Cowboys Drop Two Spots in Stat-Based Power Rankings

This is the second week we will look at how the Cowboys rank in the stat-based power rankings. These rankings are fairly simple and are based on the following:

(1) Total offense (33.33%)
(2) Total defense (33.33%)
(3) Turnover ratio (16.67%)
(4) Point differential (16.67%)

Last week, the Cowboys ranked #11 thanks to a strong #3 ranking on offense. Dallas fell to fourth on offense after the loss to the Broncos, and the Cowboys also lost ground on turnover ratio (-1 vs. Denver) and point differential (-7 thanks to the loss).

1. N.Y. Giants (4-0). 175 points (no change). Last week: #1
2. New Orleans (4-0). 174 points (+3). Last week: #4
3. Denver (4-0). 173 points (no change). Last week: #2
4. Baltimore (3-1). 163 points (-9). Last week: #3
5. Philadelphia (2-1). 161 points (+5). Last week: #5
6. Indianapolis (4-0). 157 points (+10). Last week: #7
7. New England (3-1). 147 points (-5). Last week: #6
8. Pittsburgh (2-2). 131 points (+20). Last week: #13
9. Green Bay (2-2). 128 points (+23). Last week: #15
10. Minnesota (4-0). 127 points (-18). Last week: #8
11. San Francisco (3-1). 123 points (+27). Last week: #17
12. New York Jets (3-1). 114 points (-27). Last week: #9
13. Dallas (2-2). 109 points (-7). Last week: #11
14(t). Jacksonville (2-2). 101 points (+14). Last week: #19
14(t). Miami (1-3). 101 points (+31). Last week: #24
16. Chicago (3-1). 100 points (+3). Last week: #16
17. San Diego (2-2). 96 points (-33). Last week: #10
18. Washington (2-2). 95 points (-11). Last week: #14
19. Seattle (1-3). 89 points (-27). Last week: #12
20. Cincinnati (3-1). 88 points (+9). Last week: #22
21. Arizona (1-2). 85 points (+1). Last week: #20
22. Tennessee (0-4). 85 points (-5). Last week: #18
23. Houston (2-2). 84 points (+19). Last week: #25
24. Detroit (1-3). 65 points (+18). Last week: #28
25. Atlanta (2-1). 63 points (-19). Last week: #21
26. Oakland (1-3). 53 points (+3). Last week: #27
27. St. Louis (0-4). 42 points (+5). Last week: #31
28. Buffalo (1-3). 41 points (-32). Last week: #23
29. Carolina (0-3). 40 points (-2). Last week: #29
30. Tampa Bay (0-4). 39 points (-1). Last week: #30
31. Kansas City (0-4). 36 points (-14). Last week: #26
32. Cleveland (0-4). 14 points (+3). Last week: #32

A few notes:

9. Green Bay: The Packers might have lost the Vikings, but Green Bay outgained the Vikings by 90 yards. Green Bay thus moved up from 22nd to 13th in total offense, which allowed the Packers to move up in the rankings despite the loss.

10. Minnesota: The Vikings won but lost ground thanks to giving up more than 400 yards on defense.

Biggest gain : Miami (10 spots and 31 ranking points). The Dolphins helped themselves by holding Buffalo to 206 yards of offense.  The turnover ratio in the game was +3 in Miami’s favor, and it helped that Miami won by 28 points. All of this was enough to propel the Dolphins to the highest spot among 1-3 teams.

Second biggest gain:  San Francisco (6 spots and 27 ranking points).  The 49ers weren’t great on offense, but the team held St. Louis to just 177 total yards. The Rams also turned the ball over three times, compared with no turnovers by the 49ers.

Biggest drop: San Diego (7 spots and 33 ranking points).  After giving up 497 yards to the Steelers, the Chargers fell from 14th in the league on defense to 24th.

Second biggest drop:  Buffalo (5 spots and 32 ranking points).  The Bills had respectable numbers before the loss to the Dolphins, but managing only 206 yards and committing three turnovers hurts in this ranking system.

Cowboys (#13) vs. Chiefs (#31)

The Cowboys currently rank fourth in total offense but only 26th in total defense. With a turnover ratio of -2, Dallas ranks 19th. The Cowboys’ point differential is +10.

The Chiefs have struggled this season, scoring more than 20 points just once. Kansas City is even in turnover ratio, which is one of the team’s best stats. Kansas City currently ranks 31st in total offense and 28th in total defense.

Elsewhere…

DVOA:  In the far more sophisticated poll, Dallas ranks 12th by Football Outsiders. The Chiefs rank 26th.

ESPN: Dallas ranks 17th.

Apparently, the Cowboys got confused. Jerry Jones called them “champs,”
but Tony Romo interpreted it by throwing toward Champ Bailey. (Clayton)

50 Seasons Series: "No! No! No, Danny, No!"

Part of the 50 Seasons Series.

The 1983 Cowboys entered into their week 15 matchup with the Washington Redskins with a 12-2 record. One win and the Cowboys would set a club record for wins in a season. One win and the Cowboys would wrap up the NFC East. One win and perhaps Danny White would get another shot at making the Super Bowl.

Dallas trailed 14-10 in the third quarter and faced a 4th-and-1 from midfield. Dallas lined up, obviously trying to pull the Redskins offsides. At some point during the snap count, though, Danny White decided to audible into a running play. He handed the ball off to Ron Springs, who ran left. Washington defensive end Charles Mann crashed the right side of the line, and guard Herbert Scott could not block him. Springs lost two yards, and the Cowboys lost momentum they had gained since coming back from an early 14-0 deficit.

The video clearly shows an angry Tom Landry screaming, “No! No! No, Danny, No!”

Though the Redskins did not score immediately, the tide had turned. Later in the third quarter, Joe Theismann hit Art Monk on a 47-yard touchdown pass, and the game turned into a blowout. The Cowboys could not even stop the Redskins from performing the “fun bunch” celebration after the Monk score.

