Breaking Down the Dallas Cowboys' 2013 Opponents

Brad Gagnon@Brad_Gagnon NFL National ColumnistJanuary 16, 2013

NEW ORLEANS, LA - DECEMBER 30:  Drew Brees #9 of the New Orleans Saints rolls out looking for a receiver during a game against the Carolina Panthers at Mercedes-Benz Superdome on December 30, 2012 in New Orleans, Louisiana.  The Panthers defeated the Saints 44-38.  (Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images)
Wesley Hitt/Getty Images

On paper and based solely on what happened in 2012, the Dallas Cowboys will have the easiest schedule in the NFC in 2013. 

We know that because the Cowboys already know their 13 2013 opponents. 11 are predetermined based on an annual cycle, with only two opponents differing from your division mates' opponents based on where you finished the previous season. 

And that's a pretty good break when you consider that Dallas fell only a Week 17 victory shy of winning the NFC East for the second consecutive year. 

Dallas' 2013 opponents went 121-134-1 last season, giving up 118 points more than they scored. The Giants, Eagles and Redskins will all face teams that had a combined losing record in 2012. Here are opponents they will all share: Chicago (10-6), Detroit (4-12), Minnesota(10-6), Green Bay (11-5), Denver (13-3), Kansas City (2-14), Oakland (4-12) and San Diego (7-9). 

But the difference is in those two games against unique opponents. 

Record of non-common opponents:
Redskins: 24-7-1
Giants: 21-11
Cowboys: 17-14-1
Eagles: 9-23

While Washington and the Giants will have to play a combined total of three playoff teams in their four non-common matchups, Dallas and Philadelphia will get to play four opponents that had losing records. In the Cowboys' case, they will face New Orleans and St. Louis, both of whom won seven games. 

Just like the rest of the division, they will have to make exactly one trip to the West Coast. In their case, that'll be for a matchup with the Chargers. But where they really benefit is that they will only have to travel to play one 2012 playoff game away from home (Washington). The formula dictates that every team must play at least one reigning playoff team on the road, so the 'Boys are at the bare minimum there. 

By comparison, the Redskins, who won the division last year, will have to play five teams that had winning records in 2012 on the road. Five of the eight opponents that the Cowboys will play at home made the 2012 postseason, but that's where you'd prefer to play those teams. 

All in all, it's a favorable sked for "America's Team."

NFC East schedule breakdown:

See also: Opponent analysis for the Giants, Eagles and Redskins