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IRVING It's a futile feat to try in April, but most can't help but scroll down the newly-released Cowboys schedule and try to forecast how many wins Jason Garrett's bunch will pile up.

I'll reserve my record prediction until closer to the end of training camp, but this much is certain: the NFL schedule makers have given the Cowboys every opportunity to maximize their win total. The schedule lays out quite well.

The first thing that jumps out is they start and finish at home, the first time that's happened in 15 years. They host the Giants in the opener the first time since the opening of Cowboys Stadium that the Cowboys have opened at home.

Dallas has four primetime affairs. They'll play three Sunday night games and one on Monday Night Football.

And for a team that's played for a division title in the last game of the last two seasons, knowing the season finale' against the Eagles is at home is a plus.

Another thing that jumps out is the bye week, in week 11.

For the past few years, the bye week has been early. It was week four last season, and it just seems too early in the year.

This bye week also breaks up two back-to-back set of road games.So, in essence, the Cowboys having just one real back-to-back set of road games is another plus. Contrast that with the Saints, who have three different sets of back-to-back road games.

As for trouble spots, look at the stretch of games starting with week six when Peyton Manning and the Broncos visit Cowboys Stadium. That's followed by Robert Griffin III and the Redskins. Then, after that, the Cowboys have a month-and-a-half stretch with only one home game.

There are road trips against the Eagles, Lions, Saints and Giants. The good news in that stretch is there's the bye and the mini-bye after the Cowboys' annual Thanksgiving day game - this season against the Raiders.

With this group of Cowboys, December seemingly always brings issues. And with a night game in Chicago that figures to be cold and windy, Tony Romo will be put to the test by a defense that forced him into five turnovers last season.

That'll be followed up with a visit from the offensive-minded Packers. Aaron Rodgers and company return to the site where they won Super Bowl XLV. December then closes with a couple of division games against the Redskins and Eagles.

No NFL schedule is without its pitfalls, it's the nature of the league. The Cowboys play four playoff teams from last season.

But on the whole, this schedule has plenty of positive points.

Their opponents' win percentage of .480 makes their ledger the eighth easiest in the league.

Although I immediately caution you to put any stock in that: The NFL becomes more unpredictable by the minute.

So happy predicting. It's all there in front of you, just like it is for the Cowboys.

Email jtrahan@wfaa.com

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