Dallas managed only 33 rushing yards, setting a team mark for futility on the ground. Although the Cowboys could still win the NFC East the following week by hoping for a New York win over Washington coupled with a Dallas win over San Francisco, the prospects for a Super Bowl run looked bleak.

Redskins Beat Up Cowboys, 31-10

Box Score

Relative Value Rankings After Week 4

After such a disappointing loss, it is a little bit hard to acknowledge players who contributed in positive ways. Nevertheless, here we go.

Thanks to those who voted in last week’s poll. We had a total of 81 votes, several more than the previous week.

Marvin White was ranked #42 in the previous review, but he was released last week to make room for running back Chauncey Washington. The Cowboys this week waived Washington, but Detroit signed White before the Cowboys could resign him. The Cowboys signed former Charger Cletis Gordon, who played under Wade Phillips as a rookie in 2006.

Rookie LB Jason Williams saw action for the first time in 2009.
 
53. Cletis Gordon, CB

Last week: n/a

Dallas just signed Gordon, so he gets the last spot. He is supposed to play on special teams next week.

52. Duke Preston, C

Last week: 53

Poll rating: n/a

vs. Denver: Inactive. Preston has not been active all year.

51. Pat McQuistan, T

Last week: 52

Poll rating: n/a

vs. Denver: Inactive. McQuistan has not been active all year.

50. Montrae Holland, G

Last week: 51

Poll rating: n/a

vs. Denver: Inactive. Holland has not been active all year.

49. Stephen McGee, QB

Last week: 50

Poll rating: n/a

vs. Denver: Third quarterback. McGee has not played in 2009.

48. Michael Hamlin, S

Last week: 48

Poll rating: n/a

vs. Denver: Inactive. Hamlin has not played in 2009 due to injury.

47. Kevin Ogletree, WR

Last week: 47

Poll rating: n/a

vs. Denver: Inactive. Ogletree has not been active all year.

46. Curtis Johnson, LB

Last week: 45

Poll rating: 1.72

vs. Denver: Johnson was inactive against the Broncos after playing in the first three games.

45. Cory Procter, C/G

Last week: 46

Poll rating: n/a

vs. Denver: Procter played on special teams against the Broncos. He might see action against the Chiefs because of an injury to Andre Gurode.

44. Jason Williams, LB

Last week: 49

Poll rating: n/a

vs. Denver: Williams was active for the first time in 2009. He recorded a tackle on special teams.

43. Doug Free, T

Last week: 43

Poll rating: 1.80

vs. Denver: Free played on special teams against Denver.

42. John Phillips, TE

Last week: 44

Poll rating: 1.90

vs. Denver: Phillips again saw action as the third tight end in several packages.

41. Jon Kitna, QB

Last week: 40

Poll rating: 2.25

vs. Denver: There have been a few more suggestions about Kitna replacing Tony Romo as the team’s bus driver. Not going there…

40. Steve Octavien, LB

Last week: 37

Poll rating: 1.92

vs. Denver: Octavien played on special teams but did not record a tackle.

39. Bobby Carpenter, LB

Last week: 34

Poll rating: 1.61

vs. Denver: Carpenter recorded one special teams tackle. He still plays as a nickel linebacker, but he hasn’t been impressive.

38. L.P. Ladouceur, LS

Last week: 41

Poll rating: 3.22

vs. Denver: The Cowboys only kicked twice–once on a field goal and once on an extra point. Ladouceur saw quite a bit of action on punts, though, and seemed to do a great job again.

37. David Buehler, K

Last week: 39

Poll rating: 3.92

vs. Denver: Two of Buehler’s kickoffs went into the end zone, with one being downed for a touchback.

36. Alan Ball, CB

Last week: 36

Poll rating: 2.25

vs. Denver: Ball recorded one special teams tackle against the Broncos. He will likely play some safety while Gerald Sensabaugh is injured.

35. Junior Siavii, DT

Last week: 32

Poll rating: 2.24

vs. Denver: Siavii recorded one tackle against the Broncos.

34. Jason Hatcher, DE

Last week: 31

Poll rating: 2.61

vs. Denver: Hatcher played against Denver but did not record a tackle. For the season, he has a total of one tackle.

33. Pat Watkins, S

Last week: 38

Poll rating: 2.24

vs. Denver: Watkins recorded five tackles with one assist after replacing Gerald Sensabaugh. With Sensabaugh likely out two to four weeks, Watkins will see much more action.

32. Stephen Bowen, DE

Last week: 33

Poll rating: 2.43

vs. Denver: Bowen recorded his first sack of the season against the Broncos.

31. Miles Austin, WR

Last week: 30

Poll rating: 2.58

vs. Denver: Austin caught three passes for 19 yards against Denver. He has only five receptions all year.

30. Ken Hamlin, S

Last week: 27

Poll rating: 2.59

vs. Denver: Hamlin is simply missing far too many tackles. He should have been able to bring down Brandon Marshall on Marshall’s game-winning touchdown. Instead, Hamlin looked like he was playing two-hand touch. Terrible.

29. Victor Butler, LB

Last week: 25

Poll rating: 3.59

vs. Denver: After his two-sack performance against Carolina, Butler failed to record a tackle against Denver.

28. Anthony Spencer, LB

Last week: 24

Poll rating: 2.55

vs. Denver: If we could reward players for almost making plays, Spencer would be a Pro Bowler. Instead, he nearly gets sacks and nearly gets interceptions but never quite gets there.

27. Gerald Sensabaugh, S

Last week: 23

Poll rating: 3.15

vs. Denver: Sensabaugh had one tackle before leaving the game with an broken thumb. He will likely miss two to four weeks.

26. Orlando Scandrick, CB

Last week: 29

Poll rating: 2.82

vs. Denver: Scandrick recorded three tackles, including a key third-down tackle that forced Denver to kick a field goal

25. Deon Anderson, FB

Last week: 28

Poll rating: 3.00

vs. Denver: Anderson is solid as a blocker and as a special teams player. He isn’t asked to do much more in the offense.

