5 Must-Watch Matchups on Dallas Cowboys' 2014 Schedule
Dallas will take a tour of the AFC South and NFC West this season as well as participate in the NFL's annual game in London. If that's not enough intrigue for Cowboys nation, their team also has some key bouts with divisional foes late in the year that should make for some must-watch television.
Head coach Jason Garrett is in dire need of lifting his team up from three straight 8-8 season records. To do that, he'll have to pull up more than a few upsets and beat the beatable teams on the schedule.
Let's take a look at which matchups Garrett and the Dallas faithful likely already have circled.
Week 1 vs. San Francisco 49ers
Since the days of Roger Staubach, Drew Pearson and Joe Montana, the Cowboys and 49ers have developed quite the rivalry. That feud has died down some in recent years simply because the two aren't battling it out in NFC Championship games as much since the turn of the century.
The two teams last shared an NFL field in 2011 when the Cowboys pulled out a 27-24 overtime win in what would be their last trip to Candlestick Park.
Plenty has changed for the 49ers since then, though. Colin Kaepernick has completely changed how San Francisco runs its offense, and the defense has only gotten better.
The Cowboys will have their work cut out for them right out of the gates against a team that has played in the past two NFC title games.
Whether or not Dallas will be up to this big a challenge so early on will be interesting to see. It would also be a huge feather in Jason Garrett's cap if he can knock off the 49ers to earn his team's first win in 2014.
When it's the Cowboys and 49ers, there's no telling what will happen.
Week 6 at Seattle Seahawks
The Seattle Seahawks not only won the Super Bowl last season; they also smoked the Cowboys the last time the two met.
Back in 2012, the 'Boys made the trip up to Seattle's CenturyLink Field and were defeated 27-7 in a matchup that was never that close.
Quarterback Russell Wilson only threw for 151 yards in that victory, but he had a big helping hand from Marshawn Lynch. The veteran rusher tallied 122 yards and a touchdown on 26 carries for Seattle in that 2012 beatdown.
The Cowboys have lost a lot of vital pieces on defense, so a road game in Seattle might be too much for them to handle in their current state. That being said, this team gave the Broncos a run for their money last year, and they were the Seahawks' Super Bowl opponent.
Playing against the Seahawks in their home stadium is a daunting task. They are also essentially the same team that won the Super Bowl last year and beat the 'Boys in 2012. This is a measuring stick kind of game for Garrett.
Week 14 at Chicago Bears
For Cowboys fans, it must be starting to feel like Chicago is a divisional opponent. The past two seasons, Dallas has played the Bears and lost quite badly.
In 2014, the 'Boys will travel to Soldier Field for the second straight season to play the Bears for the third straight year.
Last year, backup quarterback Josh McCown and receivers Alshon Jeffery and Brandon Marshall lit up the Cowboys' secondary. The two wideouts finished with a touchdown apiece while McCown threw for 348 yards and four touchdowns.
The Bears beat up the Cowboys in every sense during that contest just a year after defeating them 34-18.
Despite Chicago missing the playoffs last season, this matchup is going to be every bit as tough as it was the last two occasions.
Jeffery has become a legit big-time receiving threat. Jay Cutler, barring any injury, will suit up under center against many of the same defenders his former backup torched last year.
Dallas is going to have to bring everything it has to Chicago in hopes of avenging two straight losses to the Bears in recent years. It's also important to note that since this is a Week 14 bout, failing to secure a win could have serious playoff implications for both teams.
Week 16 vs. Indianapolis Colts
The Colts game is intriguing because this is the first time Dallas will have played them since Peyton Manning was under center. It also marks the first time these two teams have met since 2010 when Jon Kitna subbed in for an injured Tony Romo at quarterback.
It will be interesting to see how defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli deals with Andrew Luck and T.Y. Hilton. The two have become quite the tandem in the passing game, and Marinelli will need to find a way to interrupt that connection early and often.
Offensively, the Cowboys will have to take advantage of a Colts unit that finished No. 26 against the run. All those fans that were begging for DeMarco Murray to get more touches last season could have big smiles on their face in this one.
The Colts are a young, talented squad that have big hopes in 2014. This matchup will give the Cowboys the chance to prove what they can do against the defending AFC South champions.
Week 17 at Washington Redskins
The Dallas Cowboys have played a divisional opponent on the final week of the season since 2007. They have won just two of those contests over that time frame.
This year, the Cowboys will travel to archrival Washington in what could be another battle for the NFC East crown. It could also be a game where Washington or Dallas will try to play spoiler to the other.
Regardless of the circumstances and playoff scenarios, this game is a must-watch for any Cowboys fan. If your favorite team is playing its most hated rival on the final week of the regular season, you have to watch, period.
Whether or not Dallas or Washington are in the playoff hunt by this point of the season, these two are going to do everything possible to beat the other. No team wants to lose its final regular-season game, especially to its biggest rival.
The Cowboys and Redskins rivalry is arguably the best one in all the league. It's certainly one of the most historic ones. This is a game that will be full of big hits and plays and shouldn't be missed by fans of either side.