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Eatman: Forced To “Weather” Another Tough December
IRVING, Texas – When this football season begins, it will be in sunny California where the temperatures will be just short of amazing.
When this football season ends – at least the regular season – it will probably be right around the opposite of what they’ll get in Oxnard, Calif.
For the most part, that’s what we expect considering it’s typically cold everywhere in December. But for this 2014 schedule, the Cowboys can all but bet on it.
The Cowboys can just keep their coats, gloves, hand-warmers, stocking caps and any other cold-weather gear out all month long because it’ll be used quite often.
Now, I’m usually not one that has strong opinions about the schedule here in April. We’ve known all along the 16 games the Cowboys will play, just not the order. So I always think it’s funny when people say how tough the schedule looks on paper – now that it officially is on paper.
But with this 2014 schedule, a couple of things are pretty easy to predict.
The final four road games – at New York, at Chicago, at Philadelphia and at Washington – will all be tough. Division games are tough anyway and the Bears are physically tough, and they’ve got a lot of former Cowboys players and coaches, and they spanked them pretty good last year up there.
Another thing I know about New York, Chicago, Philadelphia and Washington in late November and December … yeah, pretty dang cold.
The Cowboys were able to withstand the elements and beat the Giants up there last year but they didn’t seem equipped to handle the Bears in single-digit temps a few weeks later.
Last year against the Redskins in Week 16, the game-time temperature was 65 degrees at kickoff. So there are definitely exceptions to the rule. However, something tells me that Week 17 game in D.C. this year won’t be played at 1 p.m. (EST) like the schedule says. The last three season finales have been flexed to the NBC night game, so it won’t take much for the Cowboys-Redskins rivalry game to get bumped to prime time again.
And if that happens, I’m all but positive the game will be more like the 2012 finale when it was 37 degrees and windy at kickoff with the NFC East title on the line.
Not only is there a good chance the last four road games will be factored by the weather, but the Nov. 9 game in London has a good chance to be rainy with poor field conditions.
It’s not like the Cowboys can’t win games like that – in the cold, in the rain, or in the cold rain.
But this has been an average football team for the last three years – actually for about 17 now, but let’s stick to the years that involve most of the personnel in place. To win games in December on the road, and especially in tough elements, you have to be much better than average.
That’s one reason why the Cowboys haven’t been able to get over the hump in the final month of the year. So if it happens this year, it certainly won’t be easy.
I would never say the NFL didn’t do the Cowboys any favors with this schedule, because who knows, these teams might be horrible in December and it’ll turn out to be rather easy.
But I know this – division games are always tough. And those cities typically provide less-than-ideal weather conditions in December.
From that standpoint, it doesn’t seem too favorable down the stretch.