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2022 Cowboys analytics roundup: Dallas emerging as one of the top teams in NFL

The Cowboys are in position for a strong finish to the 2022 season.

New York Giants v Dallas Cowboys Photo by Richard Rodriguez/Getty Images

The Cowboys are riding another winning streak after beating the Giants on Thanksgiving, and the odds remain in their favor going into their next game. After taking a break the last week due to the Cowboys playing on a short week, the analytics roundup is back! And spoiler alert: things are looking good.

As a reminder, all DVOA-related metrics here are now operating a 100% strength of schedule adjustment, meaning that the Cowboys’ DVOA grades all account for the quality of opponent they’ve faced. Additionally, weighted DVOA offers a glimpse at how well each team has been playing most recently. With that in mind, let’s take a look at how the Cowboys stack up.

Cowboys Efficiency at a Glance

DVOA DVOA Rank DVOA Rank Previous Week Weighted DVOA Weighted DVOA Rank
DVOA DVOA Rank DVOA Rank Previous Week Weighted DVOA Weighted DVOA Rank
Offense 4.2% 15th 14th 6.0% 12th
Defense -17.8% 1st 2nd -17.1% 2nd
Special Teams 4.0% 4th 2nd 4.3% 5th
Overall 26.0% 4th 2nd 27.4% 2nd

The headline here is that the Cowboys are fourth in total DVOA, and they’re second in weighted DVOA. Only the Bills rank higher in the latter, which means that the Cowboys have been playing like the best team in the NFC lately. Given that they’ve dropped two different 40 burgers and won four of their last five games by a combined score of 169-89, that isn’t surprising.

Not only have the Cowboys played great as of late, but they’re about to hit a sweet spot schedule-wise. Their remaining six games feature all four teams from a pretty bad AFC South division on top of division rivals in the Eagles and Commanders. Only two of those teams are even in the top half of the league in total DVOA, and none rank ahead of the Cowboys in weighted DVOA.

2022 NFL Team Tiers, Weeks 1-12, courtesy of

Looking at the EPA-based tiers, which don’t account for strength of schedule, and it’s a similar assessment. The Cowboys are sitting in the second tier right now, almost exactly on par with the 49ers. Those have been following along closely know that the star logo has been gradually drifting to the right ever since Dak Prescott returned, a testament to how much better he’s made this offense. Out of curiosity, let’s look at the team tiers just from when Prescott returned.

2022 NFL Team Tiers, Weeks 7-12, courtesy of

Similar to the Cowboys’ high weighted DVOA rank, they’re fourth in total EPA per play since Prescott came back from injury. Dallas is also fourth in offensive EPA/play in that span; they were 25th in that category before he returned. It’s safe to say that Prescott has made a world of difference to this team.


Cowboys Offensive Efficiency

Grade Rank
Grade Rank
Offensive DVOA 4.2% 15th
Pass DVOA 13.2% 16th
Run DVOA 7.1% 6th

The Cowboys offense is gradually rounding into form now that Prescott is back. They’re still not quite at the level they were a year ago, but they’re getting there. Currently sitting at 15th in offensive DVOA and 12th in weighted offensive DVOA, this offense is making improvements. The biggest thing hurting them right now is turnovers: they’ve turned it over six times in their last five games, which seriously damages their efficiency.

Something else to watch is how the run game rebounds against the Colts this week. Dallas has been one of the most efficient rushing offenses all year, but they struggled mightily against a pretty mediocre Giants defense. Maybe we can chalk this up to the side effects of playing a game just four days after their last game, but it’s worth monitoring.

Dak Prescott’s Efficiency

Grade Rank
Grade Rank
QBR 61.9 6th
EPA/play 0.240 4th
CPOE 2.5 7th
DVOA 16.9% 4th
DYAR 347 15th

We had been limiting our analysis of Prescott’s efficiency to the games played since his return for sample size reasons, but he’s now played enough to have his full body of work this season compared across the league. That’s what we’re seeing here, and it’s pretty encouraging.

