There are a lot of intricacies to the game of football. It’s why the game is so fun, to be honest. So many things happen in a given football game that if one of them goes wrong then the results can be entirely different. We often agonize over the tiniest thing because it can frequently play the biggest role.
Recently, the NFL released every team’s 2020 schedule and with it comes a whole new set of things to discuss and dissect. There are points in a schedule that appear to be easier, some seem to be more difficult, all in all there are pros and cons to anything.
Most people tend to feel this way but some seem to be an exception. While the league strives for as much parity as possible, a select group seems to think that the Dallas Cowboys are being given an unfair advantage.
Eagles fans think they have been wronged where the Cowboys have been right’d
You might remember that a year ago the Eagles organization (and subsequently the fine folks over at Bleeding Green Nation) complained about the fact that the Cowboys get to play at home on Thanksgiving every year. It was a silly proposal that the team actually ended up withdrawing.
This year, Eagles fans are at it again. Thanks to a study from Warren Sharp that was done on flaws in the NFL’s scheduling from an advantage/disadvantage standpoint, they believe that the Eagles are being handed a disadvantage where the Cowboys are being handed an advantage.
Sharp highlights various aspects of advantages that are given to different teams, and as you can imagine, they center around playing at home on Thursday games or having more rest than your opponent, like when they’re coming off of Monday night football or your team is coming off of having a bye. Those things are obvious.
The Cowboys obviously play a Thursday game on Thanksgiving Day every year and generally play on the Thursday night the week after as well (that’s what they’re doing this season). Many people tend to point out that the Cowboys have to play three games in 12 days here, but the reality is that every team plays three games in 12 days when they go Sunday to Sunday to Thursday.
Now, to be fair to the point here, most teams that play on Thursday nights get the “mini bye” immediately following it where the Cowboys (and their opponent) have to play a game seven days later. Whatever advantage exists from playing on Thanksgiving obviously comes with a different detail of difficulty as the league wants to have Dallas in as many primetime slots as they can put them in.
The Eagles actually had a huge advantage over the Cowboys in 2018... and lost
We all know that the subject of rest and how much a team has entering a given game is a big deal in the NFL which is why we always pay so much attention to who the Cowboys are playing during the week after their bye (this year it is the Minnesota Vikings). It’s well-documented how good some teams, like Andy Reid’s, are after their bye.
It honestly doesn’t make any sense that any NFL team would come off of their bye and play a team that wasn’t doing so as well, but nevertheless that does happen every year. Warren Sharp even touched on this very idea in his analysis.
More or less rest than your opponent: similar to the above, but factors a team’s own rest in as well and then computes which team has more time to prepare.
Example: the opponent is off a bye and the team in question played on Monday night. The team had a short week whereas the opponent had two weeks to rest and prep.
Real impact: over the last decade, one team has played 37 games with less rest than its opponents, while another team has played just 18 games with less rest than his opponents. There is a team with a net of +15 games with more rest and another with a net of -12 games, a swing of 27 games between the two teams.
Eagles fans are quick to chirp that they are at a huge disadvantage compared to the Cowboys, but think back to the first matchup between the two teams back in 2018. This was the first game of significance between the two teams that took place in Philadelphia in the Dak Prescott and Carson Wentz era; the 2016 and 2017 contests were in Week 17 when each of the two teams had a first-round bye secured.
Dallas traveled to Philadelphia after playing on Monday night the week before. To be clear, here the Cowboys had a shorter week than all but one other team. The Cowboys lost to the Tennessee Titans on that Monday night, and interestingly enough both Dallas and Tennessee entered that game each coming off of their bye.
So the Cowboys went to Philadelphia on a short week, but what about the Eagles? They entered a game where they got to host the Cowboys coming off of their bye week. Philadelphia literally had as long of a rest period as you possibly could where the Cowboys had the shortest one that you possibly could.
Dallas won 27-20.