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The Cowboys are undefeated this season when they receive the ball to start the second half

The Cowboys are choosing to defer when they win the coin toss and it’s a turning out to be a good decision.

Washington Redskins vs Dallas Cowboys - September 19, 2005 Photo by Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images

It’s fun to look for commonalities when a team wins football games as it helps instill a belief that if that keeps happening, more wins are coming. Sometimes these things play a big part in determining the outcome of a game. Sometimes they don’t. For the first seven games of the season, the result of the game lined up perfectly with whether or not the Cowboys were playing at home. If the game was at AT&T, the Cowboys emerged victorious. And if they were on the road, it did not end so well. But then, over the course of these last three games, the home/away correlation has completely flipped. The Cowboys lost their first home game of the year against the Tennessee Titans, but then turned around and won two straight games on the road. Whether you believed it to be a real factor or not before, it doesn’t appear to be one now.

While the location of where the game is played may not have as big of an influence as we once thought, another commonality has surfaced - the team receiving the second-half kick-off. In 2018, the Cowboys are undefeated whenever they get the ball to start the second half.

Well, if this was in fact a true correlation, then it seems like a no-brainer to always defer should they win the coin toss. But Jason Garrett doesn’t deal in absolutes. He takes it day-by-day and for most of those days it’s consisted of him choosing to take the ball to start the game. I’ve always been a fan of deferring, if for no other reason than it gives us fans something to look forward to in the second half. But Garrett doesn’t care how it makes us feel. He makes his decision and he has his reasons. For years, that reason has been the confidence in his offense and wanting to strike first. It’s hard to argue with that logic considering the Cowboys have been one of the stronger offensive teams during his tenure as coach.

But things are different now. The Cowboys defense is now doing the heavy lifting while the offense is just staying afloat. And Garrett recognizes that because he’s now changed his mind on wanting his offense to have the ball to start the game. The Cowboys have deferred in recent games where they had been choosing to receive at the beginning of the year. And it’s paying off.

Now, this could just be another one of those coincidences, but with so many games falling in line with this formula, it catches your attention. There are some other elements associated with this that could be the actual cause. For example, the Cowboys offense tries to wear defenses down as they keep grinding and grinding until the levee breaks. The drawback of this approach is that it takes a commitment to running the football and that doesn’t always translate to points. But things get better as the game goes on. The Cowboys can mitigate their slow start by capitalizing later. If they know things start to open up later in the game - why not try to steal an extra possession when the offense is more capable of doing something with the ball? Against the Atlanta Falcons, the Cowboys only scored three points in the first half. They scored 19 in the second. The offense had five possessions in the second half and they scored on four of them. And that extra possession sure came in handy as the Cowboys were able to use it to kick the game-winning field goal.

For years, it was the Cowboys trusted offense that was reliable. They set the tone for the game. But things are different now. It is the defense that can be trusted and they have been as consistent as they come. Not only have they allowed the fewest points in the NFC this season, but they always give the team a chance to win. The magic number for the Cowboys offense this season has been 17 points. Any game that they’ve scored more than 17 points on offense - they’ve won. A perfect 5-0. However, if they score 17 or less, they always lose. And that’s also happened five times.

With a defense that you can count on, it makes sense to put them out on the field first and start building that momentum. And if the offense gets better as the game goes on, then we definitely want those guys to have the ball when the second half starts.

We may not always like the decisions Garrett makes, but to his credit - he adapted on this one. And while it maybe something as trite as deferring the kickoff, this decision coincides with winning football games at the moment.

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