Dallas coaches and players very much adhere to head coach Jason Garrett’s “process” philosophy which dictates you work on the things you can today to improve for tomorrow. Some fans, like myself, can’t help but take a peek ahead. And the near future will almost certainly include excitement and the most explosive offensive fireworks the NFL can provide.
Consider the Cowboys and their next four opponent’s major offensive numbers (on a per-game basis) and rankings:
- Three of the top eight offenses in points scored
- Three of the top four offenses in points per drive; five of the league’s top-9 in points per drive
- Five of the top eight offenses in yards
- Three of the top six in limiting turnovers
In short, three of the very best offenses in the league (Dallas, Philadelphia and Kansas City) and two more that have better peripheral numbers (yards, points per drive, plays per point) than their overall points ranking shows.
Here’s how they look compared to each other:
- Kansas City ranks highest in yards and points despite running six fewer players per game than Philadelphia. This shows their quick-strike offense has been potent throughout the year.
- Atlanta ranks second in the league in yards per play showing they still possess a potent offense but have struggled turning yards into points.
- The Eagles rank second in points but only ninth in yards per play. Part of their recipe for success includes simply running more plays than opponents.
Offensive Drive Efficiency
In fact, on a per-drive basis all five teams rank among the NFL’s top-10. “DSR” represents Football Outsiders’ “Drive Success Rate” which is defined as “the percentage of down series that result in a first down or touchdown”:
- Atlanta, KC and Dallas rank 1st, 3rd and 4th in yards per drive; all five teams rank in the top 10
- KC, Dallas and Philadelphia rank 1st, 2nd and 4th in points per drive; all five teams rank in the top 9.
- Atlanta, Dallas and KC rank 2nd, 3rd and 4th in DSR rank; all five rank in the top 12.
All five teams also rank high using Football Outsiders’ “Defense-Adjusted Value Over Average” which attempts to measure each team’s overall effectiviness:
- Dallas, KC and Atlanta boast the three top rushing units in the league
- Kansas City ranks 1st overall, 1st in passing and 3rd in rushing.
- Dallas ranks 1st in rushing and 8th overall but only 13th in passing.
- All five teams rank in the league’s overall top 10.
- Only two units (the Philadelphia and Washington running games) are below average.
- Note how much higher Kansas City’s total DVOA is than 4th place Dallas.
Regardless of whether you use traditional points/yardage numbers, per-drive efficiency statistics or advanced statistical models these next four games feature five of the league’s best offenses facing off in what should be exciting contests.
These represent extreme challenges for the Dallas defense. Over the last few years the Dallas defense has been good against average or mediocre offenses (see the Giants, Cardinals and 49ers this year) while struggling mightily against quality offenses.
The good news is the Dallas offense will represent an equally strong challenge for each of these team’s defenses. We’ll look at those units in our next segment.
Below are the running and passing game metrics for each team. I’ll add a few comments but these are mostly for reference.
- Only Andy Reid could have a running game that ranks 1st in yards per attempt and 5th in overall rushing yards yet only 15th in rushing attempts.
- Kansas City is good at everything offensively. They run well; they pass well. They are top-5 in every major rushing and passing metric.
So, we understand the challenge: four games pitting a top-5 Cowboys’ offense against two other top-5 units and two more top-10 units. Points will be scored.