IRVING, Texas – The NFL’s release of the schedule has me back to wondering, so we break out an offseason version of Five Wonders, Cowboys’ schedule style.
I wonder if the Cowboys told the league they were a bit tired of starting the year on the road. In 2011 and ’12, the Cowboys played their first two games on the road. This year’s opener vs. the Giants marks only the third time in 11 years the Cowboys have opened at home. The last came in 2007 when they beat the Giants, 45-35, in Wade Phillips’ debut. Before that it was Bill Parcells’ debut in 2003 vs. Atlanta. At least recently the schedule has had to factor in the Cowboys’ Arlington neighbors, the Rangers. With Ron Washington’s crew out of town, the Cowboys open on Sunday Night Football against the Giants. And that’s not necessarily a good thing. They are 0-4 vs. New York at Cowboys Stadium.
I wonder if the Cowboys told the league they were a bit tired of ending the year on the road. This year’s finale vs. Philadelphia marks only the fourth time in 11 years they have closed the year at home. The Cowboys are 1-9 in their last 10 season-enders. The win? Against the Eagles in 2009. So that’s a good thing. Perhaps.
If you wondered when the last time the Cowboys had a bye this late in the year, I’ve got your back. You have to go back to 1990 when the Cowboys had a later bye week than the one they have this year. That came Dec. 9, 1990, which was Jimmy Johnson’s second season. This year’s bye comes Nov. 17, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing with the 10-day break coming after Thanksgiving. That time off will allow the Cowboys time to heal up if necessary. And health is as important as just about anything late in a season.
I wonder if other teams told the league that the Cowboys need to play on the road entering their Thanksgiving Day game. I’ve always felt it was unfair that most of the time recently the Cowboys were able to play at home before the Thursday game and other teams had to travel. This year, the Cowboys are at the Giants leading into the holiday game against Oakland. With a 3:25 p.m. kickoff at MetLife Stadium, the Cowboys are looking at an early-morning landing home. The short-week advantage is at least mitigated some with the road game.
I wonder if the Cowboys will ever lose their national appeal. They have four games in prime time: three on NBC (NY Giants, Washington, New Orleans) and a Monday Night Football matchup at Chicago. All for a team that has missed the playoffs in four of the last five seasons. And the Cowboys will not play on NFL Network for the second straight year and Jerry Jones is the chairman of the NFL Network Committee. Seems weird.