It's a new era of Dallas Cowboys football to be ushered in my Mike McCarthy -- a handpicked replacement for Jason Garrett by none other than Jerry Jones. If the first few months of the McCarthy era are any indication, expectations are sky-high for the first-year head coach. He will not be given a grace period, and I guess that's to be expected when you're head coach of the Cowboys. However, a case can be made that from a pure talent standpoint -- at least on paper -- this is the best roster McCarthy has ever had in his coaching career.

McCarthy inherits a team loaded with talent on both sides of the ball. Ezekiel Elliott and Amari Cooper have secured new contracts, Dak Prescott should be next and the Cowboys even managed to pull off an impressive draft class -- full of prospects who will be able to come in and make an immediate impact. We know the NFC East is looking a bit stronger than it did last season, but how about those matchups outside of the division? Will the schedule benefit the Cowboys this season as they gear up to pursue another Lombardi trophy?

Below, we'll break down Dallas' 2020 schedule by week and pinpoint all of the prime-time games to keep an eye on. We'll also dive into the Cowboys' strength of schedule, what we project as their toughest stretch of games and more. Without further ado, let's dive right into it.

2020 schedule (all times Eastern)

  • Week 1: Sept. 13 at Rams (Sunday Night Football), 8:20 p.m., NBC
  • Week 2: Sept. 20 vs. Falcons, 1 p.m., Fox
  • Week 3: Sept. 27 at Seahawks, 4:25 p.m., Fox
  • Week 4: Oct. 4 vs. Browns, 1 p.m., Fox
  • Week 5: Oct. 11 vs. Giants, 4:25 p.m., CBS
  • Week 6: Oct. 19 vs. Cardinals (Monday Night Football), 8:15 p.m., ESPN
  • Week 7: Oct. 25 at Redskins, 1 p.m., Fox
  • Week 8: Nov. 1 at Eagles (Sunday Night Football), 8:20 p.m., NBC
  • Week 9: Nov. 8 vs. Steelers, 4:25 p.m., CBS
  • Week 11: Nov. 22 at Vikings, 4:25 p.m., Fox
  • Week 12: Nov. 26 vs. Redskins (Thanksgiving), 4:30 p.m., Fox
  • Week 13: Dec. 3 at Ravens (Thursday Night Football), 8:20 p.m., Fox/NFL Network
  • Week 14: Dec. 13 at Bengals, 1 p.m., Fox
  • Week 15: Dec. 20 vs. 49ers (Sunday Night Football), 8:20 p.m., NBC
  • Week 16: Dec. 27 vs. Eagles, 4:25 p.m., Fox
  • Week 17: Jan. 3 at Giants, 1 p.m., Fox

Home opener

The Cowboys' first game played at home in 2020 will come against the Falcons in Week 2. 

The Pick Six Podcast gang fired up a new episode breaking down every eye-catching aspect of the NFL's schedule release. Give it a listen below, and be sure to subscribe on your favorite podcast platform:

Prime-time games

As noted above in the schedule breakdown, the Cowboys will be playing six prime-time games in 2020 if you count their Thanksgiving matchup with the Redskins. They will have three on the road and three at home. In 2019, the Cowboys played in five prime-time games: Week 4 against the Saints on "Sunday Night Football," Week 7 against the Eagles on "Sunday Night Football," Week 9 against the Giants on "Monday Night Football," Week 10 against the Vikings on "Sunday Night Football" and Week 14 against the Bears on "Thursday Night Football." 

The Cowboys have high expectations in 2020 and Sportsline is here to deliver game-by-game betting trends for every matchup on Dallas' schedule.

Toughest stretch

The Cowboys' toughest stretch occurs late in the season. They have to travel to Baltimore to take on the Ravens on Thursday night in Week 13 and then Cincinnati the following Sunday. While they get a long week to prepare for the worst team in the league last year, with Joe Burrow you have no idea if this could be a trap game on the road late in the season. They then face the defending NFC champion 49ers at home in prime time, and then host the Eagles in Week 16. If the Cowboys get off to a hot start in the beginning of the season, maybe this stretch won't matter that much. But if they are neck and neck with the Eagles down the back half of the schedule, the Cowboys can't afford to slip up late in the season against a couple of tough opponents. 

Strength of schedule

Earlier this offseason, John Breech broke down the 2020 strength of schedule for all 32 NFL teams based on combined opponent winning percentage in 2019. The Cowboys will face the third-easiest strength of schedule in 2020. For a complete look at every team's strength of schedule, check out Breech's breakdown here.

However, when basing strength of schedule on the over/under win totals for each team's opponents during the 2020 season at William Hill, the Cowboys go from facing the third-easiest schedule in the league to facing the No. 10 easiest schedule. For a complete look at every team's strength of schedule using this methodology, check out Jared Dubin's full breakdown here.