There's a clear disadvantage when one team is entering an NFL matchup with more time to prepare than the other but the Cowboys, who are on the short end of it this week, don't care.
FRISCO, TX — Life isn't fair, and neither is the NFL, so you can either choose to yell complaints into the earless void or you can suck it up and find a way to overcome adversity. Time and again throughout the 2022 season, the Dallas Cowboys have chosen to do the latter and, as they get ready to face the San Francisco 49ers in the NFC Divisional Round, they'll rinse and repeat.
The latest hurdle for the Cowboys to leap (well, one of them) is playoff scheduling. Having been tasked with facing Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Monday night, their victory in that wild card matchup thrust them to the second round of the playoffs but with a short week to prepare.
"I think it's gonna serve us well," said head coach Mike McCarthy, jokingly. "We'll have less sleep and we'll be grumpy."
But, all jokes aside, it truly is fair to call it a competitive disadvantage for Dallas, though that's not what the team itself is viewing it as. To put it plainly, it's nothing they haven't seen before.
They've played in five combined primetime games (Mondays + Sundays), two Thursdays (including Thanksgiving), had a three-game-in-12-days stretch in November, and a three-games-in-11-days stretch in late December that included suiting up on Christmas Eve (literally meaning they played two games in the same calendar week leading into that holiday weekend).
They're currently 2-0 when playing a game with only five days to reload, and McCarthy is 5-1 in his last six outings that have featured a short week following Monday Night Football.
They'll have that exact number of days to prepare for the 49ers (5), one of which being a travel day to Santa Clara, while Kyle Shanahan and his group will get two additional days by virtue of having defeated the Seattle Seahawks in a Saturday afternoon bout — along with having home field advantage.
"The benefit for us, really, is if you look at our regular season schedule," McCarthy said. "I don't know if there's a [variation] of the schedule that we didn't work on. We've had an eight-day week, a six-day week, a seven-day week. We've played [on] Thursday Night Football, Sunday Night Football, Monday Night Football, Saturday afternoon football; so I think all of those experiences [will help]."
So if you're holding your breath for McCarthy to yell into the void about something he can't control, you'll die of asphyxiation.
"It's the schedule. TV is king. What do you want me to say?" said McCarthy. "This is part of the challenge. It's not a concern. We've got plenty of time to get ready."
The locker room in Dallas views it the same way, as four-time Pro Bowl receiver T.Y. Hilton pointed out on Wednesday — sounding eerily similar to his head coach, something that's quite telling of exactly what the message from the coaching staff has consistently been on this topic.
"It's the schedule, so what do you want me to do?" asked Hilton. "Just [have to] go out there and be as ready as possible. We're gonna give it everything we've got. When the time comes, we'll be ready."