Circle The Date: Five Must Win Games for the Dallas Cowboys

Michael DunhamCorrespondent IJuly 15, 2010

NEW ORLEANS - DECEMBER 19:  Miles Austin #19 of the Dallas Cowboys reacts after his 49-yard touchdown in the first quarter against the New Orleans Saints at the Louisiana Superdome on December 19, 2009 in New Orleans, Louisiana.  (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)
Chris Graythen/Getty Images

All champions have one thing in common, they are able to win when it matters most.

The Cowboys are coming off an 11-5 season and their first playoff victory in over a decade, but the pressure is still on as many believe this can be the first team to ever play in a Super Bowl at home.

If they hope to do so, they will have to play amazing football all season long. The NFC East is as tough as it always is, and their out of division schedule gives them the third toughest schedule in the NFL.

The Cowboys have arguably the toughest road schedule of any team in the league. The teams they must face on the road include all of their NFC East rivals plus Indianapolis, Minnesota, and Green Bay, to name a few. All the teams the Boys must face on the road in total had a combined record of 79-64.

All games are important and count the same, but these games are the ones that stick out as must wins when you look at the Boys schedule.

Dallas Cowboys at Minnesota Vikings

The first huge game on the Cowboys schedule comes in week six, where the Cowboys must return to face the team that ended their season last year.  

Ending their season is putting it lightly. The Vikings pummeled the Cowboys, who were thought to be the hottest team in the league at the time, 34-3.  

At this point of the season the Cowboys will have played @Washington, Chicago, @Houston, Tennessee, and had their bye week. The Cowboys should be at least 3-1 going into this game, if not 4-0, and if they are able to put a check mark in the win column against the Vikings it will send a message to the whole league that the Cowboys are for real this year.

Dallas Cowboys at Green Bay Packers

After a Monday night showdown against the Giants, and what should be an easy game against Jacksonville, the Cowboys travel to Green Bay to take on the Packers. Luckily, the Cowboys face the Packers in early November, when the weather should not be too much of a factor.  

The Cowboys and Packers have a history of great games with each other and this should be no different.  

The Pack are coming off an 11-5 season, which included a 17-7 win in Lambeau in early November. The Cowboys could end up playing the Packers in the playoffs, and a win in the regular season would give them a nice advantage.

New Orleans Saints at Dallas Cowboys

The Cowboys went into New Orleans last season and killed any hopes the Saints had at a perfect season. Let's hope the Cowboys can have a perfect record going into this game to make things really fun.  

The Super Bowl champion Saints will come into Dallas week 12 of the season to play the Cowboys on what should be the best Thanksgiving Day game this year.

The week 15 win over the Saints sent the Cowboys on a hot streak that helped them to first place in the NFC East and all the way to the Divisional round of the playoffs. With the Cowboys facing Indy, Philadelphia twice, Washington, and Arizona, they sure could use a win against the Saints to ignite a hot streak.

Dallas Cowboys at Indianapolis Colts

A week after the Cowboys play the Super Bowl champs, they have to travel to Indy and face the Super Bowl runner ups.  

This will be the first match up between the two teams since the Cowboys ruined the Colts quest for an undefeated season. It wouldn't surprise me at all if the Cowboys go into Indy with the same task of ending a run at a perfect season.  

Peyton Manning is coming off an MVP season, the fourth of his career, and will be looking to light up the scoreboards yet again in 2010.  

This game will be the biggest test of the season for safeties Alan Ball and Gerald Sensabaugh, as well as the rest of the Cowboys secondary.

Dallas Cowboys at Philadelphia Eagles

The last game of the 2009 regular season featured the Dallas Cowboys taking on the Philadelphia Eagles with the NFC East title on the line.  

The same stakes are a good possibility as the Cowboys, again, square off with the hated Philadelphia Eagles in what could determine the division.

The schedule makers love to have these two face off at the end of the season. The games have a trend of being blowouts, the Eagles beat the Cowboys 44-6 at the end of the '08 season in a game that knocked the Cowboys out of the playoffs. In 2009, it was the Cowboys turn to blow out the Eagles, 24-0, and set up a wild card round rematch.

Although I expect the Cowboys to win this game, their performance is important because it will help set the tone going into the playoffs.

Full Cowboys Schedule

Week 1: Sunday, September 12 @ Washington, 7:20 PM (SNF)

Week 2: Sunday, September 19 vs. Chicago, Noon

Week 3: Sunday, September 26 @ Houston, Noon

Week 4: Bye

Week 5: Sunday, October 10 vs. Tennessee, 3:15

Week 6: Sunday, October 17 @ Minnesota, 3:15

Week 7: Monday, October 25 vs. New York, 7:30 (MNF)

Week 8: Sunday, October 31 vs. Jacksonville, Noon

Week 9: Sunday, November 7 @ Green Bay, 7:20 (SNF)

Week 10: Sunday, November 14 @ New York, 3:15

Week 11: Sunday, November 21 vs. Detroit, Noon

Week 12: Thursday, November 25 vs. New Orleans, 3:15

Week 13: Sunday, December 5 @ Indianapolis, 3:15

Week 14: Sunday, December 12 vs. Philadelphia, 7:20 (SNF)

Week 15: Sunday, December 19 vs. Washington, Noon

Week 16: Saturday, December 25 @ Arizona, 6:30

Week 17: Sunday, January 2 @ Philadelphia, Noon


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