24. Sam Hurd, WR

Last week: 35

Poll rating: 1.90

vs. Denver: Hurd made the play of the game when he caught a 53-yard pass on a fourth-down play late in the game. Hurd led the Cowboys with three receptions for 62 yards, but he probably should not have been the go-to guy on the final two plays of the game.

23. Martellus Bennett, TE

Last week: 19

Poll rating: 2.85

vs. Denver: Bennett may have talent, but he has not made plays. He has four receptions for 40 yards, and I have not seen anything about his blocking that is terribly impressive. He was called for a holding penalty that negated a long Tashard Choice run.

22. Mike Jenkins, CB

Last week: 26

Poll rating: 3.48

vs. Denver: Jenkins was solid all game against the Broncos. He secured his place as the second corner.

21. Nick Folk, K

Last week: 22

Poll rating: 3.76

vs. Denver: Folk made a 49-yard field goal to open the scoring against Denver.

20. Marc Columbo, T

Last week: 18

Poll rating: 3.65

vs. Denver: Denver did not appear to get much of a rush from the ri
ght side of the Cowboys’ l
ine, which bodes well for Columbo.

19. Igor Olshansky, DE

Last week: 17

Poll rating: 3.60

vs. Denver: Olshansky had two tackles and an assist against Denver. He has been good at times but has not stood out.

18. Patrick Crayton, WR

Last week: 14

Poll rating: 3.29

vs. Denver: Crayton nearly had the play of the game when he picked up a punt and appeared to run it in for a score. The play was called a touchback, and the rest of Crayton’s game was average: 3 rec., 16 yds.

17. Flozell Adams, T

Last week: 13

Poll rating: 3.68

vs. Denver: Adams was beaten on at least three plays in the first half. This was his weakest game.

16. Mat McBriar, P

Last week: 21

Poll rating: 4.43

vs. Denver: Three of McBriar’s six punts landed inside the 20. His average is not overly impressive, but he is proving that he is a weapon.

15. Marcus Spears, DE

Last week: 20

Poll rating: 2.87

vs. Denver: Spears recorded a sack, two tackles, and an assist. This was one of Spears’ most active games.

14. Tashard Choice, RB

Last week: 15

Poll rating: 4.30

vs. Denver: Choice still looks quick and had a good game against Denver. He should have had more than 33 rushing yards.

13. Tony Romo, QB

Last week: 10

Poll rating: 3.69

vs. Denver: Romo is testing most fans’ patience. He missed throws, and he looked like someone with a complete lack of confidence. Not good for a franchise quarterback.

12. Roy Williams, WR

Last week: 12

Poll rating: 3.34

vs. Denver: Williams made a couple of fine plays against the Broncos. He was also injured trying to bring in a high pass from Romo. Just for that, he gets to move up a spot ahead of Romo this week.

11. Felix Jones, RB

Last week: 4

Poll rating: 4.43

vs. Denver: Did not play due to injury. Jones is very talented, but being fragile does not help his relative value ranking.

10. Terence Newman, CB

Last week: 8

Poll rating: 3.73

vs. Denver: Newman recorded three tackles and recorded one pass defense. It was the play he didn’t make that most noticed. Being in the right place against Brandon Marshall wasn’t enough. He somehow missed the ball and then half-assed it when chasing Marshall.

9. Keith Brooking, LB

Last week: 16

Poll rating: 3.79

vs. Denver: Brooking plays hard every play and always seems to be near the ball. He recorded nine tackles against Denver.

8. Bradie James, LB

Last week: 11

Poll rating: 3.81

vs. Denver: James recorded six tackles and two assists with his first sack of the season. He also recovered a fumble early in the second half.

7. Jay Ratliff, NT

Last week: 9

Poll rating: 4.61

vs. Denver: Ratliff did not record a tackle, but he disrupted the middle of the Denver line on several plays.

6. Leonard Davis, G

Last week: 7

Poll rating:

vs. Denver: Davis was called for a holding penalty. He was otherwise pretty solid.

5. Andre Gurode, C

Last week: 5

Poll rating: 4.38

vs. Denver: Gurode was called for a tripping penalty just before Romo fumbled on a sack in the second quarter. Gurode was apparently injured in the game.

4. Kyle Kosier, G

Last week: 6

Poll rating: 4.41

vs. Denver: Unlike most of the other linemen, Kosier is not being called for penalties. He has been solid all season.

3. DeMarcus Ware, LB

Last week: 2

Poll rating: 4.23

vs. Denver: Ware is not making plays, and it is not because he is being double-teamed all of the time. Several times on Sunday, Ware was handled by one tackle. He still has not recorded a sack, though he had two tackles and two assists.

2. Marion Barber, RB

Last week: 3

Poll rating: 4.27

vs. Denver: Barber only had 41 rushing yards and 27 receiving yards, but he gave everything he had. If he could remain healthy, he would likely take the #1 spot.

1. Jason Witten, TE

Last week: 1

Poll rating: 4.79

vs. Denver: Witten only managed four receptions for 31 yards. He was used as a blocker at the end of the game, which makes no sense at all.

Poll

Please take a moment to vote in this week’s poll.

 

Cowboys Regress Badly in Terms of Defensive Stats

Once the Cowboys fire Wade Phillips, he will not serve as an NFL head coach again. His legacy: mediocrity, as noted in yesterday’s post. This is his third stint as a full-time coach, and in each instance, his teams showed some promise early only to fail to meet expectations, leading to Phillips’ termination. His record in Denver from 1993 to 1994 fell from 9-7 to 7-9. His record in Buffalo improved from 10-6 to 11-5 between 1998 and 1999, but in 2000, the team dropped to 8-8.

Mike Shanahan replaced Phillips and famously led Denver from 1996 to 1998 to records of 13-3, 12-4, and 14-2, capping the last two of those seasons with Super Bowl titles. Buffalo hardly had the same luck, going 3-13 in the season (2002) after Phillips left.

