FRISCO, Texas - With the exception of the NFL draft, it might be the most anticipated event of the offseason - schedule release day. On Wednesday evening, the league will officially announce its slate of games for the 2021 season.
Over the year, the NFL has succeeded in making a spectacle of the official release, but there's no denying the significance of the excitement of the event. This year's upcoming opponents have been set in stone since January, but the order of the games will determine a lot about the course of the season - not to mention, it will allow fans to plan for the potential return of crowds to NFL stadiums.
This year's schedule will also be larger. Thanks to a proposal written into the new Collective Bargaining Agreement and eventually approved by league owners, the NFL is shifting to a 17-game schedule in 2021. The 17th game will be cross-conference, with each AFC team hosting the same-place finisher from a pre-determined NFC division. The NFC will play host to the AFC next season.
The NFC East has been selected to play the AFC East this year, which means the Cowboys will travel to play New England this fall.
NFL Network will air a schedule release program on Wednesday night at 7 p.m. CT. It will also be available on DallasCowboys.com and all other Dallas Cowboys media platforms.
Until then, here's a reminder of the 2021 opponents:
Home: New York Giants, Philadelphia Eagles, Washington Football Team, Atlanta Falcons, Carolina Panthers, Arizona Cardinals, Denver Broncos, Las Vegas Raiders
Away: New York Giants, Philadelphia Eagles, Washington Football Team, New Orleans Saints, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Minnesota Vikings, Kansas City Chiefs, Los Angeles Chargers, New England Patriots
The Cowboys will have the rare and daunting challenge of facing both of the previous season's Super Bowl participants in 2021. Both Kansas City and Tampa Bay, who faced off in Super Bowl LV in February, are on the road schedule this year.
This season also figures to be the first career matchup between Patrick Mahomes and Dak Prescott. Mahomes was on Kansas City's roster during the last meeting between Kansas City and Dallas - a 28-17 Cowboys win in 2017. However, he was not yet the starting quarterback, as Alex Smith held the job during his rookie season.