It would seem that an opening-game win for an NFL team would be significant.
For the Dallas Cowboys, a fan could point to a huge 45-35 win over the New York Giants in 2007 as a catalyst for a 13-3 season.
Conversely, a fan could look at the team’s disappointing loss to the Redskins to open the 2010 season as a major factor in the team’s 6-10 record.
A opening-game win, though, is hardly a predictor. For instance, the 2003 Cowboys opened with a loss to the Falcons, but the Cowboys wound making the playoffs with a 10-6 mark.
One year later, the Cowboys opened with a loss to the Vikings, but the Cowboys reversed their record from a year before by going 6-10.
In 2011, the Cowboys lost a frustrating game in New York, falling to the Jets in a 27-24 loss. The team finished at 8-8.
In 2012, the Cowboys won on the same field, beating the Giants, 24-17. The team finished 8-8.
So how much does the opening-game win mean? Consider this:
The Cowboys won five of their last ten opening games dating back to 2003 (not including the recent win over the Giants).
In the five seasons when the Cowboys have gone 0-1, the team has had a combined record of 39-41 with two playoff appearances.
By comparison, when the team has gone 1-0, the Cowboys have a combined record of 50-30 with two playoff appearances.
Incidentally, the last time the Cowboys went 2-0 was 2008, when the team finished poorly and wound up missing the playoffs with a 9-7 record.