The Dallas Cowboys have a big test this Sunday when they travel north to play the Patriots. The game features two franchises with historic dynasties.
The Dallas Cowboys sit in first place in the NFC East. The New England Patriots are in first place in the AFC East. Many questions about America’s Team will be answered at the end of this game.
For starters, which team is America’s Team. Cowboys Nation has a long-held claim to this title. The Cowboys are the only NFL team to record 20 straight winning seasons which they did from 1966 to 1985 missing the playoffs only twice.
The Patriots have their own winning season streak on the go. The finished the 2000 season with a 5-11 record and have not had a losing season since.
With their 9-1 record this season, that makes 19 straight seasons and counting without a losing season. They have missed the playoffs only twice during this time as well.
During the Cowboys run, they won two Super Bowls and lost three. The Patriots have won six Super Bowls and lost three.
Pats fans can make a claim that they are America’s Team. But the reality is the Patriots dynasty is predicated on the play of one quarterback and one coach. Both will likely go down in history as the greatest at their craft.
Quarterback Tom Brady has started every single game during the 19 seasons with the exception of 21 games. Drew Bledsoe was the starter in 2001 before he was injured in the second game of the season. Brady missed 15 games in the 2008 season with a knee injury and then four games in the 2016 season due to suspension.
The Cowboys also had one coach, Hall of Famer Tom Landry, during their 20-year dynasty. But the Cowboys had four quarterbacks start more than 35 games during this period:
The Patriots have had four quarterbacks not named Brady play during this time. Interestingly, two of them eventually would play for the Cowboys during their career:
- Matt Cassel 15 games
- Drew Bledsoe 2
- Jimmy Garoppolo 2
- Jacoby Brisset 2
To have 19 consecutive winning seasons in the NFL, especially during the salary cap era, is a significant achievement. Roster building is difficult when teams are picking players from your roster during free agency.
But the two constants for the Patriots have been able to overcome this challenge. Coach Bill Belichick has been able to motivate and scheme and Brady has always had the will to win.
The Patriots have the chance to surpass the Cowboys with two more winning seasons. But the task might be a little harder as it seems that age is finally catching up to Brady. The Pats strength, this year, is their defense currently ranked first by yards allowed.
Brady has repeatedly shown frustration with the offense. It’s the type of frustration knowing that in years past he was able to do more with a similar cast around him.
The game this Sunday won’t change anything about the Patriots’ pursuit of a Cowboys record. But it will be a big test for the Cowboys to decide if they belong in the playoff conversation this year.