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Tuesday, April 20, 2010
Dallas Cowboys schedule analysis

By Dan Graziano
ESPN.com

Breakdown: The Cowboys have five primetime games and will play on the road against the Cardinals on Christmas night. They open against Donovan McNabb and the Redskins at FedEx on Sunday, Sept. 12, on NBC. That is one of the most attractive opening-week matchups I can remember.

The Cowboys only have back-to-back games on the road twice this season. We already knew the Cowboys were going to have one of the toughest schedules in the league, but a brutal finishing stretch makes it even tougher. The Thanksgiving Day game will feature the defending Super Bowl champion Saints coming to Cowboys Stadium.

The Cowboys finally played better in December in '09, but it will be even tougher this season. It's a stretch that begins with the AFC champion Colts and includes three division games. You'd be hard-pressed to find a tougher schedule in the league.

Complaint department: Well, as we've already said, the Cowboys will be on the road for Christmas Day. That game will be on the NFL Network. I'm sure every Cowboys player (and their families) groaned after seeing that game. The aforementioned December stretch would be the biggest complaint for the Cowboys, though. You travel to Indianapolis to begin things Dec. 5 and then you host back-to-back games against the Eagles and Redskins.

After the Christmas game, you close on the road in Philly. The NFL schedule czar must laugh every time he gets to this matchup. This is the third straight season, so it looks like we've established a tradition. It's unbelievable that the Cowboys won't see the Eagles until December. How tough is that assignment? We'll have to see how Kevin Kolb starts out to answer that question. I'm sure the Cowboys hate having a bye in Week 4. You'd rather have that about two or three weeks later.

Most-appealing matchup: I love the opener against the Redskins, but the Saints Thanksgiving game is the most appealing in my book. Sending the Raiders to Cowboys Stadium on Thanksgiving was an absolute joke. Both of these teams should be in the Super Bowl conversation in 2010. It will also be interesting to see how the Cowboys fare in back-to-back road games against the Packers and Giants in November. That's a pretty salty two-week stretch.

Cowboys Regular Season Schedule (All times Eastern)
Week 1: Sunday, Sep. 12, at Washington, 8:20 PM
Week 2: Sunday, Sep. 19, Chicago, 1:00 PM
Week 3: Sunday, Sep. 26, at Houston, 1:00 PM
Week 4: BYE
Week 5: Sunday, Oct. 10, Tennessee, 4:15 PM
Week 6: Sunday, Oct. 17, at Minnesota, 4:15 PM
Week 7: Monday, Oct. 25, NY Giants, 8:30 PM
Week 8: Sunday, Oct. 31, Jacksonville, 1:00 PM
Week 9: Sunday, Nov. 7, at Green Bay, 8:20 PM
Week 10: Sunday, Nov. 14, at NY Giants, 4:15 PM
Week 11: Sunday, Nov. 21, Detroit, 1:00 PM
Week 12: Thursday, Nov. 25, New Orleans, 4:15 PM
Week 13: Sunday, Dec. 5, at Indianapolis, 4:15 PM
Week 14: Sunday, Dec. 12, Philadelphia, 8:20 PM
Week 15: Sunday, Dec. 19, Washington, 1:00 PM
Week 16: Saturday, Dec. 25, at Arizona, 7:30 PM
Week 17: Sunday, Jan. 2, at Philadelphia, 1:00 PM