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Sunday Stat Nuggets: North Texas Series, Playoff Chances, Prolific Passing And More

Nervous? Excited? Worried? Whatever your state of mind this Sunday morning, there's still a couple of hours left before the Cowboys game in the afternoon. What better way to calm the nerves than to read a post with stats designed specifically for that purpose?

In preparation for this afternoon's game, and with the best regards of the Cowboys media department, we take a quick look at the history of the North Texas Series, predict a very comforting game outcome and review where the Cowboys rank offensively and defensively so far this year.

The NFL media department contributes the remainder of today's pre-game stat nuggets: Why every single NFL team is still in the hunt for the playoffs - at least until this afternoon, which highly unlikely QB just joined the ranks of the very elite in the NFL and what little obscure factoid Randy Moss and Jerry Rice may have in common.

The North Texas Series

The Tennessee Titans/Houston Oilers have traveled to play Dallas six times. The series is evenly split, with each team winning three of those contests. Three of those six games have been Thanksgiving games - and the Cowboys lost all three.

In non-Thanksgiving games, the Cowboys are 3-0 vs the Oilers/Titans and have outscored them 93-40. A continuation of this trend would make a 31-13 Dallas win seem like a likely outcome.

There's always hope no matter what your record - at least through week four.

Up until this Sunday, every NFL team was still in the playoff hunt no matter what its record was. Since the 12-team playoff format was adopted in 1990, 87 teams (36.3 percent of the 240 playoff clubs) have advanced to the postseason after starting the year 2-2 or worse.

22 teams have even rebounded from a 1-3 or 0-4 record after four weeks to qualify for the postseason. Four of those clubs advanced to their conference championship games. Here's an overview of teams that started 1-3 or worse and made the playoffs since 1990:

Year Team Record
1990 Saints 1-3 Wild Card
1990 Eagles 1-3 Wild Card
1991 Jets 1-3 Wild Card
1992 Chargers 0-4 Div. Round
1993 Packers 1-3 Div. Round
1993 Oilers 1-3 Div. Round
1995 Lions 1-3 Wild Card
1995 Eagles 1-3 Div. Round
1996 Cowboys 1-3 Div. Round
1996 Jaguars 1-3 Conference
1997 Giants 1-3 Wild Card
Year Team Record Playoffs
1998 Bills 1-3 Wild Card
2000 Saints 1-3 Div. Round
2001 Patriots 1-3 Won SB 36
2002 Falcons 1-3 Div. Round
2002 Titans 1-3 Conference
2002 Jets 1-3 Div. Round
2002 Steelers 1-3 Div. Round
2004 Packers 1-3 Wild Card
2005 Bears 1-3 Div. Round
2007 Chargers 1-3 Conference
2008 Vikings 1-3 Wild Card
Top 10, Top 10

I'm not usually inclined to show off with pure volume stats, but this one is just too good to pass up:

By yards gained and allowed, the 2009 Cowboys finished with the league’s second ranked offense and the ninth ranked defense to give Dallas a top-10 finish in total offense and defense for the second time in three seasons under Wade Phillips. Three other teams also finished in the top-10 in both total offense and defense in 2009.

So far in 2010, Dallas is again one of four teams to be ranked in the top-10 in both total offense and defense. Shockingly, the table below contains the Oakland Raiders.

Team Offense Rank Defense Rank
Packers 6 2
Vikings 5 6
Cowboys 2 9
Steelers 7 5
Team Offense Rank Defense Rank
Chargers 1 1
Giants 8 3
Cowboys 5 7
Raiders 10 10
Dan Marino, Steve Young, Kurt Warner and ... Kyle Orton?

Broncos quarterback Kyle Orton, who is averaging 354.8 passing yards per game, has passed for a league-best 1,419 yards this year, the second-highest total in NFL history through a season’s first four games. Orton passed for a career-high 476 yards with one touchdown in a week three matchup against the Colts and has thrown for more than 300 yards in three consecutive contests.

And here I was thinking that nothing could shock me after the Raider reference above. Kyle Orton? Wow. Just Wow. The five quarterbacks who have thrown for the most yards through a season’s first four games:

Player Team Year Passing Yards
Kurt Warner
Rams 2000 1,557
Kyle Orton
Drew Bledsoe
Steve Young
Dan Marino
Welcome to the 17-game club, Randy Moss

Randy Moss in 2010 can become the sixth player since the bye week was instituted in 1990 to appear in 17 regular-season games if he competes in each of the 13 games remaining on the Vikings’ schedule. He has played in all 16 regular-seasons games 10 times in his career, including the past three seasons.

Players who appeared in 17 regular-season games in one year since 1990: Chris Singleton (NE/MIA, 1993), Dexter Carter (NYJ/SF 1995), Jerry Rice (OAK/SEA, 2004), Micah Ross (SD/CAR, 2004), Will Witherspoon (STL/PHI, 2009)

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