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Advanced Stats: Cowboys could have redzone success against Jags, but third downs will be a tall order

Looking deep into the advantages for the Cowboys and Jaguars in Sunday’s game.

Jacksonville Jaguars v Dallas Cowboys Photo by Alan Crowhurst/Getty Images

Everybody knows that the Jacksonville Jaguars have one of the best defenses in the NFL.

This is going to be a challenge for the Cowboys as they look to keep picking up a win for every loss this season. Their hands are going to be full with a Jacksonville unit that is loaded at all three levels.

It goes beyond the simple fact that the Jags defense is good, though. Yes, they’re extremely talented, but where are they talented. Thankfully for us we have Bill Connelly’s methodology at SB Nation to pull from.

RED ZONE: The advantage could belong to Dallas shockingly

To start things off we need to talk about scoring points since that’s kind of the point of offense in general. I think, I’ve been watching the Cowboys so I’m unsure.

There are explanations as to what each statistic outlined here is and how it’s measured, they’re all over at Connelly’s stat page which is definitely worth your time. Most of them are self-explanatory and in terms of the colors, the more blue you are the better, the more orange you are the opposite. You can also look at the Jaguars offense versus the Cowboys defense (or any combination of two teams across the league), but obviously we’re looking at Jacksonville’s defensive side of the ball versus the Cowboys offense since it’s their strength and our Achilles heel.

(Cowboys are the left column, Jaguars are the right)

The thing that jumps out right away is goal line success rate. Connelly outlines as follows:

An efficiency measure that deems each snap that takes place inside the opponent’s 3 as successful or unsuccessful. The terms: gaining 50 percent of necessary yardage on first down, 70 percent on second down, and 100 percent on third and fourth down.

The Cowboys are very good at this when they get in the red zone, in fact they’re actually the best in the NFL at it. Jacksonville is near the back end of the league as they are obviously allowing the necessary yardage to be picked up on respective downs in that part of the field.

This information is obviously very frustrating given the fact that Jason Garrett didn’t go for it on 4th and 1 in Houston last week, but what it suggests is that the Cowboys are great at picking up short yardage. If Dallas gets an opportunity to knock on the door against the Jags then odds are they’re going to break through it.

THIRD DOWN: Jacksonville is very good at this

While the Cowboys have a shot at capitalizing if they get inside the Jacksonville 3-yard line (all they have to do is cover 97 yards, no big deal) they’ll likely have to face some third downs in order to do so. Jacksonville doesn’t like to let people past them on third down.

(Cowboys are the left column, Jaguars are the right)

That’s a whole lot of orange and orange-ish colors on the Cowboys side of things, and almost a totally blue side for the Jaguars. Gulp.

Dallas is 17/60 on third downs for the season, but what’s strange is where they are the worst is in the third-and-short category of all places. Here’s how Connelly defines that.

Percentage of a team’s third-and-short (one yard to go) snaps that resulted in a first down.

It’s actually wild to believe that the Cowboys are statistically more successful at converting 3rd and 1+ than they are at converting 3rd and 1, but it makes sense given how the season has gone. What’s more is not only are the Cowboys not so good at this, but the Jaguars are generally solid at holding opponents. The Cowboys will have to overcome great odds here.

BLITZ DOWNS: The Jaguars are going to send pressure, and it normally works

Jacksonville is not only very good at every level of their defense, they’re also very fast. It’s hard to beat speed no matter where it is on a football field.

Dallas has had trouble moving the ball in general this season so it’s likely not going to bode well if Dak Prescott has pressure in his face when having to do so. Look at where things stack up.

(Cowboys are the left column, Jaguars are the right)

The way that blitz downs success rate is defined isn’t going to make you feel much better, but for the purposes of the exercise let’s have at it.

An efficiency measure that deems each snap that takes place on a blitz down. The terms: gaining 50 percent of necessary yardage on first down, 70 percent on second down, and 100 percent on third and fourth down.

When blitzes happen the Cowboys are the worst at getting what they want/need. Meanwhile the Jaguars are the second-best in the NFL at it. You can bet your bottom dollar that they’re going to be turning the heat up because of this.

The Cowboys offensive line has definitely had better seasons than they’re currently having, but they’re still playing like one of the better units in the NFL. This game is going to demand everything they’ve got because they’re going to have to stop the Jaguars and stop them rather quickly or things could get ugly.

There are plenty of other statistics to play around with, these are just a few that we thought stood out. Once again I’d encourage you to check out Bill Connelly’s methodology and since I’m a nice guy you don’t even have to scroll all the way back up. Just click right here.

Did this information change the way that you felt entering Sunday afternoon? Are you more or less confident in any one particular element of what’s to come?

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