FanPost

Progress

Jason Garrett began his tenure as the eighth head coach in Dallas Cowboys history following a stint as the interim coach in 2010. Last season the Cowboys faced few successful opponents.

Opposition record

2011

2012

Wins

121

124

Losses

135

116

Average winning ratio

.473

.517

Considering that Dallas will finish no worse than 8-8 this season against opponents with more wins, some progress can be noted. Last season, however, the Cowboys were among the worst 8-8 teams in the NFL. Consider how Dallas fared against other 8-8 teams in 2011.

2011 8-8 teams faced

Result

New York Jets

Loss

Philadelphia Eagles

Loss

Arizona Cardinals

Loss

Philadelphia Eagles

Loss

Dallas did not win a single game against teams that finished 8-8 in 2011. Chicago, Denver, San Diego, and Oakland also finished 8-8 last season, but the Cowboys did not play them. All of those teams played against teams with significantly more wins than Dallas.

Other 2011 8-8 teams

Opponent winning ratio

Chicago Bears

.527

Denver Broncos

.520

San Diego Chargers

.516

Oakland Raiders

.504

Denver won a playoff game in overtime against the Steelers with Tim Tebow at quarterback. Chicago started 7-3 before injuries derailed their season. San Diego and Oakland lost the tie-breakers to Denver for the AFC West division crown.

The Cowboys finished 8-8 in 2011, but the team's final record was strongly influenced by the quality of the opponents on the schedule. Comparing the 2011 and 2012 schedules in more depth yields interesting results.

Opposing team record

2011

2012

Record within -1 to 1 wins

1-6

3-3*

Record at least -2 wins

6-0

5-0`

Record at least +2 wins

1-2

0-3^

Total

8-8

8-6

* Projecting Chicago, New Orleans, Cincinnati and Pittsburgh all remain within one win or loss of Dallas: the first game versus Washington is not included.

` Projecting Carolina and Tampa Bay remain at least two games behind Dallas

^ Projecting Seattle and Baltimore remain at least two wins better than Dallas

For the second consecutive season, the Cowboys have not lost a game against an opponent that finished with a record featuring at least two more losses than Dallas. In other words, the Dallas Cowboys under Jason Garrett have not lost a game to a significantly inferior opponent to date.

In 2011, the Cowboys upset the San Francisco 49ers (13-3) and defeated the Seattle Seahawks (7-9). Otherwise, every team with no worse than a 7-9 record beat the Cowboys last season.

In contrast, this season the Cowboys have defeated three teams with at least seven wins, with one more game to play against a nine win team. Dallas appears to be competing on a level more representative of their record to date: 8-7.

Record of 7+ win opponents

2011

2012

Wins

93

90

Losses

67

60

Winning ratio

.581

.600

The Cowboys have faced teams with at least seven wins that have experienced more success this season when compared to 2011. Not only has Dallas managed to win more often this season, but the Cowboys have stayed more competitive in those games.

Points versus 7+ win teams

2011

2012

Opponents

259

272

Cowboys

195

224

Difference

-64

-48

In ten games against 7+ win teams in 2011, the defense permitted 13 fewer points than the 2012 Dallas defense. The offense has been more explosive against more successful teams, however, as the Cowboys have scored 29 more points this season compared to last season.

Dallas will have an eleventh game against an opponent with at least seven wins this season on the final Sunday night of the regular season. The game in Washington may appear to resemble the showdown for the NFC East last season in New York, but the 2012 edition of the Dallas Cowboys competing in the nation's capital has earned the eight wins achieved this season against quality opponents.

The 2012 Dallas Cowboys are a much better team than the 2011 edition despite the injury riddled defense. The Cowboys have demonstrated significant progress from the group that donned the star in 2011.

Now it is time for the 2012 Dallas Cowboys to progress to the playoffs.

Another user-created commentary provided by a BTB reader.

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