Rangers part of the reason Cowboys aren’t opening season in Seattle

Ever wonder how the NFL schedule is made? With the help of SI.com’s Peter King, football fans got a fantastic glimpse into this year’s schedule making process.

King recently spent some time at NFL headquarters in New York with the four men who use 40 computers to go through a half-million schedule possibilities. And to no one’s surprise, some of the Dallas Cowboys’ 16-game slate was mentioned in the process.

Why didn’t the Cowboys open the season against the defending Super Bowl champion Seattle Seahawks? It seems like that would make for wonderful TV ratings.

"I guess we could’ve played Dallas, but we really liked Dallas for the FOX doubleheader for Week 1," NFL senior vice president of broadcasting Howard Katz told The MMQB writer. "Dallas also had Texas Rangers conflicts the first month of the season. Putting them on the road in Week 1 might have doomed them for four or five road games in the first few weeks."

The Cowboys open the season by playing San Francisco at AT&T Stadium on Sept. 7.

Next question: why are only NFC teams playing on Thanksgiving Day?

"We decided to make a statement on Thanksgiving," Katz said. "It sounds corny, but it’s our most traditional national holiday. Let’s play great traditional rivalries game on Thanksgiving."

The Cowboys host Philadelphia on Thanksgiving Day. Dallas then plays another Thursday game the following week, at Chicago.

What was the thought process behind that?

"We have a rule that says each team can only play one short-week Thursday game," Katz said. "It’s about player health and safety. Week one doesn’t count. So if you take three games on Thanksgiving, we can play 13 other Thursdays. That’s 16 Thursday games; with 32 teams, everyone plays one. In this new package, we had to figure out how to create one more. So we took two of the six teams playing on Thanksgiving and playing them against each other the following Thursday. They’re playing on full rest, and then 10 days after that."

The Cowboys finish the season with four of their final six contests coming against NFC East opponents, closing the season at Washington on Dec. 28.

Why so many division games late in the year?

"A heavy dose of division games late in the season usually leads to great things," Katz said.

Dallas has entered Week 17 the last three years with the division crown on the line, it’s difficult to argue with Katz’s logic.