The Cowboys offense seems to have found its mojo over the last four games. They are averaging 31.5 points per game, and pulled that off against teams that are a combined 10-6 today, quite an impressive feat. Those 31.5 points per game rank them fourth overall in the league, and they rank an equally impressive third overall in total yards per game (420.8).
If you divide the offensive yards gained by points scored, you get a metric called Yards Per Point (YPP). YPP measures how easy it is for a team to score points by looking at how many yards the offense needs to gain to score a point. On the defensive side, YPP is an indication for how hard a defense makes it for its opponent to score, as it calculates how many yards the defense gives up for each point scored. Ideally, the number on offense is as low as possible (your team scores with ease) while you want the defensive number to be as high as possible (your opponent has to work really hard to score points).
On offense, the Cowboys rank sixth in the league with a YPP of 13.4 which isn’t too far behind the league-leading Saints (11.8), Bills (12.1), Cardinals (12.6), Chiefs (12.8), and Bucs (13.1). And even the defense looks good in this metric. Their YPP of 16.3 ranks them 10th in the league.
Some in the stat community get all high and mighty when talk turns to YPP, and like to point out its inadequacies as a metric, and there are many. Despite that, what we’re going to do today is look at one of the more common uses for YPP: a quick-and-dirty way to predict scores.
One method popular with some bettors is known as the “Dudley Method” which uses the YPP of the last four games played to predict a score for the upcoming game. What this method does is take the average yards allowed over the last four games and divide those by the opponent’s YPP to arrive at a predicted score. And since the league has played exactly four games so far, we’ll use the Dudley Method to predict the score for Sunday’s Giants at Cowboys game, and we’ll do it using the 2021 season stats for both teams.
So far this season, the Giants have allowed an average of 382 yards per game. The Cowboys’ YPP value on offense for the last four games is 13.4. Divide New York’s 382 yards allowed per game by Dallas’ 13.4 YPP and you get a predicted score for the Cowboys of 28.5 points.
And here’s how much the Giants are projected to score by this method: The Cowboys have given up 396 yards per game over the last four games, while the Giants offense has a YPP of 18.5. Do the math and you get a predicted score of 21.4 points for the Giants.
So there you have it. The Cowboys beat the Giants 29-21 on Sunday.
Wondering what Vegas has as the current point spread and points total? Cowboys -7 and 52.5 combined points. That’s surprisingly close to the YPP projection.
But can the Giants really hold the Cowboys below 30 points? That 29 point projection is certainly cutting it awfully close.
There are hundreds of different methods to predict the outcome of NFL games, the charm of the YPP-based approach is that it can be done fairly easily. But whether that will match the outcome of Sunday’s game is anybody’s guess.
How are you feeling about the Cowboys’ chances on Sunday?
As we do every week we simulated this week’s Dallas Cowboys game against the New York Giants on Madden to see how it sees things shaking out. You can watch it below.
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