covered

April, 19, 2011
We still don't know if there will be a 2011 season, but if there is one and it starts on time, we now know when and where the Cowboys will be playing.

Here's a recap of our coverage of Tuesday's release of the NFL schedules:

Schedules: You can see the Cowboys schedule here and the full NFL schedule here.

Predictions: How will the Cowboys do? ESPNDallas.com's Tim MacMahon, Todd Archer and Calvin Watkins made their game-by-game predictions. And you can make your own picks, too.

Key games: Todd Archer says the Cowboys' five key games are all on the road.

Easy Street: ESPN's John Clayton says the NFC East teams, thanks to having the NFC West's teams on their schedule, have an advantage in 2011.

The competition: You can get analyses of each NFC East team's schedule here, and a breakdown of every NFL team's schedule here.

Weeks 9-13 offer Cowboys chance to make run

April, 19, 2011
IRVING, Texas -- If you’re looking for a soft underbelly of the Cowboys’ schedule, it comes Nov. 6-Dec. 4. And we say this knowing that predicting future results on past records is a dangerous game. Even more dangerous when you factor in the Cowboys finished 6-10 last season.

But over that stretch the Cowboys play Seattle, Buffalo, Washington, Miami and Arizona. Those teams were a combined 29-51 in 2010. If the Cowboys want to get a jump heading into the final four games of the season, then they must go at least 4-1 (if not 5-0) during that run.

Cowboys Stadium has not proven to be a difficult place to play in its brief history, but the Cowboys will be favored to beat the Seahawks, Bills and Dolphins (even if Tony Sparano’s crew was 7-1 on the road last year). They have lost in strange ways at Washington and Arizona over the last five seasons, so at some point they figure to win a game at FedEx Field and University of Phoenix Stadium in a strange way.

With a strong sprint here, the Cowboys could be in decent shape considering the final four games come against teams that finished 10-6 last year (New York Giants, Tampa Bay, Philadelphia).

If not, then they could be fighting to the finish just to make a wild-card spot.

Jason Garrett's focus already on the Jets

April, 19, 2011
IRVING, Texas -- Ten years ago, Jason Garrett was a backup quarterback on the New York Giants when terrorists flew planes into the World Trade Center Towers. This September he will return as the Cowboys' head coach to open the season Sept. 11 against the New York Jets.

“There will be a mix of emotions,” Garret said on NFL Network. “We’ll be excited to get started, but we’ll certainly understand the circumstances for all of the people in New York City.”

Garrett spent roughly five minutes on NFL Network on Tuesday. His focus in terms of the schedule was getting ready for the Jets.

“There are lots of different ways to look at [the schedule],” Garrett said. “Fans have a certain perspective and players do. Really, as coaches, what you’ve got to focus on is that first game. We’ll gear a lot of our preparation through training camp for that first game like we’ve done in the past. That’s just what you do. Coaches preach all the time take them one day at a time, one game at a time, and we’ll certainly do that. We have a lot of exciting challenges after that, but we’ve got to get focused on the Jets game first.”

Garrett said he has had a “brief conversation” with defensive coordinator Rob Ryan about the opener against Ryan’s twin, Rex. Last year, the Ryans had fun at each other’s expense when the Jets played Cleveland.

“I think they’ve had a little back and forth,” Garrett said. “It’ll be an exciting night for everybody, particularly the Ryan family.”

Cowboys remain darlings of network TV

April, 19, 2011

IRVING, Texas -- The Cowboys might have finished 6-10 in 2010, but they are still the darlings of the networks.

The ratings don’t lie.

The Cowboys have five night games in addition to the annual Thanksgiving Day game. And if they are in the playoff chase, then one of the last two games of the season could be moved to primetime as well.

The Cowboys open the year on NBC’s Sunday Night Football on Sept. 11 at the New York Jets. In Week 3, they will host Washington on ESPN’s Monday Night Football. NBC will have two more Cowboys games, televising two NFC East games (Oct. 30 at Philadelphia, Dec. 11 vs. the New York Giants). NFL Network will broadcast the Dec. 17 matchup at Tampa Bay.

Since 2006, the Cowboys will have made 36 appearances on national television. Not even a disastrous 2010 season could slow that pace.

A deeper look at the Cowboys schedule

April, 19, 2011
OK, based on the season not being delayed because of the labor dispute, we've basically all seen the Cowboys' schedule.

Let's take a closer look:

Road games: The Cowboys open the season with road games against the New York Jets and San Francisco 49ers. The last time Dallas opened with its first two games on the road was 1997, and it split those games. Dallas won the season opener at Pittsburgh and lost the following week in overtime at Arizona. By the way, that was coach Barry Switzer's last season and the Cowboys finished at 6-10. ... There is nothing good that comes with playing in New England. However, the Cowboys will be coming off a bye and chances of bad weather are minimized with the game on Oct. 16. The Cowboys are 4-1 coming off byes the last five seasons. ... Two of the last three games are on the road and don't seem to be easy games. Dallas is at Tampa Bay on Dec. 17, a prime-time game on NFL Network, and finishes the season on New Year's Day at the New York Giants.

