IRVING, Texas – Plain and simple, the Cowboys have been a better football team on the road this year than at home.
Call it coincidence or better competition or just a matter of circumstance, but the Cowboys are a perfect 6-0 in road games this year and just 3-4 at AT&T Stadium.
So with that, are the Cowboys actually in good shape as they head to Lincoln Financial Field Sunday night in a battle for first place with the Eagles?
The oddsmakers actually have the Cowboys as just a three-point underdog on the road, despite a 23-point home loss to Philadelphia less than two weeks ago.
So what is the difference in the Cowboys' ability to win on the road? Head coach Jason Garrett says the style his team plays is better suited to handle hostile environments.
"I think we have the right kind of guys on our team," Garrett said. "I think we have guys who are mentally tough. I think we're probably built better than we've been in recent years to go play on the road in a lot of different adverse circumstances, meaning we're a more physical team on the offensive line. We've allocated resources to those positions, and when you can control the line of scrimmage and run the football, typically you can tend to play anywhere, regardless of the environment. Whether it's a hostile crowd or dealing with weather or field conditions, if you can control the line of scrimmage, you give yourself a pretty good chance to win games."
When Garrett said Dallas is "built" to be a better road team, the term is literal. The Cowboys have rebuilt this offensive line from the ground up, using the draft and post-draft free agency.
Four of the starting five were all draft picks, including three first-round selections. Left guard Ron Leary wasn't drafted in 2011, but was one of Jerry Jones' favorite undrafted players, as he went to the post-draft press conference beaming about the possibility of signing Leary, an offensive tackle at Memphis that projected at guard.
All five of the starters are players the Cowboys have coveted. Now they're playing as a unit, so going into places such as Chicago, New York and even Seattle, the Cowboys have been able to run the football and keep the crowds out of the game.
The Cowboys' two best rushing performances this year – 220 yards against the Titans and 194 vs. the Bears, both came on the road. The Cowboys also went for 162 against the Seahawks, more than 100 yards better than the 60.3 yards Seattle was allowing on the ground before the game.
The Cowboys' 6-0 start on the road marks just the third time in franchise history that they've won their first six games away from home. The Cowboys last did so in 2007, when they went 7-0 before losing the finale in Washington. The Cowboys were also 7-0 in 1968 when they played just 14 games, marking the only perfect road record in franchise history.
But obviously, the Cowboys have yet to finish 8-0 in a regular season on the road.
"The challenges of playing on the road are the obvious ones," Garrett said. "Typically, you're playing in a different environment, different locker room, different field, dealing with the crowd, crowd noise – everything that goes with that. I do think some of the positives are the fact that your team is together, by themselves, traveling together, in the hotel together. There aren't a lot of the distractions that sometimes you have at home. And sometimes there's that warrior mentality where you go on the road and you kind of embrace all the challenges that come with it. I think our team has done a good job of that this year."
Good so far. That description might jump to the next level if the Cowboys can make it a perfect 7-0 this week in Philly.