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Cowboys vs Bears By The Numbers: How The Cowboys Found Their Groove

A look back at the Cowboys win over the Bears on Sunday night. By the numbers, of course...

Tom Pennington/Getty Images

Here's a look back at the Bears game. By the numbers, of course.

Getting into the groove

The Cowboys may not (yet) be the explosive offense they were with a healthy Tony Romo, but their methodical and patient playcalling makes them highly effective at sustaining long scoring drives.

52.5%: The Cowboys' league leading third-down conversion rate after three games (last year, the Cowboys had a conversion rate of 34.6 percent, No. 27 in NFL). On defense, the team is allowing a conversion rate of just 37.5%, and the resulting third-down conversion differential of +15% (No. 5 in the NFL) is a key reason why the Cowboys have scored on 50% of their drives to date, while the opponents have only scored on 37% of their drives.

77: Points the Cowboys have scored this season. That's 25.7 points per game, good for 11th in the NFL, and 8.9 points more per game than they averaged last year. It's not quite at the 2014 level of 29.2 points per game, but the trajectory is encouraging.

1: The number of Chicago drives of more than four minutes out of eleven total drives. By contrast, the Cowboys had five drives of four minutes or more, all of which ended in a score.

4: Consecutive number of possessions the Cowboys scored on to start the game (TD, FG, TD, TD). The last time they did that? Dec. 28, 2014 at Washington, when they scored on their first five possessions en route to a 44-17 win.

4: Number of touchdowns on four red zone trips against Chicago, quite an improvement over the season-opener (1-3) and even the Week 2 game against the Redskins (3-5)

The ground game

The Cowboys struggled early in the season with their ground game, but look to have found their groove more recently. Their commitment to the run is is clear to every opponent, but that doesn't mean those opponents can do anything about it.

7: The league-leading number of rushing touchdowns by the Cowboys over three games. They had eight in 16 games last season.

37%: The pass/run ratio on Sunday. The Cowboys ran the ball 41 times and threw it 24 times. For the season, they are about as balanced as it gets: 99 passes, 101 runs for a 50% pass/run ratio. Only the Patriots (45%) and the 49ers (49%) lean on the run more heavily than the Cowboys.

1,461: Ezekiel Elliott is second in the league in rushing yards and is on pace for 1,461 yards on the season. Not bad for a wasted pick.

5.1: Before the final drive, Elliott had 27 carries for 139 yards and a 5.1 YPA average. He added three more runs for a combined one yard as the Cowboys ran down the clock on their final possession, and Jason Garrett inexplicably decided to give Elliott carries number 28, 29, and 30 while Alfred Morris was still fresh after just five carries all night.

Airing it out

The Cowboys struggled in the season-opener, but the passing game is gaining some very impressive momentum.

87.2: ESPN's QBR for Dak Prescott, the second-best value of all NFL quarterbacks. The classic passer rating only takes the passing game into account, and ranks Prescott 12th overall with a 93.3 passer rating. QBR also accounts for the ground game, and with his two rushing TDs, Prescott shows up well in this metric.

10.3: The Cowboys' YPA on Sunday, a cool 3.8 yards higher than they allowed the Bears to throw. Usually, a YPA differential of +2 is thought to be very good. The difference between offensive and defensive yards per pass attempt correlates strongly to wins and losses; usually, a YPA differential of +2 is thought to be very good; a YPA of 3.0 or better is indicative of dominance on both sides of the ball. The 3.8 figure suggests that the Cowboys were pretty dominant where it mattered: in the passing game, and the trend is pointing in the right direction in this important metric.

Week 1 Week 2 Week 3
YPA Offense
5.0 9.7 10.3
YPA Defense 7.4 7.9
YPA Differential -2.4 +1.8

+29.9: The difference in passer rating between the Cowboys (123.6) and the Bears (93.7). We know that passer rating differential (PRD), is one of the stats most closely linked to winning in the NFL. The PRD formula (Projected Wins = PRD*0.16+8) has shown a fairly close correlation with the Cowboys' actual wins over the last few years, and plugging in the +29.9 into the PRD formula suggests the Cowboys played like a 13-win team on Sunday. Here's how this metric has developed over the first three weeks:

Week 1 Week 2 Week 3 Total
Passer Rating Offense
123.6 93.3
Passer Rating Defense
93.7 93.8
Passer Rating Differential
+29.9 -0.5
Projected wins 1.5

60: Career touchdown catches by Dez Bryant. Incidentally, Bryant's 60th TD was also Prescott's first TD.

20: Cole Beasley is tied for fifth in the league in catches (20) after three games.


Nobody will currently mistake the Cowboys defense for a league-leading unit, but the defense may not be quite as bad as they're made out to be - even if their bend-but-don't-break approach can drive you nuts.

20: Points allowed per game, the tenth-best value in the league. That doesn't make them a top-10 defense, but it means they are getting stops when they matter.

20%: The third down conversion allowed on Sunday, when the Bears only converted two of their 10 third downs.

25:02: Average time the defense is on the field, the second-lowest value in the league behind only the Eagles.

3: Number of consecutive games with takeaways, something the Cowboys didn't achieve last year, though they had a takeaway in every game except the season-opener in the season before.

0.00%: Brian Hoyer's league-leading sack percentage after playing the Dallas Cowboys. The Bears allowed eight sacks in their previous two games, the Cowboys defense managed just one QB hit (Ryan Davis) and no sacks.

The 2016 Rookie class

215: Number of snaps taken by Dallas Cowboys rookies on offense or defense on Sunday. Ezekiel Elliott and Dak Prescott got to start on offense, as did Maliek Collins and Anthony Brown on defense. That's a pretty good number for the rookie class, considering that Charles Tapper, Darius Jackson, and Kavon Frazier were not active.

90,554: Attendance on Sunday night at AT&T Stadium, by far the biggest - and perhaps quietest - crowd at an NFL game in Week 3.

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