If the Cowboys were to finish the season in the same manner that they have begun it, the team would show improvement in the major categories of team offense. The defensive stats are another matter. Dallas is on pace to give up more than 1,000 more yards on defense than was the case in 2007, and the Cowboys could give up more than 1,200 more yards compared with 2008.

Here’s a look:

Points For

2007: 455
2008: 362
2009 (projected): 384

Points Against

2007: 325
2008: 365
2009 (projected): 312

Yards– Total Offense

2007: 5851
2008: 5512
2009 (projected): 6416

Yards– Rushing Offense

2007: 1746
2008: 1723
2009 (projected): 2620

Yards– Passing Offense

2007: 4105
2008: 3789
2009 (projected): 3796

Yards– Defense

2007: 4922
2008: 4706
2009 (projected): 5940

Yards– Rushing Defense

2007: 1513
2008: 1706
2009 (projected): 1840

Yards– Passing Defense

2007: 3409
2008: 3003
2009 (projected): 4100

Turnover Ratio

2007: +5
2008: -11
2009 (projected): -8

Penalties

2007: 104 penalties, 815 yards
2008: 119 penalties, 952 yards
2009 (projected): 96 penalties, 964 yards

Denver 17, Dallas 10: The Cowboys Show Off Their Mediocrity

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A great quarterback make big plays when the team needs him the most.

A great defense makes stops the team needs it the most.

A great coach’s team always seems to be a page ahead of the opposition.

What the Cowboys got on Sunday was an effort by a mediocre football team that wins some and loses some. A team that wins some and loses some is probably about an 8-8 or 9-7 (or 7-9) football team.

Against the Broncos, Dallas jumped out to a 10-0 lead in the first quarter. The Cowboys held the Broncos on three consecutive possessions, but then Tony Romo was blindsided by Renaldo Hill, causing Romo to fumble. D.J. Williams picked up the fumble and took it to the Dallas 9. From there, Kyle Orton hit Knowshon Moreno on a touchdown pass, cutting the Dallas lead to 10-7.

The Cowboys had several opportunities in the second half to extend the lead. Moreno fumbled on Denver’s opening possession of the second half, and Bradie James recovered. The play gave Dallas the ball at the Denver 27, and the Cowboys moved inside the 20. However, on a third down play from the Denver 17, Miles Austin ran a poor route, and Champ Bailey made an acrobatic interception to kill the Cowboys’ drive.

From there, the Cowboys struggled to do anything on offense. Tony Romo missed open receivers by overthrowing ball, and one of the high passes led to Roy Williams being injured. The defense held its ground for the most part until Orton led the Broncos on a drive starting with 9:35 remaining. The Cowboys held Denver to a field goal, tying the game.

Dallas needed to put together a drive with 5:58 remaining, but after moving the ball to midfield, the drive stalled.  Denver got the ball at its own 27, and it only took three plays to score. Orton hit Brandon Marshall on a fade pass that Terence Newman could not manage to deflect. Marshall came down with the ball and was off and running. Ken Hamlin made another awful attempt at a tackle, and Marshall scored.

Credit Romo on the next drive with hitting Sam Hurd on a fourth-down play that resulted in a 53-yard gain. None of the offensive minds should take credit for what happened inside the Dallas 10 with 27 seconds left. Dallas had a first-and-goal from the 8. Romo threw underneath to Patrick Crayton, who was stopped at the Denver 2. The Cowboys were out of timeouts, and Romo was not able to spike the ball until there were only nine seconds left. Romo tried two slant plays to Sam Hurd, but Denver deflected both passes. The player defending Hurd on both passes: Champ Bailey.

Romo completed 25 of 42 passes for 255 yards and a pick. For the first time since taking over as a starter, Romo failed to throw a touchdown pass in two consecutive games. The Dallas rushing game never got on track, with Marion Barber and Tashard Choice combining for only 74 yards.

Recent Dallas-Denver Games Haven't Been Kind to the Cowboys

The Dallas Cowboys have faced the Denver Broncos ten times in franchise history, dating back to 1973. The Cowboys won the first game on December 2, 1973 and have won four other games since then. Each of the other four wins game during Super Bowl seasons, including Super Bowl XII itself.

The last time the Cowboys beat the Broncos was 1995. Denver was led by second-year head coach Wade Phillips, who brought to Irving what was supposed to be one of the stronger teams in the AFC. Despite John Elway’s two touchdown passes to Anthony Miller (a future Cowboy), the Broncos trailed nearly the entire game in a 31-21 Dallas win.

Three years later, it was the Broncos who were Super Bowl bound, having come off their 1997 championship. Dallas was trying to rebound from a 6-10 season in 1997 with a new head coach in Chan Gailey. The Cowboys traveled to Denver and were manhandled, giving up 35 first-half points in a 42-23 loss to Denver. The Broncos knocked Troy Aikman out of the game with a broken collarbone, leaving the Cowboys to rely on backup Jason Garrett.

And three years after that, the Cowboys hosted Denver on Thanksgiving Day. After falling behind 26-3, the Cowboys roared back, closing the gap to 26-24. When Dallas scored in the fourth quarter on a Reggie Swinton punt return to close the gap to 26-16, Dallas coach Dave Campo opted to kick the extra point instead of going for two. A two-point conversion would have put Dallas behind by eight instead of nine, giving the Cowboys a chance to tie with another touchdown and two-point conversion. By settling for the field goal, Dallas needed two scores. Campo was criticized after the loss for conservative play-calling, but by that point, very little was going well for the Dallas franchise.

The teams last met in 2005 in one of the most disappointing losses during the reign of Dallas head coach Bill Parcells. The Cowboys came from behind to force overtime, but Ron Dayne’s 55-yard run set up a Jason Elam field goal, giving Denver a 24-21 win.

Now Phillips, Garrett, and Campo will lead the Cowboys into Denver to try to beat the 3-0 Broncos. Most experts favor the Cowboys, though a few think the Broncos are for real and will knock off Dallas.

Dallas Morning News

Three of the five staffers with the DMN picked Dallas.

