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Schedule May Be the Cowboys' Best Friend

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    NEWSLETTERS

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    We're running out of reasons to keep hope alive for the Cowboys. 

    The offense comes up with new ways to disappoint on a weekly basis, the defense couldn't get off the field in Atlanta last weekend and injuries have erased players altogether or limited their contributions. You could plug all the players and schemes into a formula designed to give you a reason to think that there's still hope for the rest of the season, but it takes a heaping helping of ignorance to really get behind such notions. 

    If you really want something to keep you from turning your attention to other pursuits on the next eight Sundays, don't look at the Cowboys. Look instead at the teams that the Cowboys are playing the rest of the way. 

    After a first half filled with teams like the Giants, Ravens, Falcons and Bears, the Cowboys face a far less imposing schedule the rest of the way. There's just one game left against a team that currently owns a winning record -- Week 15 against the Steelers -- and seven games against teams that have had problems equal or greater to the ones experienced by the Cowboys. 

    That starts this weekend with the first of two games against the Eagles, who face a weekly firing line of questions about benching their quarterback or firing their coach. They've lost three of their five starting offensive linemen because of injuries, fired their defensive coordinator and generally play games in such an absurd fashion that you question if they're even trying to win. 

    There's also a pair of games against the Redskins, who Mike Shanahan said were in "evaluation" mode for the rest of the season before quickly trying to walk it back when he realized it wasn't the wisest message to send about the team's desire to win games. The Saints, Bengals and Browns round out the schedule and all of them should be winnable games for even this Cowboys team. 

    Of course, there's a flip side to this way of approaching the season. In Philly, Washington, Cincinnati and elsewhere, people are looking at the schedule and pinching themselves that they've got a date with the Cowboys coming down the pike. It doesn't take more than a win or two to change that around, however, and the Cowboys have their chance to get them in the coming weeks.