I can almost hear Stan Walters screaming. The former Eagles tackle always believed the NFL stacked the deck in favor of the Dallas Cowboys and against the Eagles and if he saw the 2012 schedule he would say, See, I told you.
Look at the Thanksgiving turnaround (see schedule breakdown). The Cowboys play their traditional Turkey Day home game against Washington then have nine days off before the Eagles come to town for a prime-time game Sunday, Dec. 2.
The Eagles, by contrast, play Carolina in a Monday night game at the Linc on Nov. 26 and then have to get ready for the Cowboys on a very short week.
The Cowboys have nine days to prepare, the Eagles have five. Four, actually, since they have to travel on Saturday. The Cowboys get to stay at home the whole time while the Eagles have to fly to Dallas.
Big Stan, bless his heart, would be calling for an investigation.
Blame Tex Schramm, the late Cowboys president. He raised his hand at a league meeting years ago when Commissioner Pete Rozelle asked what team would be willing to host the second game of the Thanksgiving doubleheader. (The league had one game established in Detroit and wanted to add another for the national TV audience.)
Schramm saw it as a great showcase for his franchise so he jumped at the chance. The Cowboys have been playing on Thanksgiving Day for so long now, they know how to plan and how to practice. They have it down to a science.
They play the game then they get that extra time off to rest and regroup. For years, the Cowboys' winning percentage in December was among the best in the league and that was one of the reasons.
This season, the Eagles will catch the Cowboys coming off that holiday break and Andy Reids team will be coming off (a) a night game and (b) a short week. Thats not an easy task.
There is another difficult aspect to the Eagles' 2012 schedule: They play four teams that are coming off bye weeks, three of them in a row. Pittsburgh (Oct. 7), Detroit (Oct. 14) and Atlanta (Oct. 28) all have the week off prior to playing the Eagles. Washington also is coming off a bye when it hosts the Eagles on Nov. 18. Those teams will be well-rested and ready to go.
You can call the Atlanta game a wash because the Eagles also are coming off their bye week and Reid does not lose coming off the bye, but still thats a tough stretch. At least three teams that figure to be playoff contenders -- we are excluding Washington out of force of habit -- and they all have an extra week to prepare for the Eagles.
On the plus side, the Eagles obviously still have star power in the eyes of the networks despite the 8-8 finish last season. They have five prime-time games. No team has more. Two of those games are against division opponents and the Eagles have won their last six prime-time games against teams from the NFC East.
The Eagles could catch a few teams looking ahead. Baltimore, the Eagles' opponent in the home opener (Sept. 16), plays New England the following week so they might have Tom Brady on their mind. Pittsburgh has a short week before playing Tennessee on Thursday. Detroit has a Monday night date in Chicago immediately after visiting the Linc.
Of course, this could all mean nothing.
When the schedule came out this time last year, who thought the Eagles would lose at home to San Francisco and Arizona? And Week 5 in Buffalo -- no snow, mild breeze looked like an easy win. How did that work out?
This is the NFL, crazy things happen.
But the game in Dallas? I want to hear what Stan Walters has to say about that.
Have a question for Ray Didinger? E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.