We are just about halfway through this Dallas Cowboys season (not quite, but almost) and if there is one thing that we have learned/had reinforced to this point it’s that this team’s offense is elite. What has been the surprise this season has been how this team has succeeded defensively, especially given how porous they were just a year ago.
For what feels like decades we have pined for a solid defense and noted that if the Cowboys were just “average” there that this team could reach serious potential. Well, my friends, the Dallas Cowboys defense is not average, they are very good, and that is what is making this year a little bit different.
Looking at the Dallas Cowboys remaining schedule by offensive and defensive EPA disparity at Week 9
Success on offense is not foreign to this team, or to this group, so seeing it happen again here in 2021 provides confidence it will continue. Kellen Moore’s growth as an offensive coordinator is helping the unit see higher highs.
Much of the reason for the Cowboys’ success on defense this year has been the frequency with which they have been able to generate turnovers. Interestingly, after the first two weeks of the season, we ran a study and noted that history showed how they should average at least two turnovers per game the rest of the season.
Amazingly over the next four weeks the Cowboys had precisely two turnovers per game, until last week in Minnesota when they lost the turnover battle by a margin of -2. When you are down in turnover differential that badly you generally lose the game, but the Cowboys defense rose to the occasion and was a huge reason for win number six in a row.
Just like we have been doing every week here at BTB, here is the Week 8 edition, we are examining this team’s remaining schedule through the lens of Offensive EPA/Play and Defensive EPA/Play Allowed and at Week 9 it is finally safe to believe the Dallas Cowboys defense is good.
We are comparing colors to colors here. A breakdown:
- The dotted grey line represents the stability of the Cowboys offense where the solid grey line represents the stability of opposing defenses. As you can see the solid grey line only breaks the dotted one (upwards) once which is how we know that Dallas has the advantage for most of their remaining games at the present time.
- The dotted blue line represents the stability of the Cowboys defense where the solid blue line represents the stability of opposing offenses. Any time where the solid blue line is below the dotted blue line is where the Cowboys defense has an advantage which includes most of their remaining opponents.
Only one defense remaining on the schedule (at present time) should be a theoretical challenge to the Cowboys offense and that is the Arizona Cardinals. It doesn’t take any in-depth analysis to know that Dallas’ game against Arizona is going to be massive as far as playoff implications are concerned, but they are clearly a force at present time despite their first loss of the season last week.
But it is the Cowboys defense that deserves our attention. They are the unit that improved this week and only look to be “challenged” between now and the playoffs in a serious sense by the Kansas City Chiefs (which is its own unique team at the moment) and the aforementioned Arizona Cardinals.
Now to be fair, the Denver Broncos technically have an advantage on offense against the Cowboys, but it is marginal. Ultimately things are looking very up for Dallas long-term.
- Dallas Cowboys Offensive EPA/Play: .132
- Average Remaining Opponent Defensive EPA/Play Allowed: .042
- Dallas Cowboys Defensive EPA/Play Allowed: -.056 (negative is better)
- Average Remaining Opponent Offensive EPA/Play: .036
While Denver’s offense is technically worthy of a bit more respect than your average fan might give it, the reality is that they are simply not that great of an offense. We will likely see the Cowboys’ Defensive EPA/Play make a nice jump between them and the Atlanta Falcons over the next couple of weeks.
Get ready for the ride.