The Dallas Cowboys were final team in Super Wildcard Weekend to qualify for this next round of the NFL playoffs.
Because of seeding and format, the Cowboys find themselves with one fewer day for prep time as they gear up for a matchup with the San Francisco 49ers.
But do they care? Not so much.
Dallas takes on San Francisco Sunday at 6:30 p.m. Meanwhile, the 49ers were the first NFL team to reach the divisional round after they blew out Seattle in the fourth quarter last Saturday at Levi Stadium.
Cowboys coach Mike McCarthy didn’t seem bothered that his guys had one fewer day than the 49ers. It’s the cost of doing business in the NFL, especially when you’re one of the most popular teams in the league.
“TV is king. What are you gonna say?” McCarthy said once he returned to Dallas from Tampa. “This is part of the challenge. It’s not a concern. We got plenty of time to get ready. We’re not stressed about it at all.”
Mike McCarthy Says Players Should Be ‘Grumpy’ in Practice This Week
Here’s why the stress levels are a smidge lower for the Cowboys. Dallas finally ended one bad playoff streak when they rolled the Bucs, 31-14. It was the first time the Cowboys won a playoff game on the road since 1993.
And now, here’s why TV took such delight in a Cowboys-Bucs matchup, scheduling it for the Monday Night Football window instead as one of the weekend games,
The Cowboys-Bucs drew an average of 30.6 million viewers on ABC and ESPN. It represented the most watched NFL game telecast by the ESPN cluster of networks since Super Bowl 40 in 2006. More TV information will be released Wednesday. And look for this game to be the most-watched non-Super Bowl contest broadcast within the ESPN umbrella since 1996. (For what it’s worth, that game was Cowboys-Cardinals in 1999).
Mike McCarthy quipped (we think) that his Cowboys will have a hidden advantage during practice this week.
“I think it’s going to serve us well,” he said. “We’ll have less sleep, and we’ll be grumpy.” It seems grumpy players practice better.
Of course, Cowboys owner Jerry Jones appreciates the TV attention. He’s a billionare businessman, after all. Dallas-San Fran has a late afternoon kickoff on Fox, meaning a chunk of the game will bleed into primetime. The largest audiences for football usually come on Sunday nights.
Does the lack of a day in practice bother Jones? “Not at all. Not at all,” he told reporters in post-game Monday night. “That’s what we were dealt. We got to play in front of the nation. We got an extra day to get ready for (Tampa). 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.”