Rick Gosselin: Denver
Tim Cowlishaw: Dallas
Kevin Sherrington: Denver
Todd Archer: Dallas
David Moore: Dallas

ESPN

Six of the eight experts with ESPN also took Dallas.

Will Allen: Dallas
Mike Golic: Dallas
Merrill Hoge: Dallas
Ron Jaworski: Dallas
Chris Mortensen: Denver
Adam Schefter: Dallas
Mark Schlereth: Dallas
Seth Wickersham: Denver

Accuscore: Dallas 24, Denver 20

The Cowboys won 60% of the simulations on Accuscore by an average score of 23.7 to 20.4.

The Broncos are 3-0, but are underdogs at home vs the Cowboys. The
Broncos run defense has played surprising well, but they wil have their
hands full with Dallas. The Cowboys are averaging over 130 rushing
yards. If Denver can limit the Cowboys to under 125 rushing yards they
pull close to even with Dallas winning 49 percent. However, if Dallas
runs for over 125 yards the Cowboys are heavy 88 percent favorites. The
Cowboys pass rush has not yet dominated a game this year. If Kyle Orton
is not sacked Denver wins 52 percent of the time, but if Orton is
sacked 3+ times Denver wins just 26 percent, not only because of the
lost yardage but also because of the higher rate of turnovers coming
from being sacked.

Madden Simulation: Dallas 28, Denver 24

The Cowboys likewise had good fortune on the Madden simulation.

The Denver Broncos have to be considered the most surprising 3-0 team
in the league, and if they beat the Cowboys, they will go one step
further in establishing themselves as a serious threat in the AFC West.
Unfortunately for the Broncos, the defense, which up to this point has
been the strongest unit on the team, gives up a last-minute touchdown
run to Marion Barber as Dallas pulls out the victory, 28-24.

WhatIfSports: Dallas 22, Denver 18

WhatIfSports made another prediction with a four-point spread. Dallas won 69.8% of the simulations.

My Guess (3-0 this season)

Last week, I predicted a  31-21 win for the Cowboys.

The pressure is on Dallas this week, but I think they will come
through. Tony Romo will get Roy Williams and Jason Witten involved
early, and then the team can rely on its running backs. Even without
Marion Barber, the Cowboys will control most of the game on the ground.
Carolina will score a couple of late touchdowns to make the game look
closer than it will actually be.

Dallas did get Williams and Witten involved, but the entire team was sluggish during the first half. Carolina drove into Dallas territory after the Cowboys took a 21-7 lead, but Carolina turned the ball over on a late fumble.

My predictions thus far:

Week 1: Dallas 34, Tampa Bay 24 (actual: Dallas 34, Tampa Bay 21)
Week 2: N.Y. Giants 17, Dallas 14 (actual: N.Y. Giants 33, Dallas 31)
Week 3: Dallas 31, Carolina 21 (actual: Dallas 21, Carolina 7)

I don’t think Dallas will take many chances this week, especially early. We’ll see lots of Witten and the running back duo of Marion Barber and Tashard Choice. Denver does not make many mistakes on offense, but the Dallas defense will come through with a couple of really big plays to help the Cowboys to improve to 3-1.

The score…

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50 Seasons Series: '83 Cowboys Look Like Possible Contenders

For 14 weeks of the 1983 season, the Cowboys looked as if they could contend for the NFC title. The Cowboys started at 12-2 leading to a winner-take-all game against the Washington Redskins. We will get to that game a little bit later.

After the Cowboys opened the season with a 31-30 win over the Redskins, Dallas tore through its next six opponents. The Cowboys narrowly lost to the Raiders and Chargers, but Dallas’ high-scoring offense looked like it could compete against anyone.

Week 2: Dallas 34, St. Louis 17

Dallas erased an early 10-0 deficit and defeated St. Louis 34-17 in week 2. Ron Springs rushed for two touchdowns in the win.

Week 3: Dallas 28, N.Y. Giants 13

Two touchdown passes from Danny White to Doug Cosbie gave Dallas a first-half advantage, and defensive touchdowns by Michael Downs and Dexter Clinkscale secured the win for the Cowboys.

Week 4: Dallas 21, New Orleans 20

In one of the most bizarre wins in franchise history, the Cowboys trailed New Orleans 20-13 in the fourth quarter. The Saints lined up for a field goal, but Dallas blocked the kick, and Ron Fellows returned the ball 62 yards for a touchdown. Rafael Septien missed his first field goal attempt in three years, though, meaning that Dallas trailed 20-19.

With just over two minutes remaining, Danny White threw an interception in the end zone, but New Orleans defender Dennis Winston tried to run the ball out and only got to the New Orleans 5. On a second down pass play, Anthony Dickerson sacked Saint quarterback Ken Stabler for a safety, giving Dallas a 21-20 win.

Week 5: Dallas 37, Minnesota 24

The Cowboys overcame a 24-13 halftime deficit to beat the Vikings in the Metrodome. Tony Dorsett led the Cowboys with 141 rushing yards on 26 attempts.

Week 6: Dallas 27, Tampa Bay 24

The winless Buccaneers nearly pulled off the upset against the unbeaten Cowboys. With the Cowboys trailing 24-17 with only 57 seconds remaining, White hit fullback Timmy Newsome along the left sideline for a 52 yard touchdown. Here is a video clip of the play:

Septien kicked a field goal in overtime to  give Dallas a 27-24 win.

Week 7: Dallas 37, Philadelphia 7

Dallas jumped out to a 23-7 first-half lead against the Eagles and never looked back. Four different players scored for the Cowboys, who improved to 7-0 on the season.

Week 8: L.A. Raiders 40, Dallas 38

In a seesaw battle that saw six lead changes, the Raiders prevailed in a 40-38 shootout. Mike Hegman’s nine-yard touchdown return of a fumble gave Dallas a 38-34 win, but the Raiders managed two field goals to pull out the win. The teams combined for 838 yards of total offense.

