Before Monday night’s game between the Cowboys and Buccaneers, random bellyaching emerged regarding the fact that the winner would face the 49ers on a short week — with the 49ers having a full week and a day to recover and prepare.
After Monday night’s victory, Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said he has no issues with flying back to Dallas and then, this weekend, flying to California for a Sunday game against the well-rested and untraveled 49ers, who beat the Seahawks on Saturday.
Asked whether the schedule is “unfair” to the Cowboys, Jones told reporters, “Not at all. Not at all. That’s what we were dealt. We got to play in front of the nation. We got an extra day to get ready for tonight. Good thing. The result, we’ll go play on a short week. We’ve done that Thanksgiving Day, played short weeks. . . . I don’t see that being a disadvantage.”
Jones has no choice but to say that, because he realizes that the current three-day wild-card schedule makes more money for everyone, including him. Put simply, it’s impossible to ensure that everyone will have equal rest and recovery when games are played on Saturday, Sunday, and Monday.
The best solution? Become a higher seed. Win your division, and avoid traveling in the wild-card round. Earn the No. 1 seed, and bypass the wild-card round altogether.
Of course, being the higher seed may not matter. Last year, the Rams played on Monday night and flew to Tampa for a Sunday showdown. The Bucs, who had played on Sunday and didn’t have to travel, lost the game. Likewise, the 49ers played on the Sunday of the wild-card round and then faced the Packers on Saturday, after the Packers had a week off. Green Bay lost the game.
Unless all playoff games will be played on the same day at the same time, these issues will emerge. Teams can either whine about it being unfair, or they can buckle down, embrace the opportunity, and move forward.