The Dallas Cowboys are going to be playing a playoff game against the San Francisco 49ers on Sunday, just one day shy of the 29th anniversary of beating them in the 1992 NFC Championship Game. It was that victory at Candlestick which launched a dynasty for Dallas, one that the team has had trouble coming anywhere close to for over a quarter century. Our collective hope is that the drought comes to an end this year as the team is certainly positioned to have some sort of postseason success.
While we are all nervous, the facts are what they are at this point. The Cowboys are an incredible statistical team by a lot of metrics, ones that apply to both the offense and defense. Football is easiest when you are elite at everything and the Cowboys have had that sort of fortune throughout this season. Being frank, they are one of the most successful teams in an overall sense that the franchise has put out since the 1990s.
We took a look at how the Cowboys fared by Offensive EPA/Play and Defensive EPA/Play Allowed, and while we are looking at rankings which has to do with the field in a given season, there is no question that this is the most well-rounded Cowboys team to enter the tournament this century.
As you can see some of our favorite teams (2007, 2014, 2016) all had higher levels of offensive success (again remembering that we are using EPA/Play to define success here) than this season, heck even a non-playoff unit like 2019 did as well.
But where things are dramatically different here in the 2021 season is that the Cowboys defense is able to have its own success independent of the offense. This is literally the highest-ranked Dallas defense by Defensive EPA/Play Allowed to enter the playoffs since the 1990s.
The playoffs are where chaos happens and it is imperative to remember that nothing is guaranteed; however, these Cowboys appear to be a bit more ready for anything than any Cowboys team of old.