The Dallas Cowboys have fallen to 1-4 for the fourth time in their history, and though some lingering positivity remains in the locker room at Valley Ranch, history suggests that the team will not be able to climb out of the proverbial hole to make a run at the playoffs.
In 1963, Dallas started 1-4 and ended at 4-10; in 2001, the team started at 1-4 and finished at 5-11. In 1979, Dallas started 4-1 but actually emerged with a winning record of 8-6--a marginal victory at best, considering that this was the only year, from 1966 to 1983, that the team missed the playoffs.
These numbers may be slightly skewed, considering that the league didn’t expand to a 16 game schedule until 1978, but not much. Under the current playoff format, which has been in place since 1990, 240 teams have gone to the playoffs--just five of those teams have done it after a 1-4 start.
Football will often make a fool of the man who dismisses a team’s chances early, so we’ll stipulate that there still is a chance that Dallas can make a playoff push in the wide-open NFC. But the history and the math of the situation suggest that the season is all but over--as does the way Dallas has played in exactly 80 percent of their games thus far.
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