Week 9: Dallas 38, N.Y. Giants 20

White completed 15 of 33 passes for 304 yards and five touchdowns in a 38-20 blowout win vs. the Giants. It marked the first time that White threw for five touchdowns in a game, tying a team record.

Week 10: Dallas 27, Philadelphia 20

White threw touchdown passes to Tony Hill and Timmy Newsome in a 27-20 win for the 9-1 Cowboys.

Week 11: San Diego 24, Dallas 23

Thanks to a great game by San Diego backup quarterback Ed Luther, the Chargers raced to a 24-6 lead in the third quarter, but the Cowboys roared back. Dallas cut the lead to 24-23 with just over eight minutes to play, but the Cowboys could get no further and suffered their second loss of the season.

Week 12: Dallas 41, Kansas City 21

Two Tony Dorsett touchdowns gave Dallas a 27-0 lead, and the Cowboys barely looked back in a 41-21 win over the Chiefs. Dorsett finished with 108 yards.

Week 13: Dallas 35, St. Louis 17

Though the Cowboys gave up a 71-yard touchdown pass from Neil Lomax to Roy Green early in the game, the Cowboys took a 21-7 halftime lead in a 35-17 win. Dorsett had another good day, rushing for 102 yards and two touchdowns.

Week 14: Dallas 35, Seattle 10

For the third consecutive game, Dorsett topped the 100-yard mark. The Cowboys outgained the  Seahawks 418 to 216 in the Dallas win.

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Cowboys Tied for 11th in Stat-Based Power Rankings

After three weeks, the Cowboys rank third in the NFL in total offense but only rank 26th in total defense. Dallas is preparing to face the Denver Broncos, who have the top-ranked defense after three week (albeit against fairly weak opponents). Denver ranks 9th in total offense.

Rather than focus on a composite of several power rankings, here is a new method: a power ranking system based in part on statistics. The ranking system takes into account the following:

(1) Total offense (33.33%)
(2) Total defense (33.33%)
(3) Turnover ratio (16.67%)
(4) Point differential (16.67%)

Based on this, the Cowboys are tied for 11th in the NFL after week 3. The second highest-ranked team on the list is more than a bit of surprise: Denver. Another surprise: Atlanta, which ranks below the league average on both offense and defense. Though the Falcons have an average ranking of 9th in other power-ranking polls, they only rank 21st based on their stats. This is due to the Falcons ranking 23rd in the league on offense and 24th on defense.

Here’s a look:

1. N.Y. Giants (3-0)
2. Denver (3-0)
3. Baltimore (3-0)
4. New Orleans (3-0)
5. Philadelphia (2-1)
6. New England (2-1)
7. Indianapolis (3-0)
8. Minnesota (3-0)
9. N.Y. Jets (3-0)
10. San Diego (2-1)
11(t). Dallas (2-1)
11(t). Seattle (1-2)
13. Pittsburgh (1-2)
14. Washington (1-2)
15. Green Bay (2-1)
16. Chicago (2-1)
17. San Francisco (2-1)
18. Tennessee (0-3)
19. Jacksonville (1-2)
20. Arizona (1-2)
21. Atlanta (2-1)
22. Cincinnati (2-1)
23. Buffalo (1-2)
24. Miami (0-3)
25. Houston (1-2)
26(t). Oakland (1-2)
26(t). Kansas City (0-3)
28. Detroit (0-3)
29. Carolina (0-3)
30. Tampa Bay (0-3)
31. St. Louis (0-3)
32. Cleveland (0-3)

Go here for the complete file. Please comment to this post if you have suggestions for adjustments (e.g., strength of schedule, which I did not try to factor). If you are a fan of Football Outsiders (which I am), you will probably find my ranking system to be an elementary-school version. That said, Denver ranked third on Football Outsiders’ DVOA this week, while Seattle ranked 13th and Washington ranked 15th.

Some explanations:

Seattle (tied for 11th with a 1-2 record): Seattle ranks 10th in the league in offense and 11th in defense, which explains why such a poor team ranks high. The Seahawks’ turnover differential is only -1, and the team had a point differential of +9 thanks to a 28-0 win over St. Louis followed by two closer losses.

Pittsburgh (13th with a 1-2 record): Less surprising is that Pittburgh ranks pretty high despite a 1-2 start. The Steelers dominated both of their last two games but could not hold on to leads.

Washington (14th with a 1-2 record): Washington ranks 13th and 15th in offense and defense, respectively, which is not bad.

Cincinnati (22nd with a 2-1 record): The Bengals have been a bit of a surprise after losing their opener to the Broncos in such a bizarre fashion. Cincinnati only ranks 24th in total offense, and they rank 24th in turnover differential. Pretty impressive that the Bengals beat the #14 and #16 teams on this list and should have beaten the #2 team.

Cleveland (32nd with an 0-3 record): The Browns are just awful, ranking 32nd in offense, 32nd in point differential, 31st in turnover ratio, and 30th in defense.

As for the Cowboys…

Total Offense (3rd): The Cowboys have averaged 429.7 per game, which is 96.3 above the league average of 333.4.

Total Defense (26th): The Cowboys have given up an average of 382.7 yards per game, which is 49.3 points below the average of 333.4.

Turnovers (16-tie): The Cowboys have a turnover ratio of -1. Scaled to a 16-game season, Dallas would have a ratio of -5.

Point Differential (+25, 8th): With two double-digit wins and a close loss, the Cowboys point differential is at +25.

Relative Value Rankings After Week 3

There was more movement in the weekly Relative Value Rankings based on performances against Carolina. Thanks to those who participated in the poll last week. I took votes into consideration along with performances to determine this week’s rankings. This week’s poll is at the bottom of this post.

Players rising up this week: LB Victor Butler, RB Tashard Choice

Players slipping: LB Bobby Carpenter, WR Sam Hurd

53. Duke Preston, C

Last week: 52

vs. Carolina: Inactive. He has yet to be active in 2009.

52. Pat McQuistan, T

Last week: 51

vs. Carolina: Inactive. He has yet to be active in 2009.

