They face DeMarco Murray in the second week of the season. Tom Brady and the defending champion Patriots come to town in Week 5, while last year’s top NFC team – the Seattle Seahawks – will visit in Week 8.
Those are among the more notable games for the Dallas Cowboys after a quick glance through the team’s 2015 schedule, released Tuesday night by the NFL.
The schedule answers plenty of off-season questions, ranging from how many primetime games to the date of the bye week to if it’s an easy or difficult stretch to open or close the season.
Among the highlights from the Cowboys’ schedule:
▪ Week 2 at Philadelphia. This ranks as one of top early-season games in the league, as the Cowboys take on former running back DeMarco Murray and the Eagles. Murray led the league in rushing last season for the Cowboys, and then bolted in free agency for a lucrative deal from the Eagles.
▪ More familiar faces. The Cowboys will see more familiar faces throughout the season, too. Kick returner Dwayne Harris is now with the Giants, their opponent in the season opener Sept. 13 and again on Oct. 25. Linebacker Justin Durant is now with the Falcons, their Week 3 opponent, and defensive end Anthony Spencer is with the Saints, their Week 4 opponent. And, of course, Tampa Bay poached plenty of Cowboys defenders this off-season, which should make for an interesting game Nov. 15. Defensive tackle Henry Melton, linebacker Bruce Carter and cornerback Sterling Moore all signed with the Bucs this offseason.
▪ Early bye. The Cowboys were given a bye in Week 6, following a showdown against the Patriots. The saying goes there is never a bad time for the bye week given the physical nature of the game, and the Cowboys won’t complain about this one. Plus, they essentially get another bye after a Thanksgiving Day game against Carolina later in the season. There is a 10-day break between that game and their next game – a Monday night showdown at Washington.
▪ Road tests. The Cowboys finish the season with five road games in their final eight with the five road contests coming in a seven-game stretch. They have consecutive games in Florida – at Tampa Bay (Nov. 15) and at Miami (Nov. 22) – before the Thanksgiving contest followed by two more road games – at Washington (Dec. 7) and at Green Bay (Dec. 13). They then host the New York Jets before heading to Buffalo for the first time in eight years.
▪ December notes. The Cowboys will play three games in 13 days in December – at Washington (Dec. 7), at Green Bay (Dec. 13) and home against the Jets (Dec. 19). The Dec. 19 contest is a Saturday night game scheduled to be broadcast on NFL Network, something that could affect the stadium’s ability to host the UIL state championships. The dates for those games are Dec. 17-19, including three scheduled for that Saturday.