[UPDATE: I see that Todd Archer has a very similar article posted that went up before mine. I'd just like to say that I didn't copy the article from Todd, I actually wrote it earlier today but scheduled it for posting this afternoon. Just want to make sure nobody thinks I plagiarized! I guess it's a popular topic today.]
The Dallas Cowboys 4-4 record is the definition of mediocrity, a place the franchise has basically lived at for the past decade. The weird thing about the 4-4 record this year is that it could be a lot worse, or a lot better, when you look at certain stats. Maybe the Cowboys have the magical power to take all the good and all the bad in their NFL universe and turn it into a big batch of middling mud.
Recently, the Cowboys defense has been getting thrown under the bus, and deservedly so. They now hold the distinction of being the worst defense in the NFL under traditional standards. They have given up the most yards per game (422.5). They have also given up the most passing yards per game (315.4). Sounds like a recipe for a total disaster.
But somehow the Cowboys are 4-4. The reason is they only give up 23.3 points per game which puts them in a familiar spot, middle of the league at 17th. The magic behind that number comes from another stat. Dallas has a +9 turnover margin. This has always been one of the standards of measuring a winning football team. This year is no different as 9 out of the Top 10 teams in turnover margin are .500 or over. Only the Titans have a losing record. But Dallas again makes a mockery of this stat, at +9 they are tied for second in the league only behind the Chiefs. Yet they are 4-4. The other teams at the top of the list - Chiefs, Seahawks, Saints, Patriots - all enjoy stellar win/loss records.
In essence, turnover margin seems to be the one thing holding them in games. They managed to win against the Giants even though they probably got outplayed except for the turnovers, and then we saw what happened last week.
Another popular stat for measuring winning teams is points differential. This has been a reliable stat for a long time. But once again, Dallas defies the odds. Eight teams have a positive points differential in the NFC, only one of them is not have a winning season. Yes, it's the Dallas Cowboys. And it's not like they are barely in the positive range, they are at +44.
The Cowboys are a mystery, they have some really great stats, some really poor stats, but they all ad up to the same thing. A 4-4 record and the long, continuous muck of mediocrity.