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Yard Stick-Wk4: Cowboys-Lions Efficiency

Previously, we observed the stats regarding the Cowboys' Defense vs the Lions' Offense. Then we took a look at the Cowboys' Offense vs the Lions' Defense.

With just a day away from the Lions-Cowboys facing off, here we are going to be taking a look at the efficiency of both teams.

 

http://pjfleckcamp.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/11/wpid-Detroit-Lions-vs-Dallas-Cowboys.jpg

 

COWBOYS OFFENSIVE EFFICIENCY

Cowboys
3rd-Down
RedZone
Time of Possession
Points Scored
vs NYJ
4/12 - 33%
2/4 - 50%
33:53 24
vs SF
6/14 - 42% 1/3 - 33% 32:10 27
vs WAS
3/13 - 23% 0/3 - 0% 31:36 15
Avg/G 33% 30% 32:33 22

The Cowboys have dominated Time of Possession against all opponents, but not by a large margin. The offense is averaging 32 minutes on the field, which means the defense should be averaging 28 minutes on the field

As much as we would like to see our offense on the field for longer periods of time, our 3rd-Down Efficiency is whats holding us back. We are currently ranked 20th in the league with 33% on 3rd-Downs. That's 9% above the 32nd ranked team (Bengals -  24%) and 29% below the #1 ranked team (Chargers - 62%). We're not that far from the bottom!

Speaking of the bottom, we've been int he RedZone 10 times in 3 games and only got in 3 times. That means we're averaging 3 RedZone trips a game and only making it in once-a-game! We can't pass it in the RedZone and we can't run it in the RedZone. It's a 60% chance we're going to kick the Field Goal in the RedZone. The other 10% is the chance we may turn it over. I rather have 3 points then nothing, but 6 is better.

As little as we've enter the EndZone in the RedZone, we still find ways to score outside of the RedZone. According to the NFL, the Total Points Scored for the Cowboys is 69 (ranked #13). I've totaled it to 66 points because the offense started in field goal range and ended with a field goal. It's almost guaranteed to score 3 points, unless the offense gets out of range, the kick is blocked or the Kicker misses the shot.

Just 17 points were gained when the offense started in the RedZone. That means that the Cowboys offense have scored 52 points, 75% Total Points Scored, having to drive the ball down field and into field goal range (resulting in a field goal or TD). Two of our RedZone conversions occurred when we started in the RedZone. This means that the Cowboys' Offense rarely starts a drive in short field.

LIONS DEFENSIVE EFFICIENCY

Lions
3rd-Down
RedZone
Time of Possession
Points Allowed
vs TB
6/14 - 42%
1/4 - 25%
23:35 10
vs KC
2/11 - 18%
0/1 - 0%
27:36 3
vs MIN
4/14 - 28%
2/5 - 40%
27:50 23
Avg/G 31%
30%
26:20 12

The Lions have allowed 31% of 3rd-Downs to be converted on them, ranking them at #4. You can already see the problem as the Cowboys' Offense are converting 33% of their 3rd-Downs. Looking at the 3rd-Down Rankings, we see the Jets at #1, the Redskins at #2, Seahawks at #3 and the 49ers tied for #4, with the Lions.

We've already played the top-two 3rd-Down Defenses and we played pretty bad against them. However, the Lions are tied for #4 with the 49ers. We played against the 49ers and we did rather well against them, converting 42% of our 3rd-Downs. Could we repeat that?

What we hope not to be repeated is the Cowboys RedZone Efficiency. The Lions are allowing 30% of RedZone attempts to be converted on them and the Cowboys are converting 30% of their RedZone attempts. Again, we need to consider who the Lions have played against.

COWBOYS OFFENSIVE EFFICIENCY VS LIONS DEFENSIVE EFFICIENCY

Teams 3rd-Down
RedZone
Points
Cowboys
33%
3/10 - 30%
22
Lions
31%
3/10 - 30%
12
Expected 32%
30%
17

According to the stats, it is expected for the Cowboys to convert 32% of their 3rd-Downs. Without Miles Austin and still not sure about Dez Bryant, this shouldn't be too much of a surprise. A big part of the Cowboys' conversions against the 49ers was the success of Miles Austin, which got pressure off of Jason Witten. We're going to need Witten in this game as well.

Not only in 3rd-Down conversions, but we're going to need Witten in the RedZone. More importantly, a healthy Dez Bryant can work wonders for our RedZone conversions. How many Cowboys' Fans were barking for an endzone throw-up to Dez Bryant in the Redskins' game?

Unfortunately, Dez Bryant was there more for show then anything else. Either way, the stats tell us that we should expect the Lions Defense to give up 17 points in this game. This is below Cowboys' average per game of 22 and above the Lions' average per game of 12. Again, this is not the final score of the game and could be off, high or low.

