Cowboys 'Line 1': Repeat In NFC East
Coming off their first division title and winning season since 2009, Dallas Cowboys fans finally feel like they have something to look forward to next season. Things can only go up from here right?
Not so fast.
While the Cowboys have certainly seemed to have taken a big step in the right direction, it's not a given that they will continue on their current path. The last time an NFC East team won the division crown in two consecutive seasons was when the Philadelphia Eagles did it in 2003 and 2004 - that's a decade ago. Just take a look at the NFC East Champs of the last four years:
2011 - New York Giants
2012 - Washington Redskins
2013 - Philadelphia Eagles
2014 - Dallas Cowboys
What about the last time the Cowboys won the NFC East in two consecutive seasons? 1995 and 1996, when Travis Frederick was only 5 years old. To make matters worse, the Cowboys followed up their last two division titles with a 9-7 season in 2008 and a 6-10 season in 2010.
"But if the Cowboys don't win a division, they should still be in contention for a Wild Card spot, right?" Well, the last time an NFC East team secured a Wild Card spot was when the Eagles did in 2009 (five seasons ago). The last time the Cowboys secured a Wild Card spot was in 2006. The NFC has several competitive teams that are continuing to improve, so winning a Wild Card slot will continue to be an extremely difficult task. Judging by recent history, the Cowboys will have to win the division if they want to make the playoffs again in 2015 - which, as I already pointed out, isn't going to be a walk in the park, either.
This is, by the way, how the NFL likes it. Winning teams get later draft picks and first-place teams get schedules dotted with other first-place teams. This is parity, and why we so often refer to the NFL as "a .500 league.''
Now that I'm done being a Debbie Downer, let's take a closer look and see if we can find some positives.
Prior to 2014, the Cowboys had won 21 division titles. Out of those 21 titles, the Cowboys returned to the playoffs the following season 16 times (76 percent of the time) and repeated as division champs 12 times (57 percent of the time).
Of the 16 playoff appearances following a division title the previous year, the Cowboys have won at least one playoff game 12 times and have a 24-11 playoff record in those seasons (a winning percentage of 68.5). The Cowboys have also reached the Super Bowl/NFL Championship Game seven times after winning the division the previous year, while winning four Super Bowls.
Still want more? The Cowboys finished the regular season with a 12-4 record in 2014. They have reached 12-plus wins 11 previous times in franchise history. Of those 11 seasons, the Cowboys returned to the playoffs nine times (82 percent of the time) and repeated as division champions the following year eight times (73 percent of the time). They have also NEVER had a losing season (or even a .500 season) following a 12-win year and have an average winning percentage of nearly 70 percent.
I'm not saying that it's going to be easy for the Cowboys to repeat as division champs in 2015. In fact, quite the contrary. The Eagles still have a ton of dangerous weapons that can score at any time. The Giants, who get hot every few years, have the 2014 Offensive Rookie of the Year in Odell Beckham Jr. and will be getting the explosive Victor Cruz back. The Redskins games are never easy. Throw in the fact that the Cowboys also play the Packers, Seahawks and Patriots, and the schedule starts to look pretty daunting. Some fans may start smelling another step back in 2015, similar to what we saw in 2008 and 2010.
Me? So many Cowboys players told me so often going into last year that "this year would be different.'' Then they made it come true. I firmly believe that this team is indeed different than those division winners in 2007 and 2009. I think the players are more talented overall and tougher both physically and mentally. I believe this coaching staff is better equipped than sweet ol' Wade to teach this team how to handle success and build on it.
This edition of the Cowboys (once it gets its key pieces assembled and re-assembled) is different - it will have to continue to be if they want to defend their division crown next season.
CowboysHQ.com's "Offseason Manifesto'' continues with Part 2: "Cap Hell and Restructuring'' ... The Cowboys' "Super Schedule in 2015 - the Four Levels of Difficulty'' is here ... Keep up with all the latest Cowboys news and Super Bowl talk from fans just like you on CowboysHQ.com Boards!
Fish makes an important point about Super Bowl Weekend here, noting that Tony Romo's runner-up status in the MVP voting is a very positive thing, something worth celebrating. Fish goes through the Cowboys' winners and near-winners of the weekend, which include ...
A come-out-of-hiding Dez Bryant, his "disinterested groin'' seemingly healed.
CowboysHQ Top Stories
Dez Bryant's MRI + Jerry's Cowboys Q&AOn Dez Bryant's MRI + Jerry Jones' Cowboys Q&A, thanks to the team owner's notable, confusing Tuesday visit with 105.3 The Fan ...
Cowboys Rooks Shine Behind Battered O-LineCowboys Rookies Shine Behind Battered O-Line; Surgery Possible For La'el Collins
CowboysHQYesterday at 4:58 PM
Cowboys Ex Greg Hardy Arrested On Drug ChargeFish Kept Calling It The 'Uptown Flu' ... And Now Some Added Insight, Maybe As Cowboys Ex Greg Hardy Is Arrested On Drug Charges
CowboysHQYesterday at 4:34 PM
Cowboys Top Bears: The 'Rise of the Bease'Five different Cowboys QBs can't be wrong, right? Not when they all put their trust in Cole Beasley, now the Cowboys' No. 2 wide receiver.
CowboysHQYesterday at 6:22 AM