The Cowboys have lost five games in a row and only sit a game and a half out of first place in the division. There are still nine games left in the season, seven of which the team is hopeful that Tony Romo will be able to play in. But as this team has gradually seen some key players return to the field, it hasn't helped them come away with a win. Greg Hardy, Randy Gregory, and Dez Bryant have all returned to action over the last few weeks, but the added boost from having them in the lineup has not been enough. Tony Romo is a different story as he holds the most important position on the football field, but the Cowboys are still going to have to play better football across the board if they are to find ways to string together wins. While playing better is the key ingredient for futures success, there is another element that should be able to help the Cowboys win games - the quality of their opponents.
The Cowboys have faced some good teams this season. A team like the Atlanta Falcons didn't seem like a real difficult challenge at the time of their week three matchup, but they have established themselves as one of the better football teams this season. The Seattle Seahawks have a great defense and the New England Patriots are very good on both sides of the ball. But how good are the rest of their opponents?
Here are the Cowboys opponents this season and where they stand in total yards on offense, defense, and their net values. Teams that have a smaller net gain than Dallas are indicated in green.
What is interesting about this is that both the Cowboys wins this season have come against the only two teams they've faced that have a smaller net value. The Cowboys offense has only gained eight more yards than their defense has allowed, however, both the New York Giants and Philadelphia Eagles have a worse net yardage. Not only that, but all the teams that have a better net yardage than Dallas have beaten them. There is a solid correlation between the net yardage and which team won the game with the only anomaly being the second time the Cowboys played the Giants. And in that game, the Cowboys loss can largely be attributed to the -3 turnover differential margin.
Based on these numbers, the Cowboys could fair a lot better as the season progresses. This season, the Cowboys have three teams on their schedule that are in the top five in yards gained (Patriots, Falcons, and Saints). There are also two teams in the top five in yards allowed (Seahawks and Jets). Of all these teams, the New York Jets are the only team the Cowboys have left to play on their schedule. In fact, the Jets are the only team remaining that have a better net yardage than the Cowboys.
While the Cowboys continue to look for ways to get better, things could start getting a little easier for them without them doing anything different. And if they are able to get their offense going, get Tony Romo back, and find ways for their defense to generate turnovers - wins should follow.