What Stands In The Way Of Cowboys Meaningful Games In December?

Mike Fisher
July 02, 2018 - 8:05 am
Dallas Cowboys

Photo by Max Faulkner/Fort Worth Star-Telegram/TNS/Sipa USA

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FRISCO (105.3 THE FAN)  - One goal for most every NFL team: Play "meaningful games'' in December.

"Meaningful games'' equates to playoff contention in the final month of the year. There is still a carrot on a stick, a worthwhile goal. You are alive!

It's very difficult to do the "strength-of-schedule'' dance as we sit here in July, training camps not yet underway. Last year, the 2019 Cowboys' opponents totaled a .500 record. How significant is that in what I have so often called "a .500 league''?

Not very. Every team is "around'' .500. Every team's opponent strength-of-schedule is around .500. And predicting what a team will do in 2018 based on what it did in 2017 seems like fool's gold.

Nevertheless, there is a stretch of the Cowboys' upcoming schedule that looks especially dauntng ... and it bridges its way into December in ways that seem, right now, exceedingly meaningful.

Look at Dallas' Week 10 through Week 14; it's an Eagles Sandwich, with  the Falcons, Saints and division-rival Redskins in the middle, wrapped inside two Philly meetings.

On Nov. 11, Dallas plays a night game at Philly (the defending Super Bowl champs).

On Nov. 18, is a road trip back East to play at Atlanta (the contender that largely derailed Dallas' playoff hopes late last year.).

On Nov. 22, it's Thanksgiving at home against the Redskins (on a short rest).

On Nov. 29, it's a home game against the contending Saints (on just a week's rest).

On Dec. 9 - yes, the start of what is hoped to be "meaningful games in Decemver'' - it's the Eagles. Again. Matt Ryan, Alex Smith, Drew Brees and Carson Wentz - twice.

Now, we can parse this schedule into other trouble spots as well. In the first six weeks, for example, they face three challenging roadies (at the Panthers, Texans and Seahawks) and they host young AFC power Jacksonville.

Maybe only at the end of the year, when Dallas opposes the Colts, Bucs and Giants (all of whom might be good this year but certainly were not last year), the Cowboys have a series of games that look very "winnable'' on paper. But they've got to get their first.

And a bunching of the Eagles, Falcons, Saints and Eagles again would seem to be the greatest collected obstacle to "meaningful games in December.''