If the Cowboys are able to beat the Texans Sunday at AT&T Stadium, their storied history suggests they’ll have an 87 percent chance of making the playoffs.
In their 55-year history the Cowboys have started a season 4-1 on 15 occasions. Of those 15, they went on to make the playoffs 13 times. A victory over Houston obviously wouldn’t assure Dallas of anything in a young NFL season just crawling into October, but at 4-1 they would certainly be on the right track to their first post-season berth since 2009.
The Cowboys, favored by almost a touchdown over their intrastate rivals, are also attempting to win four consecutive games, something they haven’t achieved since 2011.
But, more importantly, at 4-1 the Cowboys would put themselves in a positive position that only twice in their history has failed to produce a playoff appearance.
The last 4-1 start by Dallas came in 2008, when the addition of Pacman Jones was supposed to be the final piece to a puzzle that fell apart the year before, despite a 13-3 season. That team stated hot, but plummeted down the stretch and lost a win-or-go-home finale in Philadelphia by an embarrassing 44-6. The only other 4-1 start that cratered came in 1984, when the Gary Hogeboom-quarterbacked Cowboys lost their last two games to finish 9-7.
Thirteen other 4-1 starts continued into the postseason, including Super Bowl championships in 1995 and 1992 and a loss in Super Bowl X in 1975.
1966 Yes 10-3-1 Lost NFL Championship Game
1967 Yes 9-5 Lost NFL Championship Game
1972 Yes 10-4 Lost NFC Championship Game
1975 Yes 10-4 Lost Super Bowl 10
1979 Yes 11-5 Lost Divisional Playoff Game
1980 Yes 12-4 Lost NFC Championship Game
1981 Yes 12-4 Lost NFC Championship Game
1982 Yes 6-3 Lost NFC Championship Game
1984 No 9-7 Lost final two games of season
1985 Yes 10-6 Lost Divisional Playoff Game
1992 Yes 13-3 Won Super Bowl 27
1994 Yes 12-4 Lost NFC Championship Game
1995 Yes 12-4 Won Super Bowl 30
2003 Yes 10-6 Lost Wild Card Game
2008 No 9-7 Lost final two games of season
A native Texan who was born in Duncanville and graduated from UT-Arlington, Richie Whitt has been a mainstay in the Metroplex media since 1986. He’s held prominent roles on all media platforms including newspaper (Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Dallas Observer), radio (105.3 The Fan) and TV (co-host on TXA 21 and numerous guest appearances, including NBC 5). He currently lives in McKinney with his wife, Sybil, and two very spoiled dogs.