Soft Schedule Helps Explain Cowboys’ 13-Win Season
To most observers, the Dallas Cowboys and New England Patriots are in a class by themselves. I certainly don’t dispute that the Green Bay Packers’ Sunday opponent should be the top seed in the NFC entering the postseason. You can’t argue with their 13-3 regular season record, which really should be viewed as 14-2 since Dallas rested its starters in the final game.
Or can you?
Actually, I would argue that the 13-win season is inflated. Dallas played a soft schedule of teams.
The high point of the Cowboys’ season was when they went on the road and beat the formidable Pittsburgh Steelers, an 11-win team, by a 35-30 score.
The next best team that Dallas defeated was the 10-6 Packers, but that was when Aaron Rodgers wasn’t himself. That Green Bay team bears little resemblance to this Packers’ postseason group.
The competition drops off rapidly from there. The only nine-win teams that Dallas beat were Detroit and Tampa Bay, neither of which are powerhouses.
Six times the Cowboys’ opponents were middle-of-the-roaders: Washington and Philadelphia twice, along with Minnesota and Baltimore. The rest were scrubs: Cincinnati (6-9-1), Chicago (3-13), San Francisco (2-14), and Cleveland (1-15).
The cumulative win percentage of the Cowboys’ adversaries was .470 – 119 wins, 134 losses, and three ties.
I’m not arguing that Green Bay’s schedule was extremely tough, but you probably want to see that comparison anyway. Packers’ opponents accumulated a record of 129 wins, 125 losses and two ties – a .504 win percentage. Remember when the Packers’ schedule, based on 2015 win-loss records, was the NFL’s easiest? It didn’t turn out that way.
Here’s a final take: Dallas played five teams during the season that made the playoffs: the Giants (twice), and the Steelers, Lions, and Packers. The Boys went only three and two against this more talented group. Both losses came to the Giants, who the Packers just thrashed.