If the Cowboys Win the First Game of the Season… They won’t make the Playoffs
Jason Garrett became the full-time head coach for the Cowboys in 2011. In his first game as head coach, his Cowboys team lost to the New York Jets 24-27. That season they went on to not make the playoffs. That is the only time in the Garrett regime where these two events have occurred together. This is how things have transcribed after that lone season:
2012: Cowboys defeat Giants Wk 1 24-17… Proceed to Miss Playoffs
2013: Cowboys defeat Giants Wk 1 36-31… Proceed to Miss Playoffs
2014: Cowboys lose to 49ers Wk 1 28-17… Lose Divisional Round to Packers
2015: Cowboys defeat Giants Wk 1 27-26… Proceed to Miss Playoffs
2016: Cowboys lose to Giants Wk 1 20-19… Lose Divisional Round to Packers
2017: Cowboys defeat Giants Wk 1 19-3… Proceed to Miss Playoffs
2018: Cowboys lose to Panthers Wk 1 16-8… Lose Divisional Round to Rams
There is a lot that happens from week one to week seventeen, but the fact that this really random trend has stayed true for seven consecutive seasons is puzzling. This trend has had its chance to re-write itself for several seasons but it has yet to do so.
Will this trend carry over to this season?: Most likely
The Cowboys are playing the Giants week one. The Cowboys are overwhelming favorites to begin the season. This should come as no surprise given how the off-season has fared for both teams.
The Cowboys have had one of their best off-seasons this year signing value acquisition after value acquisition. They traded Robert Quinn for a late round pick; picked up Randall Cobb, Christian Covington, and George Iloka on relatively inexpensive deals; and drafted with the best player available approach a majority of the time.
The Giants have had a different off-season. They traded their best pass rusher and a top 5 receiver in the NFL to the Cleveland Browns for not enough in return. They then proceeded to reach on their first two first round picks with Daniel Jones and Dexter Lawrence. (Had Dave Gettleman had a different response as to why he drafted Daniel Jones, the general reaction to the pick may not have been as negative)
The Cowboys look to be contending once again while the Giants look like they are starting a rebuilding process.
So what about after week one? What could possibly cause the Cowboys to fumble away their chances at a Lombardi trophy? An obvious answer is injuries. The unpredictable nature of injuries in the NFL have caused teams poised for title contention to fall to oblivion. (The 2015 Cowboys in a nutshell)
Another answer is the schedule. The schedule seems to start relatively easy for the Cowboys with Giants, Redskins, and Dolphins, but it immediately picks up with the Saints, Packers, and Eagles in 3 of the 4 following weeks. (Say what you want about the Packers but they’ve made some solid moves this off-season)
After the bye week, they then must face: the Vikings, Patriots, Bears, Rams, Eagles, and Redskins. None of these teams are easy points in the win columns even if some of these teams are doomed for a regression.
As mentioned, a lot can happen from Week 1 to Week 17. It’s hard to predict how the Cowboys will fare from week to week, and it makes it harder considering the strength of schedule. It may be a good time to revisit what happened in 2017 if the Cowboys win week 1…