now browsing by tag
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.
The Cowboys first faced the Atlanta Falcons during Atlanta’s inaugural season in 1966. Dallas won in a 47-14 blowout.
Blowouts were the norm in the early part of this series, as Dallas won the first five games by a combined score of 145-38. The teams played three of these five games at Atlanta.
The last of the five games took place in 1974 during the opening week. The Cowboys had little trouble with the Falcons that day, taking a 17-0 halftime lead on the way to a 24-0 win.
Here is a video with highlights:
It was a nice way to open the season for Dallas, but the weeks that followed were less than great. Dallas lost four in a row and wound up finishing at 8-6. The team missed the playoffs for the first time since 1965.
The Cowboys lost to the Falcons for the first time in 1976, and the teams have been a bit more even in the series after the early domination by the Cowboys. Dallas holds a 16-8 edge in 22 games, including two playoff wins.