Dallas Cowboys analytics roundup: Looking pretty unstoppable right now
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More people watched the Cowboys throttle the Commanders on Thanksgiving than any other game since the Super Bowl, and what a game it was for America’s Team. Dak Prescott threw for 300+ yards again and DaRon Bland made history with his fifth pick-six of the year, a cherry on top of the 45-10 blowout sundae.

Getting a dominant win like that with so many eyeballs on them is good news for the Cowboys’ perceptions outside of the fan base. But does the sudden hype match their actual efficiency and team strength? That’s what the analytics roundup is here to discuss. So, without further ado, let’s get into some data.

Cowboys Efficiency at a Glance

DVOA DVOA Rank DVOA Rank Previous Rank Weighted DVOA Weighted DVOA Rank
DVOA DVOA Rank DVOA Rank Previous Rank Weighted DVOA Weighted DVOA Rank
Offense 9.1% 10th 10th 12.3% 8th
Defense -12.2% 3rd 3rd -12.3% 4th
Special Teams 1.9% 9th 8th 2.2% 8th
Overall 23.1% 4th 6th 26.8% 3rd

The Cowboys’ dominant win helped them jump up two spots in total team efficiency rankings. They took advantage of the Lions’ loss earlier in the day on Thanksgiving, but also completely leapfrogged the Bills, who stood pat at fifth place despite an overtime loss.

The Cowboys are also third in weighted DVOA, which offers a better picture of how the team is playing right now as opposed to the full season. The only NFC team ahead of them in both categories is the 49ers, which shouldn’t come as a shock.

2023 NFL Team Tiers, Weeks 1-12, courtesy of rbsdm.com

That’s pretty much the same story for the EPA-based team tiers, as the Cowboys are neck and neck with the 49ers for the top spot in the league. That not only bodes well for the Cowboys’ team strength, but it’s also worth noting that the 49ers face the Eagles this week, a team whose efficiency numbers are way below what their record indicates.

Offense

Cowboys Offensive Efficiency

Grade Rank
Grade Rank
Offensive DVOA 9.1% 10th
Pass DVOA 28.3% 7th
Run DVOA -9.0% 21st
EPA/Play 0.123 2nd
EPA/Dropback 0.228 2nd
EPA/Rush -0.051 11th

The offense continues to improve each week, becoming more and more efficient with every new snap they play. That’s a really good sign, as Dallas has been one of the most unstoppable offenses in the league lately. They’re second only to the 49ers in EPA/play, and 10th in offensive DVOA.

The reason for that discrepancy ultimately comes down to the fact that DVOA adjusts for quality of opponent. The Cowboys have been stellar this season, especially in the last month or so, but they haven’t faced the best defenses over that stretch. That’s going to ding them in the DVOA grade, but not enough to keep them out of the top 10, where they belong.

Dak Prescott’s Efficiency

Grade Rank
Grade Rank
QBR 75.3 2nd
EPA/play 0.260 2nd
CPOE 5.1 6th
DVOA 22.9% 6th
DYAR 888 7th

You might have noticed in the previous chart how the Cowboys’ passing game is leagues ahead of their run game, and that’s because this offense is thriving on the arm of Dak Prescott. The Cowboys quarterback is playing at an MVP level, and his odds for the award have surged to fourth-best in the NFL, per DraftKings.

That’s still too low, frankly. For the second week in a row, Prescott is the highest-graded quarterback for the season according to Pro Football Focus. He also leads the league in QBR since Week 6 by a comfortable margin. No quarterback is playing better football than Prescott right now.

Cowboys Offensive Line Efficiency

Grade Rank
Grade Rank
Pressure Rate 15.3% 4th
Adjusted Sack Rate 6.4% 8th
Blown Block Rate 2.42% 7th
Pass Block Win Rate 56% 17th
Run Block Win Rate 72% 6th
Adjusted Line Yards 4.33 12th

The offensive line has rebounded in a big way as it relates to pass protection. After their really rough performance against the Eagles, Prescott hasn’t been sacked once. Terence Steele specifically, who gave up 12 pressures to the Eagles, has just seven in the three games since, including zero allowed against Washington.

The offensive line has also been much better in the run game, seeing improvements each week in run block win rate and adjusted line yards. The Cowboys have also enjoyed better rushing results as well, with Tony Pollard averaging 4.67 yards per carry since the bye after previously averaging 3.85 yards per carry.

Defense

Cowboys Defensive Efficiency

Grade Rank
Grade Rank
Defensive DVOA -12.2% 3rd
Pass Defense DVOA -9.6% 6th
Run Defense DVOA -15.5% 9th
Pass Rush Win Rate 61% 1st
Run Stop Win Rate 30% 23rd
EPA/Play -0.141 3rd
EPA/Dropback Allowed -0.151 3rd
EPA/Rush Allowed -0.124 9th

The Cowboys pass rush was feasting against the Commanders, totaling 34 pressures on the day. That’s the most they’ve had in one game since their Week 1 dismantling of the Giants. However, it only resulted in five sacks, a fairly low conversion rate for this defense. That’s a credit to Sam Howell, the most sacked quarterback in the league, showing genuine growth in his pocket awareness.

Howell’s sudden knack for sack avoidance, and his above average scrambling ability, helped the Commanders extend quite a few offensive drives on the day. The Commanders averaged five yards per play and actually had more first downs than Dallas did. It didn’t matter in the end, but this was a reminder of the importance for this defense to convert those pressures to sacks, especially against more mobile quarterbacks. They’ll face a few of those down the stretch in Jalen Hurts, Josh Allen, and Tua Tagovailoa.

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 8 2 25.0% 1.0 15.9 6 20
Stephon Gilmore 56 28 50.0% 76.3 11.0 251 147
DaRon Bland 59 31 52.5% 36.9 11.2 251 102
Jourdan Lewis 38 28 73.7% 127.2 8.0 194 147
Jayron Kearse 23 20 87.0% 85.9 7.4 139 67
Malik Hooker 9 7 77.8% 118.8 11.1 78 76
Donovan Wilson 16 12 75.0% 131.8 5.3 30 76
Juanyeh Thomas 11 7 63.6% 107.0 3.5 5 52
Leighton Vander Esch 7 5 71.4% 87.2 0.4 -1 44
Markquese Bell 29 21 72.4% 86.1 1.2 9 156
Damone Clark 23 19 82.6% 87.9 0.1 -18 135

Jim Nantz said it best: “There it is! This is history!” What DaRon Bland did on Thursday was truly special. He snagged a record fifth pick-six on the year, breaking a record that stood since 1993. More impressive is that Bland did this in his 11th game of the season, erasing any criticism about doing this in a 17-game season.

Ironically, Bland’s historic day saved what was otherwise one of the worst games of his very young career. He finished the day giving up nine completions on a game high 12 targets, with six of those receptions going for a first down. It served as a reminder that Bland isn’t a shutdown corner, but if you throw his way enough times he will absolutely make you pay.





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