LIONS OFFENSIVE EFFICIENCY

Lions
3rd-Down
RedZone
Time of Possession
Points Allowed
vs TB
2/11 - 18%
2/4 - 50%
36:25 27
vs KC
5/15 - 33%
5/6 - 83%
32:24 45
vs MIN
7/17 - 41%
1/3 - 33%
34:09 20
Avg/G 33%
62%
34:19 30

We see a lot of similarities between the Cowboys' Offense and the Lions' Offense. Both teams have an equal percentage on 3rd-Downs and very similar Time of Possessions. The only difference being the Lions' RedZone Efficiency is extremely well. However, their strength of schedule is extremely weak as well.

Of the 48 points the Lions put up against the Chiefs, 31 points were scored on the Chiefs' side of the field due to turnovers. Of the 26 points scored on the Vikings, 10 points were scored from around midfield. The only, obvious, real challenge the Lions have had was against the Buccaneers.

I would mention the 20 point deficit they had to come back from in the Vikings game, which is a difficult thing to accomplish and kudos to them, but the Buccs came back from 17-point deficit at the half against the Vikings, in week 2, to win the game. It seems to suggest that its a Viking thing and not so much a Lions thing.

What the Vikings did do, they humbled the Lions in the RedZone. Where they were converting 50% and 83% of RedZone opportunities in weeks 1 and 2, the Vikings kept the Lions down to a 33% Efficiency. Their percentage is still high in RedZone Efficiency, but you have to ask whether that's because their that good or are the numbers inflated?

In all three game, the Lions have also dominated the Time of Possession. By a bigger margin then the Cowboys were able to against their opponents. Because of this, the stats suggest that we should be expecting the Lions to hold the ball longer then the Cowboys. Yet, the fact that the Lions have played much weaker teams, we could still see the Cowboys hold the ball longer.

COWBOYS DEFENSIVE EFFICIENCY

Cowboys
3rd-Down
RedZone
Time of Possession
Points Allowed
vs NYJ
6/14 - 42%
1/2 - 50% 26:07 17
vs SF
8/16 - 50% 2/2 - 100% 30:43 24
vs WAS
3/12 - 25% 1/3 - 33% 28:24 13
Avg/G 40%
57%
28:24 18

The Cowboys are ranked at #20 with a 40% 3rd-Down Conversion allowed. So not only do we no convert 3rd-Downs, we allow teams to convert them on us. As much pressure as our defense gets, as good as they are against the run and as good as they are in the clutch, we need to work on getting our offense more time on the field and our defense more rest.

What is partially good news, our RedZone efficiency. The Cowboys are allowing 57% of RedZone, which is a bad thing; however, it is much improved in the last game compared to the previous two games. If we can keep this up. the Cowboys will sure reduce the conversions allowed in the RedZone.

Currently, the Cowboys' Defense is allowing 18 points a game (not including Field Goals when the offense started its drive in Field Goal range). The Lions' Offense are averaging 30 points a game, due to the ridicules numbers they put up against the 0-3 Chiefs. The stats are going to suggest that the Lions are going to put up more points on us; however, I highly doubt that will happen in the actual game.

COWBOYS DEFENSIVE EFFICIENCY VS LIONS OFFENSIVE EFFICIENCY

Teams 3rd-Down RedZone Points
Cowboys
40% 57% 18
Lions
33% 62% 30
Expected 36% 60% 24

The stats tell us that we should expect the Lions' Offense to convert 36% of their 3rd-Downs against the Cowboys' Defense. That's slightly better then what the Cowboys' Offense is expected to convert; 32%. This tells us that we should be looking for a lot of 3-and-outs and more big plays on 1st and 2nd Downs.

It's also expected for the Lions to convert 60% of their RedZone attempts. It could happen, but I don't believe this will happen. I'm expecting to see the Lions' RedZone Efficiency to look more like this; 1/2 - 50% or 1/3 - 33%. The Lions' Offense is the best we're facing, so far, and the closest comparison we have are the Redskins and Jets.

Both, Redskins and Jets, are ranked 15 and 16 in total yards a game. The Lions are ranked #10 in total yards a game. We can see that our Defense has improved through the 3 weeks and I expect them to play just as well as they played against the Redskins.

The Cowboys' Defense have allowed 18 points a game, while the Lions' Offense are averaging 30 points a game. The stats are telling us that the Cowboys' Defense will allow 24 points in this game. If this is true and the Lions' Defense allows 17 points, that will be a TD (7-point) difference which will mean another close game.

Yet, we must take the Lions' Offensive points like a grain of salt. The defenses they have played are currently ranked in Total Points Allowed a game; Buccaneers ranked #9 (60), Chiefs ranked #32 (109) and Vikings ranked #22 (74). The Cowboys' are ranked #16 in Total Points Allowed a game; 67.

The Lions' scored 27 points on the Buccaneers and they are ranked better then the Cowboys in Total Points Allowed. This suggest that it is completely possible for the Lions to score 24 points on the Cowboys. We allowed a much weaker team, 49ers, to score 24 points on us. If this is the case, we could be looking at over 50 total points scored by both teams, maybe even 60.

Another user-created commentary provided by a BTB reader.

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