MINNEAPOLIS - JANUARY 17: Tony Romo #9 of the Dallas Cowboys reacts during the game against the Minnesota Vikings during the NFC Divisional Playoff Game at Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome on January 17, 2010 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The Vikings defeated the Cowboys 34-3. (Photo by Chris McGrath/Getty Images)
The Bleacher Report has circled the date on five key games for the Cowboys in the upcoming season -- and while playing in the NFC East makes it hard not to have six must-win games every season, they did a pretty good job of nailing down five statement games, all of which are outside of the division and four of which are on the road.
They pinpoint @Minnesota, @Green Bay, New Orleans, @Indianapolis and the regular season finale at Philadelphia as the key matchups. They could have just as easily included both Philly games and at least one of the contests with the Giants. And then who can forget McNabb's Redskins.
Yeah, it's quite a schedule for the Cowboys this year and there isn't a lot of room for slip-ups.
Coming off their 12-6 season, which included the team's first playoff win in more than a decade, much is expected of this year's squad by fans and members of the media alike. Many of whom would love to see, along with owner Jerry Jones, the team play for the title in their own house.
The tests will come early with Dallas traveling to Minnesota in Week 7 for their sixth game. There will be little rest with contests against the Giants (twice), Jaguars and Packers coming soon after, before meeting the Saints on Thanksgiving Day.
If they can get to December with a 9-2 or 8-3 record -- they'll be well positioned to face Indy, Washington, Arizona and Philly (twice) in the last few weeks of the season.
The Cowboys defensive secondary will have the opportunity to test the best QBs in the game in Brett Favre, Drew Brees and Peyton Manning.
To get there, they'll have to do what they're supposed to and that's win when you're expected to -- against teams like Washington, Chicago, Houston and Detroit. If there is a slip up there, there isn't a lot of room to recover and salvage the season.