It’s worth noting that DYAR - which measures a quarterback’s total value - is cumulative rather than functioning as a rate-based metric, so Prescott’s standing there is somewhat impacted by his lack of games played. If we were to look at each quarterback’s DYAR per dropback (which is an admittedly flawed method, but it offers a decent overview) then Prescott would rank fourth among all quarterbacks, which is identical to his DVOA rank.

Cowboys Offensive Line Efficiency

Grade Rank
Grade Rank
Adjusted Line Yards 4.65 7th
RB Yards 4.77 7th
Adjusted Sack Rate 4.9% 4th
Pass Block Win Rate 46% 32nd
Run Block Win Rate 73% 6th

The Cowboys’ offensive line had an uncharacteristically poor performance against the Giants, struggling to open up holes in the run game and also looking porous in pass protection. In fact, every starter on the line allowed at least one pressure in the game. Rookie Tyler Smith gave up seven pressures and now leads the team in sacks, quarterback hits, hurries, and pressures. It’s safe to say that Tyron Smith is (soon to be) returning at the perfect time.

Despite all these pressures, though, Prescott wasn’t sacked once all game. That’s now two consecutive games he’s gone without a sack, and it’s a big reason why the Cowboys have the fourth lowest adjusted sack rate despite also ranking dead last in pass block win rate.


Cowboys Defensive Efficiency

Grade Rank
Grade Rank
Defensive DVOA -17.8% 1st
Pass Defense DVOA -21.7% 1st
Run Defense DVOA -13.2% 10th
Pass Rush Win Rate 51% 3rd
Run Stop Win Rate 28% 29th

This just in: the Cowboys defense is good. They’re not just good, they’re great. Dallas ranks first in total and pass defense DVOA, and they sit at 10th in run defense DVOA after holding Saquon Barkley to just 39 yards on 11 carries.

Micah Parsons has since fallen from the top of the pass rush win rate leaderboard and is now in a three-way tie for second place. He’s also third in pressures and second in sacks despite playing nearly 20 less pass rush reps than any of the names ahead of him. He’s still dominating offensive lines and the Defensive Player of the Year race, and this Dallas defense goes as he does.

Cowboys Pass Coverage

Targets Completions Completion Rate Passer Rating Allowed ADOT When Targeted Air Yards Allowed Yards After Catch
Targets Completions Completion Rate Passer Rating Allowed ADOT When Targeted Air Yards Allowed Yards After Catch
Trevon Diggs 58 38 65.5% 81.2 10.2 224 258
Anthony Brown 79 43 54.4% 91.6 11.7 360 157
Jourdan Lewis 26 19 73.1% 74.2 6.2 51 119
DaRon Bland 27 23 85.2% 111.0 6.6 93 134
Jayron Kearse 18 13 72.2% 100.2 6.4 97 67
Malik Hooker 16 13 81.3% 117.2 8.2 81 61
Donovan Wilson 29 17 58.6% 64.0 9.0 49 62
Israel Mukuamu 8 6 75.0% 87.5 3.0 14 30
Micah Parsons 10 8 80.0% 134.2 0.7 -7 89
Leighton Vander Esch 27 22 81.5% 94.9 4.1 76 107
Anthony Barr 17 13 76.5% 87.6 3.8 35 54

There are two interesting notes on the Cowboys’ pass coverage numbers. First is that Anthony Brown has clearly become the favorite target of all opposing quarterbacks, leading the defense in targets each of the last two games. To Brown’s credit, he’s got the lowest completion rate allowed of any Cowboys cornerback, but he’s often giving up completions on the deepest of throws. He’ll need to clean that up going forward.

The second note of intrigue is rookie DaRon Bland, who has taken over starting slot corner duties since Jourdan Lewis was lost for the year to injuries. Bland has played 66 less snaps than Lewis but already has been targeted more than his teammate. That’s not a big surprise, but Bland is also allowing a sky high completion rate when targeted. To be fair, Bland has done a solid job at limiting yards after the catch - with the vast majority of his total YAC allowed coming on one play against the Packers - but the next step for Bland is breaking up some of these passes.

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