51. Montrae Holland, G

Last week: 50

vs. Carolina: Inactive. He has yet to be active in 2009.

50. Stephen McGee, QB

Last week: 49

vs. Carolina: Inactive. He has yet to be active in 2009.

49. Jason Williams, LB

Last week: 48

vs. Carolina: Inactive. He has yet to be active in 2009.

48. Michael Hamlin, S

Last week: 48

vs. Carolina: Inactive. He has yet to be active in 2009.

47. Kevin Ogletree, WR

Last week: 46

vs. Carolina: Inactive. He has yet to be active in 2009.

46. Cory Procter, C/G

Last week: 45

vs. Carolina: Inactive. He has yet to be active in 2009.

45. Curtis Johnson, LB

Last week: 53

vs. Carolina: He was placed on the active roster for the first time this season. He did not record a tackle.

44. John Phillips, TE

Last week: 42

vs. Carolina: Phillips saw action in the fullback position as well as the third tight end position. His most notable contribution: called for a false start on fourth-and-goal from the Carolina 1 in the third quarter. Not good.

43. Doug Free, T

Last week: 43

vs. Carolina: Free came into the game when Flozell Adams was injured briefly in the third quarter.

42. Marvin White, S

Last week: 41

vs. Carolina: White saw action on special teams but did not record a tackle. He was called for holding on a punt return late in the first quarter.

41. L.P. Ladouceur, LS

Last week: 39

vs. Carolina: His snap on Folk’s missed field goal  was a little bit inside (toward’s McBriar’d body), but it did not appear to cause Folk to miss.

40. Jon Kitna, QB

Last week: 38

vs. Carolina: Chatter about the team using Kitna should die down this week.

39. David Buehler, K

Last week: 37

vs. Carolina: Four kicks in the end zone with three touchbacks. Great draft pick.

38. Pat Watkins, S

Last week: 36

vs. Carolina: Played special teams but did not record a tackle.

37. Steve Octavien, LB

Last week: 35

vs. Carolina: Played special teams but did not record a tackle.

36. Alan Ball, CB

Last week: 40

vs. Carolina: Ball recorded a tackle late in the game when he filled in for Terence Newman.

35. Sam Hurd, WR

Last week: 29

Poll Rating: 2.26

vs. Carolina: Hurd recorded one tackle on special teams. Hurd was supposed to be a viable candidate as the #3 receiver, but he has shown very little.

34. Bobby Carpenter, LB

Last week: 31

Poll Rating: 1.79

vs.
Carolina: Carpenter played in the nickel package and on special teams.
He recorded two tackles and an assist. He completely whiffed trying to
tackle DeAngelo Williams on a third-and-16 draw play in the second
quarter.

33. Stephen Bowen, DE

Last week: 34

vs. Carolina: Bowen saw action on the defensive line. He nearly got to Delhomme on at least one play.

32. Junior Siavii, DT

Last week: 33

vs. Carolina: Siavii likewise saw action on the defensive line. He did not record a tackle.

31. Jason Hatcher, DE

Last week: 32

vs. Carolina: Hatcher saw action on the defensive line and on special teams. He recovered a Jake Delhomme fumble on the Panthers’ final offensive series.

30. Miles Austin, WR

Last week: 27

Poll Rating: 2.58

vs. Carolina: Austin was the target of only one pass. He has made two pretty big receptions this year, but he is usually just another guy running routes.

29. Orlando Scandrick, CB

Last week: 28

Poll Rating: 1.78

vs. Carolina: Scandrick recorded two tackles on defense along with a special teams tackle.

28. Deon Anderson, FB

Last week: 30

Poll Rating: 2.48

vs. Carolina: Anderson is a solid blocker. He is not involved in the passing game, though. In the opening drive, Dallas used third tight end John Phillips at fullback, so it will be interesting to see if Anderson may be used less.

27. Ken Hamlin, S

Last week: 24

Poll Rating: 2.21

vs. Carolina: Anyone think of a former player who wore #31 when watching Hamlin? Doesn’t tackle well; makes poor choices in coverage. Hamlin completely missed a tackle on Muhsin Muhammad, allowing Muhammad to race on an apparent 79-yard touchdown. It was called back due to an offensive pass interference penalty, but that does not excuse Hamlin’s poor play.

26. Mike Jenkins, CB

Last week: 26

Poll Rating: 2.33

vs. Carolina: Jenkins recorded an interception in the second quarter, giving Dallas its first turnover of the season.

25. Victor Butler, LB

Last week: 44

vs. Carolina: Butler had a huge game, picking up two sacks. That’s two more than DeMarcus Ware and Anthony Spencer combined.

24. Anthony Spencer, LB

Last week: 22

Poll Rating: 2.63

vs.
Carolina: A positive play: Spencer tackled fullback Tony Fiammetta for
a minimal gain on a second down play in the first quarter. The bad:
Spencer is not generating a pass rush. Just like this poll, Victor Butler may cause Spencer to look over his shoulder.

23. Gerald Sensabaugh, S

Last week: 23

Poll Rating: 2.35

vs. Carolina: Sensabaugh recorded two tackles and an assist. I didn’t see any mistakes, but he also has not made a big play since the opening week.

22. Nick Folk, K

Last week: 20

Poll Rating: 4.08

vs. Carolina: Folk had been automatic until he missed a 40-yard field goal in the first quarter.

21. Mat McBriar, P

Last week: 21

Poll Rating: 3.74

vs. Carolina: McBriar was quietly great, downing five punts inside the 20-yard line.

20. Marcus Spears, DE

Last week: 18

Poll Rating: 2.79

vs. Carolina: Spears did not record a tackle.

19. Martellus Bennett, TE

Last week: 16

Poll Rating: 3.16

vs. Carolina: I know that Bennett causes matchup problems, and I know he is a good blocker. But he has not been much of a weapon in the passing game so far.

