News: DMN: Analyzing the Cowboys' schedule: Dallas is in for a brutal December

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  1. NewsBot

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    The Cowboys attempt to become the first team in 13 years to defend their NFC East title.
    An already difficult task will be taken to the next level by a brutal December.

    The opponents Dallas face have been known for more than three months. Thursday night's release of the schedule by the NFL simply gives form to the upcoming season.

    The most striking element is not how the Cowboys open the season -- facing the New York Giants for the fifth time in the last six years -- but how they end.

    Three of the team's final four games are on the road. The three games the Cowboys play to kick off the final month of the regular season -- at the Giants, at Oakland and at home against Seattle -- are against teams that compiled a record of 33-14-1 last season.

    That's a .687 winning percentage.

    This is the most difficult stretch of the schedule, but it's not an aberration. The Cowboys play only five games against teams that posted a losing record in 2016. The winning percentage of the teams Dallas faces later this calendar year -- the records of the Giants, Washington and Philadelphia are counted only once -- is .565.

    For the sake of comparison, that percentage was .465 entering last season when the Cowboys were coming off a last-place finish in the NFC East.

    More observations on the upcoming schedule:

    -- The Cowboys will have at least six national TV appearances with five of those in prime time.

    -- Another sign of the franchise's return to competitive prominence is that only two games are scheduled to start at noon. One of those, the finale at Philadelphia, will likely be flexed to a later time if a playoff berth is at stake.

    -- So, you can't wait to hear former Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo call a Dallas game in his new role at CBS? The two games the network will broadcast are both at AT&T Stadium -- Nov. 5 vs. Kansas City and the Thanksgiving Day game on Nov. 23 against the Los Angeles Chargers.

    -- Speaking of November, the Cowboys play five games that month and four of them are at home. The team ends the month with a three-game homestand, it's longest of the season.

    -- The Cowboys open the season at home for the fifth consecutive year. That's the longest stretch in club history since the first seven years of the franchise's (1960-66) existence.

    -- Deja Opening: the Cowboys host the Giants for the third consecutive year to get the season underway. It marks the fifth time in the last six years these two teams have met in the first game.

    The last two openers at AT&T Stadium against the Giants have garnered high ratings and been decided by a total of two points.

    -- After the opener the Cowboys play five of their next eight games on road. Home games in that stretch are against the Los Angeles Rams, Green Bay and the Chiefs.

    -- The Cowboys have a rematch against a Packers team that knocked them out of the playoffs on Oct. 8. It marks only the second time in the last 10 years that the teams have played in Texas.

    -- Two of the team's eight road trips will be to Northern California. The Cowboys play San Francisco on Oct. 22 and Oakland on Dec. 17.

    -- One of the factors owner Jerry Jones looks at every year is how many outdoor games the team plays in the final weeks of the regular season. The weather in Oakland in mid-December isn't traditionally harsh. But road games against the Giants (Dec. 10) and the Eagles (Dec. 31) could be problematic.

    -- Many focus on how Cowboys vs. Giants has become a trend to open the season. But this marks the sixth time since the '08 season that the Cowboys will end the season against the Eagles. Dallas will finish the season on the road against a division opponent for the sixth time in the last eight seasons.

    One more look at Cowboys' schedule


    Date Opponent Time TV
    Sept. 10 Giants 7:30 NBC
    Sept. 17 at Broncos 3:25 FOX
    Sept. 25 (Monday) at Cardinals 7:30 ESPN
    Oct. 1 Rams 12 FOX
    Oct. 8 Packers 3:25 FOX
    Oct. 15 BYE BYE BYE
    Oct. 22 at 49ers 3:05 FOX
    Oct. 29 at Redskins 3:25 FOX
    Nov. 5 Chiefs 3:25 CBS
    Nov. 12 at Falcons 3:25 FOX
    Nov. 19 Eagles 7:30 NBC
    Nov. 23 (Thursday) Chargers 3:30 CBS
    Nov. 30 (Thursday) Redskins 7:25 NBC
    Dec. 10 at Giants 3:25 FOX
    Dec. 17 at Raiders 7:30 NBC
    Dec. 24 Seahawks 3:25 FOX
    Dec. 31 at Eagles 12 FOX

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