After the win over the Patriots, the Cowboys are heading into the bye week with a 5-1 record. They’ll take a few days off and then start preparing for the Week 8 game in Minnesota.
That game will either see them improve to 6-1 or drop to 5-2. Since realignment in 2002, 94% of the teams with a 6-1 record would have made the new 14-team playoff format. For 5-2 teams, that percentage is sill a solid 80%, as the table below shows.
|Playoff chances based on seven games, 2002-2020|
|Record after seven games||7-0||6-1||5-2||4-3||3-4||2-5||1-6||0-7|
You might feel that these numbers are too generic and don’t apply to the specific situation of the Cowboys, and that may be true. So here’s a look at the 10 seasons in which the Cowboys started either 6-1 or 5-2:
|Cowboys midseason record and resulting final record since 1990|
|6-1 record after 7 games||5-2 record after 7 games|
|Year||Final Record||Playoff Result||Year||Final Record||Playoff Result|
|2016||13-3||Lost Div||2009||11-5||Lost Div|
|2014||12-4||Lost Div||2003||10-6||Lost WC|
|2007||13-3||Lost Div||1993||12-4||Won SB|
|1995||12-4||Won SB||1991||11-5||Lost Div|
10 seasons, 12.0 wins on average, 10 playoff appearances, four trips to the conference championships, three Super Bowls.
Other metrics also look promising for the 2021 Cowboys.
- Pythagorean Formula: 12.6 wins
- Football Outsiders: 11.8 wins; 94% chance of making the playoffs, 11% chance at the No. 1 seed.
- Elo Ratings: 12-5 record; 93% chance of making the playoffs; 11% chance at the No. 1 seed, 6% chance at a Super Bowl ring
- ESPN FPI: 11.8 wins; 97% playoffs; 30% NFC Championship game; 13.5% chance to make the Super Bowl, 6.3% chance to win it.
Bill Parcells used to say “Don’t eat the cheese” when things were going well as he didn’t want his players to take their success for granted, or to read about their success and get overconfident.
But is it perhaps time to adjust your goals for the 2021 Cowboys? Surely, they are not just playing for a playoff appearance anymore, even if some Cowboys fans felt just a few months ago that simply making the playoffs would be a stretch for this team. Other Cowboys fans, without so much as blinking, will tell you that “In Dallas, there is only one goal, and that’s a Super Bowl,” which endears us Cowboys fans so much to the rest of the NFL fan base: our collective ability to hold on to successes from 25+ years ago - and derive some sort of expectation and relevance from it for today - is unparalleled.
So what are your updated season goals for the Cowboys?
- Cruise to a division title, rest injured players for postseason for the final 3-4 games, and go deep in the playoffs?
- Reach the Championship game and hope for a Super Bowl appearance?
- To paraphrase Mike Florio, see the team that used to be America’s Team become America’s Team again, with ticker tape parades and visits to the White House?
- Or just be happy to finish with a winning record?
- And then there’s always #SUPERBOWLMINIMUMCOWBOYS!
Share your thoughts in the comments section below.
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