Simulations: Chiefs by a Field Goal?

When the NFL schedule came out, most viewed the week 2 matchup between the Cowboys and Chiefs as an easier win for Dallas.

Predictions about the winner of Sunday's game are pretty evenly split.

Predictions about the winner of Sunday’s game are pretty evenly split.

Not now.

After the Chiefs handled the Jacksonville Jaguars in week 1, many view the Kansas City defense as something approaching elite status. The Chiefs enter the game as three-point favorites at home.

Predictions from two sites have Kansas City winning by about three:

Team Rankings

Kansas City 24, Dallas 21

numberFire

Kansas City 23, Dallas 21

 

On the other hand, WhatIfSports thinks that the game will be the game of the week. The Cowboys won 63% of the matchups. The average score:

Dallas 29, Kansas City 24.

One of the more detailed NFL preview sources on YouTube—Football Gameplan—also predicts a Dallas win:

* * *

The Cowboys are trying to improve to 2-0 for the first time since 2008. However, that particular record hardly guarantees anything.

Six teams started the 2012 season with 2-0 records, including the NFC champion San Francisco 49ers (finished 11-4-1), the Atlanta Falcons (finished 13-3), and the Houston Texans (finished 12-4).

The other three? The San Diego Chargers (finished 7-9), the Arizona Cardinals (finished 5-11), and the Philadelphia Eagles (finished 4-12).

And how did those 2008 Cowboys do? They finished at 9-7 and missed the playoffs.

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Dallas Cowboys Friday Photo Trivia: Name This Player

The Dallas Cowboys participated in their first NFL draft in 1961. The team’s first pick turned out to be a legend, as the Cowboys selected defensive tackle Bob Lilly.

The second-round pick was born in Schulenburg, Texas and played at Texas Tech. The Cowboys took this player in the second round of the draft, but he chose to play for the Dallas Texans, who took him in the first round of the AFL draft. He enjoyed a ten-year career with the Texans and the Kansas City Chiefs, including some years playing center.

Who is this player? Complete the puzzle below, and you will see a picture of him as well as the answer.

 




provided by flash-gear.com


Recent 1-0 starts by the Dallas Cowboys

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.

A win during Kickoff Weekend is usually good for the Cowboys.

A win during Kickoff Weekend is usually good for the Cowboys.

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.

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What-If Wednesday: What if Miles Austin failed to break out in 2009?

I am trying a new feature during mid-week. It’s called What-If Wednesday. We will review some event (draft, game, or whatever) and consider what might have happened if history had been different. This week’s post focuses on receiver Miles Austin.

What if Miles Austin never had his breakout performance against the Chiefs in 2009?

What if Miles Austin never had his breakout performance against the Chiefs in 2009?

In real life…

Between 2006 and week 4 of the 2009 season, Austin had a total of 23 receptions for 435 yards and 4 TDs. His biggest play as a professional was a kickoff return for a touchdown in the 2006 playoffs when the Cowboys faced the Seahawks (better known for Tony Romo’s fumble while holding a field-goal attempt).

Although Austin showed some big-play potential, he was never a major weapon. He caught a 42-yard touchdown pass in the season-opener in 2009 but failed to catch a pass two weeks later against the Carolina Panthers.

He got more opportunities to see the field when the 2-2 Cowboys visited the 0-4 Chiefs in week 5 of the 2009 season because of an injury to Roy Williams. The game was nearly a disaster for Dallas, as the Chiefs took a 13-3 lead in the second half. However, Austin caught touchdown passes of 59 and 60 yards in the fourth quarter and in overtime, giving the Cowboys a 26-20 win.

After the bye week in 2009, the Cowboys faced the Falcons, Seahawks, and Eagles. In real life, Austin scored four combined touchdowns in those three games, including the game-winner against the Eagles, and those three wins improved the team’s record to 6-2. The Cowboys wound up with an 11-5 record and won the NFC East. The team beat the Eagles in the playoffs for the Cowboys’ first playoff win since 1996.

What if Austin had not had a breakout game against the Chiefs?

At the time the Chiefs had taken a 13-3 lead, Austin had caught four passes for 71 yards. Until that point, he had never caught more than three passes in a single game. Without his performance in the fourth quarter and in overtime against the Chiefs, the Cowboys would have had to mount a comeback with Patrick Crayton and Sam Hurd. It’s fair to say that the Cowboys likely would have lost and dropped to 2-3.

