Fans of the Dallas Cowboys are hoping that we will see the team finally break through the 8-8 barrier this season. The 4-1 start is fanning the flames of that hope, but most of us are remaining a bit cautious and remembering that fetal chickens often wind up in omelets, not roaming the yard.
But if you do want something positive to contemplate as you are getting ready for the upcoming game against the Seattle Seahawks and their vaunted 12th man (12th man is a trademark owned by Texas A&M University and is used by the Seattle Seahawks under license - Gig 'em), here is a little food for thought.
Last season's 8-8 mark for the Cowboys included five wins against the rest of the NFC East. It was only the near total domination of the divisional rivals that had Dallas once again needing to win the final game of the season to make the playoffs. A little simple math will quickly show that the 5-1 record in the division went along with a pretty dismal 3-7 mark outside it.
Thanks to the backloaded divisional schedule that the NFL schedulers came up with this year, the Cowboys have not played anyone in the division yet. All four wins are against non-divisional rivals. Dallas has already guaranteed a better record outside the East than they had last year, with a very real chance to add several more wins to that total.
Because teams within divisions become so familiar with each other over the years, it is harder to gauge the strength of the respective members from the intradivisional matchups. But the record against the rest of the league is much more telling. Improving this is one more very concrete indication that this year's Dallas team is moving in the right direction.
As I have discussed previously, consistency is going to be a key for the Cowboys. While we are all pulling for a win against the Seahawks, it is more important to play well and keep the focus on how the team is playing game to game. I'm not trying to say that a loss is acceptable, but there are some losses you can move on from, and then there are bad losses that can disrupt a team's progress. The last time the Cowboys ventured into the Pacific Northwest, they had a very bad loss. That must not happen. The team needs to continue with what appears to be the latest Jason Garrett inspired mantra.
"It's about us" -- every person associated with the Dallas Cowboys in 2014.— David Helman (@HelmanDC) October 9, 2014
This is not a declaration of narcissism. It is a statement that the Cowboys are going to play the game their way, and not let the guys across the line of scrimmage dictate to them. Everyone is accepting responsibility for his preparation beforehand and play during the game. It ties in with the "Fight" T-shirts, the way everybody blocks on offense, and how the defense swarms to the ball.
With only five games played, the team has already managed one improvement from last year. And with this edition of the Cowboys, it is unlikely to be the last one.