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What Separates The Cowboys From The Super Bowl Teams?

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Can the Cowboys draw any conclusions based on the makeup of Sundays' participants in Super Bowl 50 that might help them accomplish their ultimate goal in 2016 and beyond?

Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

The Carolina Panthers and the Denver Broncos will take part in Super Bowl 50 on Sunday night. The other 30 NFL teas will be looking on, in search of areas of  focus in need of development to put them in position to be one of those two in the game.

For Dallas, 2015 was basically a lost year offensively because of the injuries to the two most important players, but a quick look at just a few numbers defensively really paint the picture.

The most impactful plays an NFL defense can make are, interceptions, fumble recoveries, sacks and defensive touchdowns. Let's compare the Cowboys' numbers in these categories with the Super Bowl participants.

Fumble Recovery Interceptions Sacks Defensive Touchdowns Total
Dallas 3 8 31 1 43
Denver 13 14 52 5 84
Carolina 14 24 44 4 86

Looking at these numbers it becomes fairly obvious, and confirms what we believed through the season. The Cowboys defense, while playing very well overall, just was not making those impactful plays that the most successful teams in the league were able to generate. If Dallas is going to improve their performance on defense and as a team as a whole, they will need their defense to make more of these impact plays. It is quite likely that Dallas will be seeking to add a playmaker to the defense at every level, the defensive line, linebackers, and the secondary, in attempt to raise their impact total.

One other interesting aspect of this particular comparison, is how different the Denver and Carolina defenses are in philosophy, scheme and personnel, while producing almost identical impact play totals. Denver is an attacking 3-4 team, coached by Wade Phillips and built around their edge rush and their secondary, those players make passing against them extremely difficult. Carolina on the other hand is a 4-3 team coached by Sean McDermott, that is built on the strength of the defensive tackles and linebackers who are great against the run and in coverage. Two different philosophies, the same result - defenses that impact the game through big plays.