Cowboys: The NFL's Model of Parity or Mediocrity?

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Is all well among Cowboy Nation now that the Dallas Cowboys have resumed command of the NFC East again? After the Cowboys defeated the New York Giants, members of Cowboys Nation still failed to be satisfied because of the margin of victory. We won. There aren’t any style points or BCS computers and never use the term – barely – after a victory. A win is a win and using the word barely makes it seem as if you would have preferred the Cowboys had lost.

Nov 24, 2013; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; Dallas Cowboys kicker Dan Bailey (5) is congratulated by teammates after kicking the game-winning field goal in the fourth quarter against the New York Giants at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY Sports

This is the era of parity which means close games and exciting division races. Thanks to research provided by Sports Insight that reviewed the margin of victory from the results of 2,670 NFL games. Since 2003, nearly 16% of all NFL games have had a 3 point margin of victory. 10% of all games have a 7 point margin of victory and 6% have a 10 point margin of victory. Long story short, approximately 25% of NFL games have a margin of victory of either 3 or 7 points. It’s time to recognize that blowout wins are the exception, not the norm.

The next point of Cowboys criticism involves finishing with a record of 8 – 8 since 2011. In 2011, the Giants won the division with a 9 – 7 record, but they weren’t alone. The AFC West was just as average.

2011 NFC East

2011 AFC West

New York Giants

9 – 7

Denver Broncos

8 – 8

Philadelphia Eagles

8 – 8

San Diego Chargers

8 – 8

Dallas Cowboys

8 – 8

Oakland Raiders

8 – 8


5 – 11

Kansas City Chiefs

7 – 9

In 2012, similar results could be found in the NFC South with three teams tied for second place with records of 9 – 7. The Cowboys had a point differential of -24. They scored 376 points, but allowed 400. They also went 3-3 in the division. While they may have looked horrific at moments due to defensive injuries and fans ability to enter panic mode, statistics indicate the Cowboys were a competitive football team. They did enter the last game of the season with a chance to enter the playoffs. Of 32 teams, 16 had records worse than 8 – 8 last season and the Super Bowl winning Baltimore Ravens finished their season 10 – 6. It’s not mediocrity, it’s parity.

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