There is nothing like a Sunday’s worth of NFL action with a Dallas Cowboys win already in the bank. Thankfully (no pun intended) we all got to experience that this past week after the Cowboys took down the New York Giants on Turkey Day. While a huge benefit to this sequence is our own personal level of enjoyment, the Cowboys have also been in a position to rest up more than usual thanks to playing the game on Thursday (although playing the game on Thursday is, in and of itself, an incredibly taxing thing).
Conventional wisdom suggests that teams coming off of Thursday games (aka the mini bye) are at an advantage from a rest perspective against the teams who they are playing the following week. This Sunday night the Cowboys will be hosting the Indianapolis Colts who are going to be coming off one of the least amounts of rest possible.
The Dallas Cowboys will have a large rest advantage over the Indianapolis Colts on Sunday night
As noted, the Cowboys are coming off of their Thanksgiving Day game which effectively gives them a week and a half of recovery before they kick off on Sunday night. When Dallas does begin play again it will be against the Colts who are one half of this Monday night’s game. This means that Indianapolis will be coming off the least amount of rest possible unless the game was being played on Sunday afternoon.
You would be hard pressed to find a Cowboys fan who is upset about this little advantage, but fair is fair and this certainly is not that for the Colts. Dallas is going to be coming off as much rest as they can possibly have without having the bye and even then played their Thursday game at home. Meanwhile the Colts are coming off of the least amount of rest possible (unless the game was played on Sunday during the day) by playing on Monday night. At least for their sake their game on Monday is at Lucas Oil Stadium, but they do have to travel to Arlington for Sunday night’s game.
It should be standard for the NFL to neutralize these sort of things when they make their schedule. Teams should come out of their bye and play others who are doing the same, that feels like a fairly simple solution to avoid one potential problem.
But inevitably this issue will occur. With games played on Thursday and Monday nights throughout the season, one team will inevitably be at some sort of advantage or disadvantage. The NFL cannot completely neutralize this but they can do their best by not having a Thursday team playing a Monday team let alone with the latter having to be the one to travel.
Incidentally, the Cowboys have benefited from this sort of thing a bit earlier in the season. Dallas caught the Los Angeles Rams when they were coming off of a road Monday night game, although their matchup against them took place at SoFi Stadium. Additionally, the Cowboys drew the Chicago Bears when they were coming off of a road Monday night game and that one was more egregious since Dallas hosted the Bears after being at home the week prior like with the Colts this week.
The Cowboys will have to experience a bit of a disadvantage themselves later in the season as they will play a road Thursday night game without having played on the Thursday before (usually Thanksgiving Day) for the first time ever. This will happen when Dallas visits the Tennessee Titans in Week 17. While that is technically a rest disadvantage, it is again worth mentioning that it is the first time that the Cowboys will have to play a Thursday night road game on short rest when it happens to NFL teams all of the time, and even then the game before for Dallas is on Christmas Eve which happens to fall on a Saturday this year, so it’s still not quite apples to apples.
Again, no Cowboys fan is going to complain about something that breaks in favor of their team. But if the shoe were on the other foot there would be a lot of people upset. The NFL should do their best to keep the playing field as level as possible in this particular area.