18. Marc Columbo, T

Last week: 15

Poll Rating: 3.54

vs. Carolina: Columbo gave up a sack when Jon Beason ran right past him on a first-quarter play. He was also called for holding in the second quarter, negating a first-down throw to Patrick Crayton. Columbo has been solid, but he had a little bit of trouble against Carolina.

17. Igor Olshansky, DE

Last week: 19

Poll Rating: 2.96

vs. Carolina: Olshansky recorded four tackles. He is getting a better push in the pass rush and has been around the ball carrier quite a bit.

16. Keith Brooking, LB

Last week: 17

Poll Rating: 2.48

vs. Carolina: Brooking recorded three tackles with two assists. Brooking and DeMarcus Ware made a good play in the first quarter back breaking through to stop Jonathan Stewart for a four-yard loss.

15. Tashard Choice, RB

Last week: 25

Poll Rating: 3.12

vs. Carolina: What a great game. When Felix Jones went down with an injury early in the third quarter, Choice came in and looked like a #1 running back. 18 carries, 82 yards, 1 TD.

14. Patrick Crayton, WR

Last week: 14

Poll Rating: 2.68

vs. Carolina: Crayton is not a flashy player, but he has been dependable.  Three receptions for 44 yards, plus a 14.5 average on punt returns.

13. Flozell Adams, T

Last week: 13

Poll Rating: 2.83

vs. Carolina: Adams is still an excellent left tackle. His block on the Panthers’ right outside linebacker in the third quarter helped to set up Felix Jones’ 40-yard run. Then again there is the call: “False Start, #76, Offense.”

12. Roy Williams, WR

Last week: 12

Poll Rating: 2.50

vs. Carolina: Four receptions for 75 yards. Not bad, but he needs to make a few of those difficult catches.

11. Bradie James, LB

Last week: 9

Poll Rating: 3.30

vs. Carolina: Let the team in total tackles with three tackles and three assists.

10. Tony Romo, QB

Last week: 8

Poll Rating: 1.96

vs. Carolina: Romo looked very shaky in the first half, but he managed the game well in the second half. He finished 22 of 33 with 255 yards and no interceptions. He may have to give up stats as a game manager, but this change could help Dallas to more wins.

9. Jay Ratliff, NT

Last week: 10

Poll Rating: 3.83

vs. Carolina: Ratliff generated pressure and recorded the first sack of the season for Dallas.

8. Terence Newman, CB

Last week: 11

Poll Rating: 2.04

vs.
Carolina: Newman held Steve Smith in check all evening. Newman was horrible in the tackling department, but none of his missed tackles turned out to be significant. His pick-6
sealed the Cowboys’ win.

7. Leonard Davis, G

Last week: 6

Poll Rating: 3.79

vs. Carolina: Another solid game for Davis.

6. Kyle Kosier, G

Last week: 7

Poll Rating: 3.92

vs. Carolina: Kosier had more solid blocks that sprung Felix Jones. He should be a Pro Bowl contender if people are paying attention.

5. Andre Gurode, C

Last week: 5

Poll Rating: 3.92

vs. Carolina: Another game without pressure up the middle.

4. Felix Jones, RB

Last week: 4

Poll Rating: 4.21

vs. Carolina: The great: Jones looks like he may break one every time he touches the ball. The bad: He looks like he may break a bone every time he touches the ball. Jones will miss next week’s game against Denver.

3. Marion Barber, RB

Last week: 3

Poll Rating: 4.31

vs. Carolina: Barber has been great this season, but the Cowboys hardly looked like they missed him– except, perhaps, for goalline play-calling.

2. DeMarcus Ware, LB

Last week: 1

Poll Rating: 3.67

vs. Carolina: Ware still has not recorded a sack, though he came very close in the Carolina game.

1. Jason Witten, TE

Last week: 2

Poll Rating: 3.89

vs. Carolina: Nine receptions for 77 yards. Witten is Romo’s only reliable target, and he comes through time and time again. Given Ware’s lack of a sack, Witten takes the top spot for a week.

Poll

Please take a moment to rate the Dallas Cowboys:

Instant Trivia: 200-Yard Rushing Games

week3.jpg

In the past two weeks, the Cowboys have had back-to-back 200-yard rushing games. This marks the first time since 1979 that the Cowboys have achieved this accomplishment.

The Cowboys have had back-to-back 200-yard performances six times in team history, with four of those instances coming during the 1970s. Incidentally, the Cowboys have never had three consecutive 200-yard rushing performances. Here is a look:

1962

201, October 28 vs. St. Louis
224, November 4, vs. Washington

1972

209, December 3 vs. St. Louis
246, December 9 vs. Washington

1975

207, December 13 vs. Washington
243, December 21 vs. New York Jets

1977

205, October 2 vs. Tampa Bay
264, October 9 vs. St. Louis

1979

279, October 7 vs. Minnesota
201, October 14 vs. L.A. Rams

2009

251, September 20 vs. N.Y. Giants
212, September 28 vs. Carolina

Jason Witten

Jason Witten has been solid this season and obviously serves as Tony Romo’s security blanket. One might think that a nine-reception performance is a typical game for Witten, but Monday’s game marked only the seventh time that Witten has caught nine or more passes.

Oct. 31, 2004 vs. Detroit: 9 rec., 84 yds.
Nov. 11, 2004 vs. Philadelphia: 9 rec., 133 yds.
Nov. 24, 2005 vs. Denver: 9 rec., 82 yds.
Oct. 21, 2007 vs. Minnesota: 10 rec., 86 yds.
Dec. 9, 2007 vs. Detroit: 15 rec., 138 yds.
Nov. 27, 2008 vs. Seattle: 9 rec., 115 yds.
Sept. 28, 2009 vs. Carolina: 9 rec., 77 yds.

Defense is Out of the Defensive Rankings Cellar

The Cowboys gave up an average of 438.5 yards per game in the first two weeks. Briefly, the Cowboys ranked dead last in the league when factoring in Sunday’s games by not the Monday night game. By holding Carolina to 271 total yards, the Cowboys’ average dropped to 382.7, which ranks 24th.