1. Jerry Jones fires Wade Phillips in 2009 and appoints Jason Garrett as interim head coach.

The bye was the next week after the Chiefs game, and the chances that Jerry Jones would have fired Wade Phillips immediately were substantial. Nobody had forgotten that the Cowboys had missed the playoffs in 2008, and calls for Phillips’ head were loud and clear.

Of course, Jason Garrett was still considered a solid candidate to become a head coach, so what ended up happening in 2010 likely would have happened in 2009.

2. The Cowboys miss the 2009 playoffs.

Without Austin, the Cowboys likely lose one or more of the three games against the Falcons, Seahawks, and Eagles. The Cowboys lost three of their next five after beating the Eagles in the actual season, so the chances that Dallas would finish at 11-5 would have dropped precipitously. And as it turns out, any record below 11-5 in the NFC in 2009 would have eliminated the Cowboys from the playoffs.

3. The Cowboys still take Dez Bryant in the 2010 Draft.

The Cowboys would have had a greater need at receiver in 2010 without Austin as a clear-cut starter. Even with a higher pick, though, the Cowboys would not have had great options in the 2010 draft. The team might have taken Demaryius Thomas (taken at #22 by the Broncos), but there is a better chance the Cowboys still would have taken Dez Bryant.

4. The Cowboys retain Patrick Crayton in 2010.

The Cowboys would had few options if they wanted to pursue a receiver in free agency in 2010. Three of the free agents were former Cowboys in Terrell Owens, Antonio Bryant, and Joey Galloway, and none of them were coming back. The other free-agent names—Derrick Mason, Nate Burleson, Kevin Walter, Arnez Battle, Marty Booker, Chris Chambers, Muhsin Muhammad— were no better.

With Austin as nothing more than a fourth or fifth receiver, the Cowboys would have Roy Williams and Dez Bryant as the starters. Patrick Crayton would be far less expendable, so the chances that the Cowboys would have kept him would have been much greater.

5. Without Austin, the Cowboys would have an even longer playoff drought.

Although injuries slowed Austin in 2011 and 2012, he was a major factor in the team turning the 2009 season around and winning the franchise’s first playoff game since 1996. Without Austin, the Cowboys would have likely missed the playoffs in 2009 and would probably have had the same success (that is, lack of success) since 2010.

In other words, without Austin’s breakout performance, this team could be suffering through a five-year playoff drought, and the gap between playoff wins could be 16 years.

6. Jason Garrett would not still be the coach in 2013.

If the Cowboys’ last playoff game were indeed the 2007 loss to the Giants in the NFC divisional playoffs, it is very difficult to believe that Jason Garrett would survive as head coach between 2009 and 2013. In fact, if the Cowboys had the same fortunes in 2010 without Austin as they had with him, Jones probably would have fired Garrett then and started over.

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Cowboys vs. Giants: Instant Trivia

cowboys.question.markA few trivial items about the Dallas Cowboys’ 36-31 win over the New York Giants, along with tidbits about the series:

  • The Cowboys now lead the overall series 59-42-1.
  • The Giants’  four-game winning streak at Cowboys Stadium was the longest for New York at Dallas. The Giants had won three straight at Texas Stadium between 1988 and 1990.
  • This was the first time the Cowboys had ever played in a game with a final score of 36-31.
  • The game marked the seventh time in the series where the Cowboys scored 36 or more points. The most points scored by the Cowboys against the Giants was 52 in 1966.
  • The Cowboys trailed in every game in 2012. The Cowboys did not trail at all on Sunday night.
  • The Cowboys recorded 6 or more turnovers in 23 previous games.
  • The Giants have turned the ball over six or more times against the Cowboys in 4 previous games.
  • The most turnovers committed by the Giants against the Cowboys was 7 in 1961. Hall of Famer Y.A. Tittle threw four interceptions on October 15, 1961, but the Giants still won 31-10 at the Cotton Bowl.
  • Sunday night’s game marked the 7th time where the Cowboys have given up 400 or more passing yards.
  • The Giants have thrown for 400 or more yards against the Cowboys three times: twice by Eli Manning (2011 and 2013) and once by Phil Simms (1985).
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Dallas 36, N.Y. Giants 31: Cowboys Rediscover Turnovers

During the first quarter of last year’s 24-17 win by the Cowboys over the New York Giants in the season opener, the Dallas Cowboys forced running back David Wilson to fumble the ball. The Cowboys’ offense turned around and did next to nothing.

Jason Witten caught two touchdown passes in a 36-31 win by Dallas over the New York Giants.

