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10 Thoughts on the Cowboys' Schedule

1. The Cowboys open on the road for the first time since 2012 against the Carolina Panthers. Dallas is 1-1 against quarterback Cam Newton.

2. Dez Bryant has said he wants to play for the New York Giants. Oh what a game — what a week — it would be if he were to return to Dallas for this game in Week 2 as a member of the New York Football Giants. The ratings would be off the charts.

3. The Cowboys have six national TV games. Three are at AT&T Stadium: The New York Giants on Sunday Night Football (Sept. 16), The Tennessee Titans on Monday Night Football (Nov. 5) and Washington (Nov. 22) on Thanksgiving Day. The Cowboys' three prime time games on the road are against the Houston Texans (Oct. 7), the Philadelphia Eagles on Sunday Night Football  (Nov. 11) and the New Orleans Saints on Thursday Night Football  (Nov. 29).

4. The trip to Seattle in Week 3 will be interesting for no other reason than Earl Thomas will still be with the Seahawks and there will be a ton of talk about the Cowboys' interest on him. Or Thomas might be in Dallas, which will make for a fascinating week.

5. A three-game homestand from Nov. 22-Dec 9, starting on Thanksgiving Day against Washington, followed by a Thursday night contest against New Orleans and concluding with a game against Philadelphia could play a huge role in determining the Cowboys' playoff fate.

6. Only one of the Cowboys' first six games is against a division opponent, which means they have time to find a groove before their most important games begin.

7. Dallas has only one set of back-to-back road games. They play Philadelphia and Atlanta on Nov. 11 and Nov. 18.

8. Only two of the last four games are against division rivals, which means they might need some help to capture the NFC East. They do end the season on the road against the Giants.

9. The Cowboys face a litany of quality quarterbacks outside the division:  Newton, Seattle's Russell Wilson, Detroit's Matthew Stanford, Houston's Deshaun Watson, Tennessee's Marcus Marriott, New Orleans' Drew Brees and Tampa Bay's Jameis Winston. By the time the Cowboys face the Colts in December, Andrew Luck could be back.

10. Coach Jason Garrett will face three first-time head coaches — Detroit's Matt Patrica, Tennessee's Mike Vrabel and Indianapolis' Frank Reich — which should be an advantage.

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