The Cowboys attempt to become the first team in 13 years to defend their NFC East title.
An already difficult task will be taken to the next level by a brutal December.
The opponents Dallas face have been known for more than three months. Thursday night's release of the schedule by the NFL simply gives form to the upcoming season.
The most striking element is not how the Cowboys open the season -- facing the New York Giants for the fifth time in the last six years -- but how they end.
Three of the team's final four games are on the road. The three games the Cowboys play to kick off the final month of the regular season -- at the Giants, at Oakland and at home against Seattle -- are against teams that compiled a record of 33-14-1 last season.
That's a .687 winning percentage.
This is the most difficult stretch of the schedule, but it's not an aberration. The Cowboys play only five games against teams that posted a losing record in 2016. The winning percentage of the teams Dallas faces later this calendar year -- the records of the Giants, Washington and Philadelphia are counted only once -- is .565.