Tuesday, April 19, 2011
A deeper look at the Cowboys schedule
By Calvin Watkins
OK, based on the season not being delayed because of the labor dispute, we've basically all seen the Cowboys' schedule.
Let's take a closer look:
Road games: The Cowboys open the season with road games against the New York Jets and San Francisco 49ers. The last time Dallas opened with its first two games on the road was 1997, and it split those games. Dallas won the season opener at Pittsburgh and lost the following week in overtime at Arizona. By the way, that was coach Barry Switzer's last season and the Cowboys finished at 6-10. ... There is nothing good that comes with playing in New England. However, the Cowboys will be coming off a bye and chances of bad weather are minimized with the game on Oct. 16. The Cowboys are 4-1 coming off byes the last five seasons. ... Two of the last three games are on the road and don't seem to be easy games. Dallas is at Tampa Bay on Dec. 17, a prime-time game on NFL Network, and finishes the season on New Year's Day at the New York Giants.
Home games: The Cowboys open the home schedule against Washington on Sept. 26 on ESPN. The first two home games could set the tone for the Cowboys. Washington most likely will have a new quarterback, but the Cowboys will need to win this game because the next week the improving Detroit Lions come to Cowboys Stadium. Highland Park's Matthew Stafford hasn't played an NFL game in Cowboys Stadium, so he'll be a little excited about the game. Dallas needs to win these two home games before going into the bye week. ... A two-game homestand, vs. Seattle and Buffalo should give the Cowboys a lift going into a road game at Washington on Nov. 20.
Division games:NFL commissioner Roger Goodell wanted the latter part of the schedules to mean something and that's why he's asked the schedule makers to put an emphasis on division games in November and December. The Cowboys play four division games the last two months of the season and take on the Giants twice in the last four weeks. Dallas plays three division games the last four weeks. ... The Cowboys went 3-3 in the division last year, pretty good considering how the overall season went. It would have been better if not for that season-opening loss at Washington. ... The Cowboys' first division game comes in their home opener against Washington on ESPN on Sept. 26. The Cowboys have a .582 winning percentage all-time within the division.
Jason Garrett games:Jason Garrett makes his non-interim debut Sept. 11 at the New York Jets. Previous Cowboys coaches who won their season debuts were Wade Phillips, Chan Gailey and Barry Switzer. Bill Parcells, Dave Campo, Jimmy Johnson and Tom Landry all lost their first games. ... Garrett faces first-year coach Jim Harbaugh in Week 2 at San Francisco. The Cowboys have won their last two meetings against the 49ers. ... Garrett's biggest test will come late in the season. He's got three division games the last four weeks and five NFC games to close the season. If the Cowboys are in the playoff hunt, seedings will be on the line.