The Dallas Cowboys have gotten a look at their 2024 NFL schedule, so they know what they are up against in their quest to make their fourth straight playoff appearance.

The Cowboys are entering next season with some pretty strange expectations. One might even say they are flying under the radar, as there are some who are projecting Dallas to miss the playoffs entirely as a result of the club's inactive offseason.

Not only did the Cowboys not really sign anyone of significance (unless you count linebacker Eric Kendricks), but they also lost numerous key pieces, such as offensive tackle Tyron Smith, center Tyler Biadasz and edge rusher Dorance Armstrong Jr.

Still, owner Jerry Jones is insisting the team is “all in” heading into 2024 (whatever that means, and I'm not even sure Jones knows), and in fairness, Dallas still boasts one of the more talented rosters in the NFC.

In order to make it back to the postseason and potentially make a legitimately deep playoff run for the first time in nearly three decades, however, the Cowboys are going to have to get through a very tough part of their schedule which we will discuss right now.

The Cowboys' first six weeks are absolutely brutal

Dallas Cowboys wide receiver CeeDee Lamb (88) celebrates with Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott (4) after scoring a touchdown during the first quarter against the New York Giants at AT&T Stadium.
Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

Let's be honest: Dallas' entire schedule is tough, but sometimes, you can get off to a great start by beating up on cupcakes before getting into the meat of your schedule in the middle of the season.

That won't be the case for the Cowboys.

Dallas' first six games will come against the Browns, Saints, Ravens, Giants, Steelers and Lions before the club gets its Week 7 bye. Three of those games are on the road, including the season opener at Cleveland and Week 5 in Pittsburgh. The Cowboys will also play New York away from home during that stretch.

Talk about a rough stretch. They get the league's No. 1-ranked defense from 2023 in Week 1, play the team with the best record in football last year in Week 3 and also have the NFC runner-up against Detroit in Week 6. New Orleans finished a respectable 9-8 this past season, the Steelers made the playoffs and the Giants should be much improved.

The Cowboys absolutely have to manage to stay afloat before the bye, as their schedule does not get any easier afterward. As a matter of fact, they are at San Francisco right out of the bye week and are then at Atlanta the following Sunday.

Luckily, Dallas then has a stretch where four of its next five game are at home, including meetings with the Eagles, Texans and Bengals. Not that that is an easy run by any stretch of the imagination, but at least the Cowboys will be playing some good teams in their own building.

If Dallas is able to get through those first six weeks at 4-2, it will be in great shape the rest of the way. That doesn't necessarily mean that the Cowboys will cruise to a playoff berth, but it will absolutely make things more manageable.

It's also important to note that Philadelphia will be playing a very similar schedule, as the NFC East will be playing the AFC North and NFC South this season. But man. Those other random meetings for the Cowboys—at the 49ers and then home against the Texans—are just murderous.

Dallas has rattled off three straight 12-win campaigns, but judging from its 2024 schedule, it would be an incredibly impressive feat if the team pulled that off again. Honestly, 10 wins may be enough to win the NFC East division title. Obviously, 11 is probably the safer bet, but there is definitely a chance—a realistic one—that none of the NFC East teams get to 12 victories in 2024.

Of course, while we are looking at how tough this schedule is for the Cowboys, other teams are seeing Dallas on their own respective schedules and labeling it as a difficult matchup, as well. The only thing is, almost every week looks like an arduous task for Dallas next season.

But yeah. Those first six weeks are pivotal. The Cowboys may very well end up facing a must-win scenario against the Saints as soon as Week 2. That game is at home. Dallas absolutely cannot afford to lose that game. One could also argue that the Cowboys have to beat the Giants in Week 4, but that's a road game, and at some point, New York is going to break through against Dallas. As long as the Cowboys get a split with Big Blue, that should be alright.