What was the Difference Between Dallas and the 12 Playoff Teams?

What were the MAJOR differences (statistically) between the 2008 Dallas Cowboys and the 12 teams that made the playoffs?

Was it the WIN / LOSS RECORD? Not really

PHI only bested DAL by ½ a game

ARI actually had the same record as DAL 9-7


Was the difference NET POINTS?  Nope

Even though some playoff teams had a very high NET POINT advantage, like

TEN (+141)

BAL (+141)

Other playoff teams had a much lower NET POINT accumulation, like

MIA (+28)

ARI (+1)

DAL at -3 was not very far removed from ARI.


Was the difference PASS COMPLETION PERCENTAGE?  no

Although some playoff teams had a high percentage

IND – 67.2%

MIA – 67.2%

Other playoff teams were much lower

MIN – 59.1%

TEN – 58.5%

So DAL, at 60.0% was in the ball park


Was the difference YARDS PER GAME? no

Between the high of ARI:  365.8 yards per game

And the low of PIT: 311.9 yards per game

DAL was in the middle: 344.5



Between the high of IND: 50%

And the low of TEN: 36%

DAL was exactly in the middle: 43%


Was the difference TIME OF POSSESION?  no

Between the high of

BAL: 33 minutes 22 seconds

And the low of

IND: 28 minutes 39 seconds

DAL was in-between: 30 minutes 02 seconds per game


Was the difference SACKS ALLOWED?  no

Between the low of

TEN – 12 sacks allowed

And the high of

PIT – 49 sacks allowed

DAL was in the middle: 31 sacks allowed


I could continue with a long list of similar statistics that show that the Cowboys’ numbers looked like the numbers of the playoff teams: Rushing, Passing, Scoring, Quarterback Rating, Yards per Reception, Points Allowed, Plays From Scrimmage, Sacks Made, Tackles, etc.


The ONLY TWO AREAS that I see right now, statistically, that separated the Cowboys from the 12 playoff teams are:




First look at Penalties:

DAL led the league in number of Penalties: 119 for the year

How did the playoff teams do?

The 6 AFC playoff teams averaged: 94.6 penalties for the year (about 24 less than DAL)

The 6 NFC playoff teams averaged: 89.6 penalties for the year (about 29 less than DAL)


Second look at Turnover Ratio:

DAL was -11 and only SF (-17) and DEN (-17) were worse.  We were rated 30th in Turnover Ratio – Awful!


MIN (-6) and ATL (-3) were the only playoffs teams to be in the negative with turnover ratio.  The leaders were MIA (+17), TEN (+14), and BAL (+13).


The Cowboys fumbled the ball 29 times and lost 13 of them (4th WORSE in the league)

Romo fumbled 13 times and lost 8

Barber fumbled 7 times and lost 3


The Cowboys threw 20 INTs (2nd WORSE in the league)

Romo 14 INTs

Johnson 5 INTs

Bollinger 1 INT


The Cowboy Defense only Intercepted the ball 8 times all year (3rd WORSE in the league)

Newman 4 INTs

Hamlin 1 INT

Jenkins 1 INT

Henry 1 INT

Ellis 1 INT


However, the Cowboy Defense Recovered 14 Fumbles all year (5th BEST in the league)

Henry, James, and Ware were the only players with more than 1 recovery; they had 2 FUM RECs each


Simply put: if DAL can reduce its penalties and increase its turnover ratio the likelihood of making the playoffs is much greater.



Another user-created commentary provided by a BTB reader.

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