The Cowboys’ schedule doesn’t have the mostly home-road-home-road pattern of last season, or the home opener and closer.
And it’s backloaded with road games.
But there are small advantages in it.
For one, the Cowboys don’t face any team coming off its bye. No team will get the extra week to prepare for new defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli or play-caller Scott Linehan.
Also, the Cowboys don’t have to travel to a home opener in a rabid environment like last year, when they went to Kansas City and got ambushed. This year, the Cowboys are the home opener for Tennessee.
The Cowboys and 49ers will be on equal footing, schedule-wise, when they open the season at AT&T Stadium. But when the Cowboys host the Saints in a Sunday night game in Week 4, it will be the third road game in four weeks for the Saints. The Saints will have opened with two on the road, at Atlanta and Cleveland, before their home opener.
The next week, the Texans will be in the same kind of stretch. They will come to AT&T Stadium for a third road game in four weeks, having gone to the West Coast for a game against Oakland then the East Coast to play the Giants before coming back for a home game.
And it happens one more time. Two weeks later, the Giants will also be on their third road game in four weeks when they come to Arlington. For the Giants, that road stretch is entirely against the NFC East – at Washington in Week 4, at Philadelphia in Week 6 and at the Cowboys in Week 7.
In Week 6, the Cowboys have to face the Super Bowl champs. But they’ll face a Seahawks team coming off a road Monday night game – a cross-country Monday night game, at that. The Seahawks will have played at Washington, so they’ll start their short week after a late East Coast finish.
In some ways, the schedule sets up. It may all mean nothing, or those small advantages could add up for an edge on a play here and there.
Whatever it means, the Cowboys will take anything they can get by the time they get to December and have to finish with their own stretch of three roadies in four weeks.
-- Carlos Mendez