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The Dallas Cowboys were the favorites to win the NFC East prior to Dak Prescott's season-ending leg injury. Once Prescott was lost for the season, Dallas' division chances died a slow death -- remaining in the division hunt until the season's final week before finally being eliminated. With Prescott back healthy and a talented trip of wide receivers in Amari Cooper, Michael Gallup, and CeeDee Lamb, the Cowboys are favorites to win the division again with the NFC East's most dynamic offense. Dallas seeks to improve the league's worst defense by adding Dan Quinn as defensive coordinator and selecting Micah Parsons in the first round of the NFL Draft

Here's a full rundown of the Cowboys' 17-game schedule, including key matchups and a season prediction:

2021 Cowboys schedule

WeekOpponentDateTime (ET)Network

1

at Buccaneers 

Sept. 9

8:20 p.m.

NBC

2

at Chargers

Sept. 19

4:25 p.m. 

CBS

3

vs. Eagles (MNF)

Sept. 27

8:15 p.m.

ESPN

4

vs. Panthers

Oct. 3

1 p.m. 

Fox

5

vs. Giants

Oct. 10

4:25 p.m.

Fox

6

at Patriots

Oct. 17

4:25 p.m.

CBS

7

BYE WEEK

8

at Vikings

Oct. 31

8:20 p.m.

NBC

9

vs. Broncos

Nov. 7

1 p.m.

Fox

10

vs. Falcons

Nov. 14 

1 p.m.

Fox

11

at Chiefs

Nov. 21

4:25 p.m.

Fox

12

vs. Raiders (Thanksgiving)

Nov. 25

4:30 p.m.

Fox

13

at Saints (TNF)

Dec. 2

8:20 p.m.

Fox/NFLN/Amazon

14

at Washington

Dec. 12

1 p.m.

Fox

15

at Giants

Dec. 19

1 p.m.

Fox

16

vs. Washington (SNF)

Dec. 26

8:20 p.m.

NBC

17

vs. Cardinals

Jan. 2

1 p.m.

Fox

18at EaglesJan. 91 p.m.Fox

Cowboys key games

  • Week 14 at Washington: Dallas has to make a statement against the defending division champions if the Cowboys want to win the NFC East. The Cowboys were swept by Washington in embarrassing fashion last season, but Prescott didn't play in either of those games. Let's see how Dallas fares with Prescott under center in the first meeting. 
  • Week 6 at Patriots: Thanks to the NFL's 17th game, the Cowboys drew the Patriots by virtue of finishing in third place in the NFC East (Patriots were third in the AFC East). New England will have something to prove in this one, too, as the Patriots will need to beat the NFC East favorites to have a leg up in a loaded AFC East. The Patriots defense will be an excellent test for Dallas, as Prescott and the talented passing game didn't score a touchdown in their last trip to Foxborough two years ago. 
  • Week13 at Saints: The Superdome hasn't been kind to the Cowboys, who haven't won there since 2009. Good news for Dallas is Drew Brees retired, so this could be a winnable game (especially since the Cowboys won't be on a short week with Thursday Night Football). This matchup is a toss-up since the Saints are still talented, but how will the quarterback play shake out? The Cowboys will find out soon. 

Cowboys toughest matchup

Week: 11 | Date: Nov. 21 | Time: 4:25 p.m. ET
Opponent: at Kansas City Chiefs

Playing Patrick Mahomes is already a tough challenge for the Cowboys defense, but trying to win a game against one of the league's best teams at Arrowhead Stadium is a daunting task. This is a game Cowboys fans won't be upset if Dallas loses (given how good Kansas City is), but the Chiefs can be beaten if Prescott plays at the level he performed in the first five games of the 2020 season. The Cowboys haven't beaten the Chiefs at Arrowhead since 2009.

Cowboys projected win total

2021 record prediction: 10-7

Dallas is the favorite to win the NFC East and has the strength of schedule in its favor. The final seven games on the Cowboys schedule will determine how good this Cowboys team will be, especially since four of them are against division opponents. Dallas can earn the division title by taking care of business and winning at least five games in this stretch -- which are the expectations with Dak Prescott back at full strength.