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History shows it’s important for Mike McCarthy and the Cowboys to start 1-0

The last time Mike McCarthy started the season with a win over an NFC East team, very good things happened to his team.

NFL: Super Bowl XLV-Green Bay Packers vs Pittsburgh Steelers Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

As the head coach of the Dallas Cowboys, Mike McCarthy has never started the season 1-0. In 2020, they lost on the road to the Los Angeles Rams. In 2021 and 2022, Dallas lost to Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. On Sunday, it will be the first time the Cowboys play a division rival to open the season under McCarthy, and for the fourth straight year, they will be playing on Sunday Night Football in Week 1.

What does that all mean? McCarthy consistently preaches that winning against a divisional opponent is like winning two games because it counts towards your overall record and is a division tiebreaker come playoff seeding.

Across his coaching career, McCarthy has a lifetime record of 9-7 in Week 1 matchups. The veteran coach is also familiar with playing a division opponent to start the season. Five games were against the Minnesota Vikings or Chicago Bears when he was in Green Bay. McCarthy has a record of 4-1 in those games and was 1-0 when the Packers started on the road in the division.

With Sunday’s game against the New York Giants, what is McCarthy’s record against NFC East opponents to start the year? He’s played the Philadelphia Eagles twice and has won both matchups.

One of the years he played the Eagles, 2010, something extraordinary happened at the end of the year—the Packers won the Super Bowl.

Of course, it’s a stretch, but if McCarthy found a way to get his team to win on Sunday at MetLife Stadium, he could be heading down a similar path to his 2010 season.

McCarthy’s records to end the season after starting with a division win are split.

2008: (6-10)

2009: (11-5)

2015: (10-6)

*2018: (4-7-1) *fired after Week 13

Two were less than ideal, especially in 2018, where he was let go mid-season, but in the other two, McCarthy made the playoffs with the Packers. 2023 has the feeling of being more positive than negative.

We’ll see where the start of McCarthy’s fourth year in Dallas begins, but he knows Sunday’s game is important. Expectations are at an all-time high for this Cowboys team.

However, if they walk out of New Jersey with a win, the stars would be aligning toward something happening in Dallas that fans haven’t seen in almost 30 years.

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