2006 Slate Anything But Kind

If the Cowboys are going to make a playoff run in 2006 -- and owner Jerry Jones is seemingly doing everything possible to make that happen -- they will have to earn their postseason spot on the field.

The NFL schedule-makers certainly did them no favors in 2006.

Six of their first nine games are on the road, including Terrell Owens' much anticipated return to Philadelphia on Oct. 8.

That is one of at least six nationally televised games for the Cowboys, highlighted by a Thanksgiving Day game against the Buccaneers and a Christmas Day affair against the Eagles.

The early road schedule concludes with three straight road games, against Carolina, Washington and Arizona. The Cowboys haven't played three consecutive games on the road since 1991 and 1992.

Clearly Owens' return to Philadelphia tops the schedule. Quarterback Donovan McNabb and Eagles fans will offer him anything but brotherly love.

Other highlights include likely Hall of Fame quarterback Peyton Manning's first appearance at Texas Stadium with the Colts. It's a crucial game for the Cowboys because it comes on the heels of three straight road games. It also precedes the Thanksgiving Day game against the Buccaneers.

Only two of the team's final seven games are away from Texas Stadium -- at the Giants on Dec. 3 and at Atlanta on Dec. 16. The Falcons game will be Dallas' first matchup against quarterback Michael Vick since his rookie year in 2001.

The Cowboys will close the season with two straight home games -- Philadelphia on Christmas Day and the season finale against the Lions. It's the first time since 1998 that the Cowboys have closed the season with consecutive home games. The matchup against the Eagles marks the first time in franchise history that the Cowboys will play a regular-season home game on Christmas Day.

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