Dallas Cowboys

NFL schedule-makers do the Cowboys no favors this season

The Cowboys beat the Redskins on Monday night, but they face a short week to get ready for the Packers on Sunday.
The Cowboys beat the Redskins on Monday night, but they face a short week to get ready for the Packers on Sunday. AP

For the second time in three weeks, the Cowboys have a short week to prepare for their opponent. They face another short week next week, with a Saturday game against the Jets.

“Who made this schedule?” a Cowboys rookie asked.

It’s one of the drawbacks of being America’s Team: Every network wants the Cowboys, a rating magnet.

But the NFL did the Cowboys no favors with this year’s schedule.

Dallas plays at Green Bay on Sunday after winning at Washington on Monday night. The league scheduled 65 true back-to-back road games with no bye in between, and the Saints the only NFL team without consecutive road games this season.

Of the 45 back-to-back road series already played, only 10 times did a team win both games. The Broncos accomplished it twice.

To stack the odds even higher for the Cowboys, they are one of only five teams playing a Sunday road game following a Monday night road game. Of the four such back-to-back games already played, only the Bears won both contests by beating the Chargers on a Monday night and the Rams the following Sunday.

But the Cowboys are the only NFL team that plays back-to-back road games on a short week against an opponent on an extended break, not counting bye weeks. The Packers haven’t played since a Dec. 3 victory over the Lions, giving them nine days to prepare for the Cowboys. Dallas arrived back home from Washington at 5 a.m. Tuesday.

“Yeah, it really doesn’t matter when we play, where we play, when they’ve played and where they’ve played,” Cowboys coach Jason Garrett said. “We’ve got a great opportunity going up there this weekend, so we’re going to take full advantage of that. We’ve had a good couple of days of practice leading up to it, and we’re excited about the opportunity to go to Lambeau.”

Garrett was asked whether he had noted how many times this season the Cowboys’ opponents have had extra time to prepare.

“Again, it’s probably a little bit like some other things in our game that are out of our control,” Garrett said. “I think a lot of people get focused on that stuff, and I found out a long, long time ago that you need to focus on yourself and control what you can do to be your best. I try to do that. Our staff tries to do that. And we try to instill that in our football team.”

The Cowboys faced two teams coming off bye weeks – the Patriots and the Eagles – and lost both. Dallas faces three opponents with extra time to prepare: It lost to Seattle, faces the Packers this week, and the Redskins get an extra day of preparation before the season finale in Arlington in Week 17.

“We try not to allow that to get in the way of just, ‘Hey here’s what’s going to happen, and we have to get ourselves ready,’” tight end Jason Witten said. “It’s always a challenge. You just try to embrace it and move forward, but it is a short week.”

The Cowboys did play two teams coming off short weeks and split those games. Dallas beat the Eagles in Week 2 and lost to the Giants in Week 7. They had extra time to get ready for the Redskins last week, and they will get an extra day to prepare for Buffalo after the Saturday night game against the Jets.

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