Jason Witten caught two touchdown passes in a 36-31 win by Dallas over the New York Giants.

That was a key pattern of 2012. For the season, the Cowboys only forced 16 turnovers and only managed 52 points off turnovers to rank 27th in the league.

During the first half of tonight’s game, the Cowboys managed to force three turnovers. Points off those turnovers?

Three.

Then came the second half. On the Giants’ first offensive drive of the second half, Wilson fumbled, and Barry Church returned a fumble recovery 27 yards for a touchdown.

Later in the quarter, the Giants’ Trumaine McBride touched the ball on a punt return, resulting in a muff. DeVonte Holloman recovered the ball, and the Cowboys managed to score another touchdown later in the drive.

Finally, with the Giants trailing 30-24 with two minutes remaining, Eli Manning tried to throw a screen pass to running back Da’Rel Scott, but Scott did not turn around in time. Brandon Carr picked off the pass after the ball bounced off Scott’s shoulder, and Carr returned the pick 49 yards for the Cowboys’ final score.

Three turnovers and 21 points off those turnovers (6 turnovers for 24 points for the game). Quite a difference from 2012.

The team’s 36-31 win certainly wasn’t perfect. The Cowboys took a 13-point lead with 12 minutes remaining, but no lead in the former Cowboys Stadium is safe when the Giants are in town.

A short summary of the Giants’ wins at Dallas since 2009:

2009: The Giants trailed 31-30 but drove the length of the field in the final seconds for the game-winning field goal.

2010: The Cowboys saw a 20-7 first-half lead dissolve into a 38-20 deficit in what turned out to be a 41-35 Dallas loss.

2011: The Cowboys took a 34-22 lead in the fourth quarter, but the Giants managed to score twice in just over three minutes to pull out a 37-34 win for New York.

Dallas should have been able to put this game away much earlier, but the secondary could not avoid major breakdowns. Hakeem Nicks had a 57-yard reception in the first quarter, and Victor Cruz had a 70-yard touchdown in the second quarter to keep the game close.

The Cowboys led 13-10 at the half thanks to two field goals and a touchdown pass from Tony Romo to Jason Witten.

Following Church’s touchdown in the third quarter, the Cowboys extended the lead when Romo hit Witten again on a four-yard touchdown. The second score gave Dallas a 27-10 lead.

Dallas once again could not stop Cruz, who ended up scoring three touchdowns. His last touchdown came after the Cowboys had kicked a field goal and cut the Dallas lead to 30-24.

For part of the final nine minutes, it felt as if the Cowboys would let the win slip through their fingers. However, the Cowboys held the Giants to a three-and-out with just over five minutes left, and then Carr’s interception sealed the win for Dallas.

Below is my Facebook thought near the end of the game. Please note that I backed off my “solid defense” reference in the comments:

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Simulations: Cowboys Will Edge Giants in Season Opener

The Cowboys host the Giants on Sunday night to open the 2013 season.

The Cowboys host the Giants on Sunday night to open the 2013 season.

The Cowboys never beat the New York Giants at Cowboys Stadium. Nevertheless, in the first regular season game at the renamed AT&T Stadium, the Cowboys enter as 3.5-point favorites.

Results of most of the polls show that fans are split about who will win. As for predictions through simulations, most predict the Cowboys will edge the Giants for the first win in Dallas since the season-opener in 2007.

A few of the previews:

Team Rankings

Dallas 25.3, N.Y. Giants 22.4

numberFire

Dallas 24.7, N.Y. Giants 23.9

WhatIfSports

Dallas 26, N.Y. Giants 25

Here is video preview provided by Football Gameplan. It’s worth watching (and predicts a Dallas win):

 

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Dallas Cowboys: Rookie Jersey Numbers

It turns out that the entire 2013 draft class made the 53-man roster for the Cowboys (pending trades, which are not expected).

Not sure if any of these rookies will become the greatest players to wear these numbers, but there is always a chance. Here’s a look.

New #20: B.W. Webb

Greatest #20: Mel Renfro

Webb will not have a starting position without injuries and will have to prove himself on special teams this year. Renfro was a Pro Bowl player as a rookie and remained a Pro Bowl player for the next decade.

New #27: J.J. Wilcox

Greatest #27: Ron Fellows

Wilcox may see some time at safety, which is not a deep position. However, he has a chance to develop into a starter. Fellows spent time as a returner for three seasons before finally earning a starting role in 1984.

