No Advantage to Dallas in Week After Thanksgiving

The Cowboys’ tradition of playing on Thanksgiving Day began in 1966. Including last week’s win over the Raiders, the Cowboys now have a 27-14-1 record on Thanksgiving.

For many years, though, it was not the team’s Thanksgiving performance that was the most impressive. Between 1968 and 1984, the Cowboys won 15 consecutive games during the week after Thanksgiving. The few extra days off seemed to help the Cowboys, who often blew out their opponents after a 10-day rest.

Since 1985, though, this advantage has all but vanished. The Cowboys went 0-5 during the week after Thanksgiving from 1985 to 1989. Dallas won five straight from 1990 to 1994, but since 1995, the Cowboys have only managed a 5-9 record in the game following the Thanksgiving Classic.

In sum: From 1966 to 1984, the Cowboys had a 16-1 record after Thanksgiving. Since then, Dallas has gone 10-14.

Next Sunday’s game against the Giants marks the third time in five seasons that the Cowboys have traveled to the Meadowlands after playing on Thanksgiving. Dallas lost at New York in 2005 but won on a last-second field goal in 2006.

Here’s a look at the Cowboys’ games during the weeks after Thanksgiving.

Date – W/L Score, Opponent

Dec. 4, 1966 – W 31-17, St. Louis

Dec. 3, 1967 – L 23-17, Baltimore

Dec. 8, 1968 – W 28-7, Pittsburgh

Dec. 7, 1969 – W 10-7, Pittsburgh

Dec. 6, 1970 – W 34-0, Washington

Dec. 4, 1971 – W 52-10, N.Y. Jets

Dec. 3, 1972 – W 27-6, St. Louis

Dec. 2, 1973 – W 22-10, Denver

Dec. 7, 1974 – W 41-17, Cleveland

Dec. 5, 1976 – W 26-7, Philadelphia

Dec. 3, 1978 – W 17-10, New England

Dec. 2, 1979 – W 28-7, N.Y. Giants

Dec. 7, 1980 – W 19-13, Oakland

Dec. 6, 1981 – W 37-13, Baltimore

Dec. 5, 1982 – W 24-10, Washington

Dec. 4, 1983 – W 35-10, Seattle

Dec. 2, 1984 – W 26-10, Philadelphia

Dec. 8, 1985 – L 50-24, Cincinnati

Dec. 7, 1986 – L 31-14, Seattle

Dec. 6, 1987 – L 21-10, Atlanta

Dec. 4, 1988 – L 24-21, Cleveland

Dec. 3, 1989 – L 35-31, L.A. Rams

Dec. 2, 1990 – W 17-13, New Orleans

Dec. 8, 1991 – W 23-14, New Orleans

Dec. 6, 1992 – W 31-27, Denver

Dec. 6, 1993 – W 23-17, Philadelphia

Dec. 4, 1994 – W 31-19, Philadelphia

Dec. 3, 1995 – L 24-17, Washington

Dec. 8, 1996 – W 10-6, Arizona

Dec. 8, 1997 – L 23-13, Carolina

Dec. 6, 1998 – L 20-17, Kansas City

Dec. 5, 1999 – L 13-6, New England

Dec. 3, 2000 – L 27-7, Tampa Bay

Dec. 2, 2001 – W 20-14, Washington

Dec. 8, 2002 – L 31-27, San Francisco

Dec. 7, 2003 – L 36-10, Philadelphia

Dec. 6, 2004 – W 43-39, Seattle

Dec. 4, 2005 – L 17-10, N.Y. Giants

Dec. 3, 2006 – W 23-20, N.Y. Giants

Nov. 29, 2007 – W 37-27, Green Bay

Dec. 7, 2008 – L 20-13, Pittsburgh

  • Thanx for the list.

    Wasn’t the 2007 game against the Packers also on a Thursday? Meaning there was only the standard seven days between games; it was the next game @ Detroit (which we barely won, 28-27) which followed a ten-day interval.

    There were only eight Thanksgiving Day games in the 70s for the Cowboys because the NFL awarded the game to the St. Louis Cardinals in 1975 and 1977. The Cards lost the ’75 game 32-14 to the Bills, but won the next game 31-17 against the Cowboys (both games were at home)! In 1977, the Cards lost to the Dolphins, 55-14 and on the road to the Giants in the next game, 27-7. So in their two Thanksgiving Day games, the Cards were 0-2 and in the following game, they were 1-1. Not much of an advantage.

    Saying the Cowboys have an advantage playing on Thursday and getting a ten-day rest overlooks the fact that the same would hold true for their opponents. I don’t have the time to look it up right now, but it would be interesting to see how the Cowboys opponents did in their next game following ten days of rest. If the composite record of our opponents also reflects an above-average winning %, then maybe a case could be made that the long interval gives teams an advantage. If not, then people need to quit whining about it.

    One thing the NFL could do to minimize any potential advantage is require both teams playing on a Thursday to travel for their next game after the ten-day interval. Of course, that would mean the Cowboys Thanksgiving Day opponent would have two road games in a row, which I’m sure would cause even more whining. Now that the NFL has had Thursday Night football for several years, it would be interesting to see how those teams have fared in their next game.

    But I’ll leave that as an “exercise for the reader”!

  • Jason Neighbors

    It seems like it has more to do with the quality of the Cowboy team, and their opponent, then anything else. The players all insist the break helps, so it probably gives a slight psychological advantage that helps out good Cowboy teams much more than the average ones.