In 1960, the Dallas Cowboys joined the National Football League. Their fellow NFC East counterparts had already been in the league for several years, so naturally those teams had a head start in piling up their wins totals.
But how do these four teams compare since all of them have been in the league together?
Today, we examine the ebbs and flows of the success levels of each of the current NFC East teams to see how the Cowboys fared against them throughout their 60-year history. Looking through the data reveals some interesting pieces of information - some of which we already know, and others that may be novel to us.
We have to admit, things did not start off so well for the Cowboys. Tom Landry’s inaugural season didn’t produce a single win, and it didn’t get much better over the next several years as it took lucky number seven for Dallas to have it’s first winning season. So, right out of the gate, they dug themselves a hole.
But what happened after that was quite impressive as they reeled off 20-straight winning seasons that lasted all the way until the mid 1980’s. By 1971, the Cowboys had jumped every single one of their NFC East foes for the lead, and fittingly took home their first ever title that year with a win in Super Bowl VI. The Cowboys currently have bragging rights of being the team with the highest winning percentage of any team in the entire NFL, and they have that 20-year run to thank for it.
From that season on, the Cowboys never looked back as none of their divisional rivals could catch them. Here is a run through of how many wins the Cowboys had over the next closest opponent since 1971.
There have been several little hills and valleys over the years. Ten years after taking over the lead, the Cowboys reached a high-point in 1981 with 45 more wins than the next best team, the Washington Redskins. Dallas’ struggles towards the end of the Landry era and into the beginning of Jimmy Johnson’s tenure allowed the gap to be closed to just 11 games ten years later in 1991 with the Redskins right on their tail.
Fortunately, the ‘90s dynasty showed up in the nick of time and moved them back up to 41 games by 1998. The Cowboys then backslid as three straight 5-11 seasons under head coach Dave Campo dropped them to just 31 games ahead of the Redskins. This would be the closest any NFC East team has gotten to the Cowboys over the last 25 years.
The gap has continued to grow for nearly 20 years now, and it reached an all-time high of 64 games in 2016 after the Cowboys went 13-3 on the year. This time; however, the next closest team is the Philadelphia Eagles as they have had moved ahead of both the Redskins and New York Giants over the last few years. If you are curious to see how far the Cowboys are ahead of each divisional opponent, here is a breakdown since 1960.
You can see that since 1985, the Eagles had been in last place in wins for nearly 30 years but thanks to a nice run at the turn of the century, they are making up some ground. Similarly, the Redskins were rather successful up until around 1991 where they have gradually fallen more and more behind the Cowboys. Currently, they are only four games ahead of the Giants, and could drop into last place real soon.
And if bar chart races are your thing, we put together this nice little visualization for you.