Could the Dallas Cowboys Be the First Team in NFL History to Complete the Bird Gauntlet?
The NFL schedules were released last week to much fanfare, and the Dallas Cowboys hype and hope for the 2020 season were boosted by a relatively easy schedule, according to the experts.
It's ranked in the top 5 easiest schedules according to the winning percentages of last season. Sure, teams improve, but it's a pretty good indication that the Cowboys could hot start and ride that momentum to a playoff spot.
But a Reddit user by the name of The_real_2pac points out that the Dallas Cowboys have something much more exciting to play for in 2020 than just the playoffs or a Super Bowl.
They can complete The Bird Gauntlet.
What's The Bird Gauntlet, you ask? It's when an NFL team gets the privilege of playing all five bird-related mascots in the NFL in a single season. Only one team plays all five of those teams in the 2020 regular season. That team is the Dallas Cowboys.
No team in NFL history has gone undefeated against all five bird teams in a single season. Those five teams are the Eagles, Ravens, Cardinals, Seahawks, and Falcons. The Cowboys will line up against all five this season.
The_real_2pac shows us that's a pretty rare opportunity:
Due to the yearly divisional matchup cycles, every twelve years the Skins, Giants, and Cowboys are guaranteed to play the Eagles, Ravens, Cardinals, and Seahawks, and one of them might play the Falcons if they finished in the same place within their respective divisions the previous year. This last occurred in 2008 and will happen again this year.
The Giants and Redskins can also have an opportunity to accomplish the task this season, but they must get lucky and face the Falcons in the playoffs. I'm making the less-than-bold prediction right now that none of those three teams make the NFL playoffs, so The Bird Gauntlet rests on the broad shoulders of first-year head coach Mike McCarthy.
In the same Reddit post referenced above, The_Real_2pac says that according to his research, two teams have come close in the past, but failed the gauntlet. The 2003 Rams, who beat four of the teams before losing to the Eagles, and the Giants, who lost to the Falcons in 2008 after a valiant effort.
The Cowboys' chances start off great with the Falcons at home, before heading to Seattle for a tough road matchup where they've lost 5 of the last 7 games dating back to 2001. Not an impossible task, though. The Cowboys beat a Super Bowl-bound Seahawks squad in Seattle back in 2014 and beat them in the playoff matchup in January 2019.
Next, the Cowboys get Arizona at home. The second easiest bird-related win next to the Falcons. The Cowboys then get two shots at the Eagles, and they haven't been swept by the brotherly birds since 2006. I like those odds.
Finally, in between the Eagles matchups, the toughest hurdle to jump on the entire gauntlet is the Baltimore Ravens in Baltimore. If the Cowboys' duo of linebackers are healthy and the defensive end situation shakes out, the Cowboys can hope to contain Lamar Jackson. If they don't, the gauntlet ends in Baltimore.
I think the Cowboys have an 85 percent chance to beat the Cardinals, Falcons, and Eagles in 2020. The Seahawks are closer to even odds. As it stands today, the Cowboys will be underdogs heading into Baltimore in December, and the Cowboys are 1-4 all-time against those pesky purple birds.