Home games: The Cowboys open the home schedule against Washington on Sept. 26 on ESPN. The first two home games could set the tone for the Cowboys. Washington most likely will have a new quarterback, but the Cowboys will need to win this game because the next week the improving Detroit Lions come to Cowboys Stadium. Highland Park's Matthew Stafford hasn't played an NFL game in Cowboys Stadium, so he'll be a little excited about the game. Dallas needs to win these two home games before going into the bye week. ... A two-game homestand, vs. Seattle and Buffalo should give the Cowboys a lift going into a road game at Washington on Nov. 20.

Division games:NFL commissioner Roger Goodell wanted the latter part of the schedules to mean something and that's why he's asked the schedule makers to put an emphasis on division games in November and December. The Cowboys play four division games the last two months of the season and take on the Giants twice in the last four weeks. Dallas plays three division games the last four weeks. ... The Cowboys went 3-3 in the division last year, pretty good considering how the overall season went. It would have been better if not for that season-opening loss at Washington. ... The Cowboys' first division game comes in their home opener against Washington on ESPN on Sept. 26. The Cowboys have a .582 winning percentage all-time within the division.

Jason Garrett games:Jason Garrett makes his non-interim debut Sept. 11 at the New York Jets. Previous Cowboys coaches who won their season debuts were Wade Phillips, Chan Gailey and Barry Switzer. Bill Parcells, Dave Campo, Jimmy Johnson and Tom Landry all lost their first games. ... Garrett faces first-year coach Jim Harbaugh in Week 2 at San Francisco. The Cowboys have won their last two meetings against the 49ers. ... Garrett's biggest test will come late in the season. He's got three division games the last four weeks and five NFC games to close the season. If the Cowboys are in the playoff hunt, seedings will be on the line.

Cowboys open 2011 at Jets on Sept. 11

April, 19, 2011

The Cowboys will open the 2011 season with the Ryan Bowl as new defensive coordinator Rob Ryan will take on his brother, New York Jets coach Rex Ryan, in the season opener in the Meadowlands on Sept. 11 in the Sunday Night Football matchup on NBC.

It’s expected to become an emotional day in the New York area since that it is the 10th anniversary of the terrorist attacks.

The release of the NFL schedule Tuesday places the Cowboys in five prime-time games and on the road for the first two games of the season. It's also the 15th-hardest schedule in the league, based on opponents' 2010 cumulative record.

Dallas opens at the Jets on Sept. 11 in Jason Garrett’s first game as the full-time head coach. The next week the Cowboys visit first-year coach Jim Harbaugh and the San Francisco 49ers on Sept. 18.

This is the fourth consecutive season the Cowboys have started a season on the road.
The Cowboys will have their home opener on Sept. 26 vs. the Washington Redskins, a team with whom they split the season series with last season.

Other highlights on the schedule include the annual Thanksgiving Day game on Nov. 24, when the Cowboys will host the Dolphins and former Cowboys assistant coach Tony Sparano, the head coach at Miami.

Not only do the Cowboys open the season in the New York area, they get to finish it there as well. The Cowboys finish their 2011 schedule with a road game against the NFC East rival New York Giants.

The entire 2011 season is in doubt due to an unsettled labor situation. The league and the players are in talks about getting a new collective bargaining agreement, and if it’s not settled, the start of the 2011 season could be delayed.

However, Cowboys owner/general manager Jerry Jones has said he expects to have a football season this year and as a member of the labor committee. He was in Minneapolis on Tuesday as part of the labor discussions.

2011 Cowboys schedule

April, 19, 2011
A quick look at the schedule:

Sept. 11 at NY Jets, 7:20 p.m. NBC
Sept. 18 at San Francisco, 3:05 p.m.
Sept. 26 vs. Washington, 7:30 p.m. ESPN
Oct. 2 vs. Detroit, Noon
Oct. 9 Bye
Oct. 16 at New England, 3:15 p.m.
Oct. 23 vs. St. Louis, 3:15 p.m.
Oct. 30 at Philadelphia, 7:20 p.m. NBC
Nov. 6 vs. Seattle, Noon
Nov. 13 vs. Buffalo, Noon
Nov. 20 at Washington, Noon
Nov. 24 vs. Miami, 3:15 p.m.
Dec. 4 at Arizona, 3:15 p.m.
Dec. 11 vs. NY Giants, 7:20 p.m. NBC
Dec. 17 at Tampa Bay, 7:20 p.m. NFL Network
Dec. 24 vs. Philadelphia, 3:15 p.m.
Jan. 1 at NY Giants, Noon

Cowboys to open ’11 season at NY Jets

April, 19, 2011
IRVING, Texas -- Provided there is football in September, the Cowboys will open the 2011 season away from home for the eighth time in the last 10 years, and for the first time in franchise history it will be against the New York Jets.

The Cowboys and Jets will meet Sept. 11 on the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks.

The other storyline for the week will be the Ryan brothers. The Jets, who have made the AFC Championship Game the last two seasons, are coached by Rex Ryan, while Rob Ryan is in his first year as Cowboys defensive coordinator.

The Cowboys are 3-4 in road openers since 2002, losing last year at Washington, 13-7, when a potential game-winning touchdown pass from Tony Romo to Roy Williams was wiped out because of an Alex Barron penalty on the game’s final play. This will be the second time the Cowboys have opened a season in the Meadowlands. They beat the Giants, 35-0, to kick off the 1995 season at Giants Stadium. The Cowboys beat the Giants last year in their first trip to New Meadowlands Stadium.