The Dallas Cowboys have a chance to make history this year. Yes, of course they can win the Super Bowl and go down in history as the champions of the 2020 season; but there is another chance for glory the Cowboys could grab this season: The Bird Gauntlet. The Bird Gauntlet is exactly what it sounds like: the Cowboys will play every single team with a bird mascot this season.
Dallas plays the Philadelphia Eagles twice every year, which takes care of one of the five teams with a bird mascot. Across the NFL, there are four more such teams: the Atlanta Falcons, Arizona Cardinals, Baltimore Ravens, and Seattle Seahawks. As luck would have it, those four teams also appear on the 2020 season schedule for the Cowboys.
The NFL has a rotating schedule in which each team is guaranteed to play the other 31 teams at least once in a four-year period. Due to this rotating schedule, the NFC East will be playing the NFC West (Cardinals and Seahawks), along with the AFC North (Ravens) in the 2020 season. Last year, the Cowboys finished second in the NFC East and the Falcons finished second in the NFC South. Because of this, the two teams will square off in the regular season. The New York Giants and Washington Redskins also have a chance to complete The Bird Gauntlet if they meet the Falcons in the playoffs. Due to the Eagles being a bird mascot team, they will never have the opportunity to complete The Bird Gauntlet.
Out of the six bird games the Dallas Cowboys will play in this year, three of them will be on primetime television. Here’s a look at the dates for Dallas’ Bird Gauntlet:
September 20: vs. Atlanta Falcons (AT&T Stadium)
September 27: @ Seattle Seahawks (CenturyLink Field)
October 19: vs. Arizona Cardinals (AT&T Stadium) (Monday Night Football)
November 1: @ Philadelphia Eagles (Lincoln Financial Field) (Sunday Night Football)
December 3: @ Baltimore Ravens (M&T Bank Stadium) (Thursday Night Football)
December 27: vs. Philadelphia Eagles (AT&T Stadium)
This is quite a daunting Bird Gauntlet, even without throwing another preseason game against the Ravens in. The Cowboys will not have to beat the Ravens in the preseason in order to officially complete the Bird Gauntlet, but it would not bode well for the Cowboys to drop that game at home.
The main issue with this Bird Gauntlet is that Dallas is forced to play in six games instead of five. To make matters worse, that sixth game is against a bitter divisional rival – a team familiar with Dallas’s roster. Sweeping Philadelphia in the regular season will probably be the most difficult aspect of this Bird Gauntlet.
Other than the Eagles, the two teams that should scare Dallas are Seattle and Baltimore. Seattle is never out of a game thanks to their superstar quarterback Russell Wilson, and Baltimore has one of the most difficult offenses to stop in the league. Dallas should be prepared for two extremely tough games when these birds show themselves.
The other two games will not be walks in the park either. While Arizona and Atlanta will probably not be playoff-bound this year, they have offensive firepower that can heat up in a moment’s notice. Both teams acquired new offensive weapons this year; Arizona traded for DeAndre Hopkins, possibly the best receiver in the NFL, while Atlanta went out and got Todd Gurley, who is a problem for defenses when healthy.
Looking at this Bird Gauntlet, it is hard to see Dallas coming out undefeated. The bird teams this year look quite strong, and two games against a divisional rival will be hard to overcome. If I had to make a prediction for how Dallas will finish the Bird Gauntlet, it would be 4-2, with one loss coming from Philly and the other from Lamar Jackson and company.
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