New #35: Joseph Randle

Greatest #35: Calvin Hill

Randle will probably see quite a bit of action in 2013, given the injury history of DeMarco Murray. Hill was an All-Pro as a rookie in 1969 and eventually became the Cowboys’ first 1,000-yard rusher.

New #38: Jeff Heath

Greatest #38: Sam Baker

Heath made the squad as an undrafted free agent. He will likely be limited to special teams play. Few notable players have worn #38, evidenced by the selection kicker/punter Sam Baker as the greatest player to wear the number. Roy Williams also wore it in his final (and forgettable) season in Dallas in 2008.

New #57: DeVonte Holloman

Greatest #57: Kevin Burnett

Holloman is a former college safety who made the transition to linebacker. He can become the greatest #57 by outperforming Kevin Burnett, who played only four seasons in Dallas as a backup.

New #70: Travis Frederick

Greatest #70: Rayfield Wright

Frederick will start at center this year and looks like a solid player. He’ll need to accomplish quite a bit to become the greatest #70, though, given that Wright is a Hall-of-Famer.

New #83: Terrance Williams

Greatest #83: Terry Glenn

Williams will see the field as the third receiver this year, and he has quite a bit of potential. He’ll need to perform consistently to outperform Glenn, who gave the Cowboys back-to-back 1,000-yard seasons in 2005 and 2006.

New #89: Gavin Escobar

Greatest #89: Billy Joe Dupree

Escobar is one of four tight ends the Cowboys kept, so he will have limited opportunities to shine in 2013. DuPree did not put up big numbers by modern standards, but he was a force during his time.

Which rookie has the best chance to be the greatest player to wear his jersey number?

View Results

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Houston 24, Dallas 6: 8 Punts, 7 Sacks, and (Finally) the End of Preseason

If Alex Tanney never plays for the Cowboys again, this is what he'll probably remember from Thursday night's game against the Texans.

If Alex Tanney never plays for the Cowboys again, this is what he’ll probably remember from Thursday night’s game against the Texans.

Just my opinion, but watching tonight’s game was worse than watching the Pro Bowl. It was far worse than watching the Hall of Fame Game.

Alex Tanney threw 31 passes but spent much of the game picking himself off the AT&T Stadium carpet. The Texans sacked him 7 times and otherwise harassed him all night.

The leading receiver was Tim Benford (4 rec., 60 yards). J.J. Wilcox had seven tackles on defense.

Other highlights?

No, there weren’t. Goodbye to another preseason.

The Cowboys make their last cuts on Saturday and will start to get ready for their opening game against the New York Giants on September 8.

 

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Dallas 24, Cincinnati 18: Dez Shows Beast Mode

Until the very end of the first quarter of Saturday night’s game between the Dallas Cowboys and Cincinnati Bengals, Dez Bryant had one reception for one yard. He was also the intended receiver on a play where the Bengals were called for pass interference.

Bad seats at the Cowboys' fourth preseason game against the Bengals on Saturday.

Bad seats at the Cowboys’ fourth preseason game against the Bengals on Saturday.

Then came a 12-yard reception on a 2nd-and-9 play, giving Dallas a first down in Cincinnati territory.

Same drive: Romo to Bryant for 15 to the Cincinnati 26,.

Same drive (very next play): Romo to Bryant for 15 to the Cincinnati 11.

Same drive (very next play): Romo to Bryant for 5 yards to the Cincinnati 6.

Same drive (two plays later): Romo to Bryant on a 5-yard touchdown pass.

Bryant finished with 6 receptions for 54 yards, with five of those receptions coming on a total of seven plays. The Bengals did not appear to have any answers.

Tony Romo threw another touchdown to Miles Austin late in the first half to give the Cowboys a 14-7 halftime lead. Romo completed 13 of 18 passes for 137 yards with 2 TDs.

DeMarco Murray fumbled early in the game, and though he recovered his own fumble, Phillip Tanner had most of the carries for the rest of the first half.

Murray returned in the second half with backup QB Kyle Orton, the backup receivers, and the first-team line. He picked up 51 rushing yards and had a nice touchdown reception, juking several Bengal defenders after catching a pass in the flat on a 3rd-and-goal play from the Cincinnati 7.

The Bengals cut the Dallas lead to 21-18 in the fourth quarter, but the Cowboys put together a late drive to kill most of the clock. Xavier Brewer picked off a Josh Johnson pass with less than a minute remaining, giving Dallas its second interception and fourth turnover.

The Cowboys finish their preseason against the Houston Texans on Thursday night.

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