IRVING, Texas – The sting of a 4-12 season isn't going to affect the Cowboys' visibility in 2016, as they've been tabbed to play in six nationally televised games this fall.
The NFL announced its 2016 schedule on Thursday evening, highlighted once again by a Cowboys' home opener against the New York Giants on Sept. 11 at AT&T Stadium. For the second-straight season, the Cowboys also start their season with back-to-back NFC East games, as they'll travel to face the Washington Redskins in Week 2.
More telling than the opening to the season, though, is the sheer volume of national broadcasts awaiting the Cowboys this coming season.
Beginning in Week 3, at home against the Chicago Bears, the Cowboys will appear on NBC's Sunday Night Football a total of three times. They'll also play on Sunday night in Week 8 against Philadelphia, as well as Week 14, on the road against the Giants.
On top of that, Dallas will play another Thursday night road game when they travel to face the Minnesota Vikings on Dec. 1 – a game that will be triple-cast between NBC, NFL Network and Twitter. The Cowboys are also slated for one appearance on ESPN's Monday Night Football this season, as they'll host the Detroit Lions on Dec. 26.
Factor that in with the traditional 3:30 p.m. Thanksgiving Day home kickoff against the Washington Redskins, and the Cowboys are slated for a whopping six nationally televised games this season.
That doesn't even include other late afternoon kickoffs, of which there are five. Dallas will open the season at 3:25 p.m. against the Giants. They'll also play in that time slot on Oct. 2 at San Francisco, Oct. 9 against Cincinnati and Oct. 16 at Green Bay. Their Week 10 game at Pittsburgh, on Nov. 13, will also be a 3:25 p.m. kick.
All in all, the Cowboys are only scheduled to play early games on five occasions this coming season. Their Week 2 trip to Washington is slated for noon central. They'll play at noon on the road against Cleveland on Nov. 6 and home against Baltimore on Nov. 20, and they'll host the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at noon on Dec. 18.
The regular season finale, at Philadelphia on New Year's Day, is tentatively scheduled for noon – though the NFL reserves the right to flex a game to primetime on the last day of the season.
Aside from its visibility, some of the quirks of the schedule are remarkable – starting with the opener, for instance. The Week 1 homestand against the Giants will mark the third time in the last four seasons the Cowboys have hosted their division rivals to start a season. Including the 2012 trip to play at MetLife Stadium, this will be the fifth time in the last six seasons the Cowboys and Giants have opened a season against each other.
In a rather amazing stat, the Cowboys are 8-0 against the Giants in season openers. They downed the Giants, 24-17, in New York's first game after winning Super Bowl XLVI in 2012. In 2013, the Dallas defense forced five takeaways in a 36-31 win at AT&T Stadium. Last season, the Cowboys overcame three costly turnovers to beat the Giants, 27-26, in the game's dying minutes.
The Oct. 16 trip to play Green Bay marks the earliest the Cowboys have played the Packers in their last five meetings. In fact, of the 15 times the Cowboys have traveled to play the Packers, eight of those meetings have come in November or later.
This season will also mark the first time in several years that the Cowboys won't find themselves on the road prior to Thanksgiving. In each of the last three seasons, they've played on the road prior to the short week before the holiday. This year, they'll host Baltimore four days before welcoming Washington to AT&T Stadium for the traditional Thanksgiving game.[embeddedad0]
The Week 13 trip to Minnesota will also mark the second time in three years that Dallas will play on back-to-back Thursdays. The Cowboys traveled to Chicago one week after losing to Philadelphia on Thanksgiving in 2014. This year they'll travel to play the Vikings in their new stadium the week after the Thanksgiving game.
The full schedule can be seen below: