Stats don't often tell the whole story, but most are relevant when put into context. Here are four NFC East stats that help explain why the division's four teams stand where they do heading into Week 10 of the 2012 NFL regular season.
Dallas Cowboys: 3.6
That's how many yards per carry the Cowboys are averaging on the ground, which is only better than one other NFL team. It's also a significant drop-off from 2011, when the 'Boys averaged 4.4 yards per rushing attempt.
Not having DeMarco Murray is a big factor, as is the inconsistent play being delivered by the offensive line. Pro Football Focus ranks Dallas in the middle of the pack in terms of run blocking, which indicates that a lot of this should fall on Felix Jones, who's averaging exactly 3.6 yards a carry.
It's hard for a passing game to excel when there's no balance, and the Cowboys are finding that out the hard way right now.
New York Giants: +14
That's the Giants' turnover ratio, which is the second-best in football. Where would they be without that right now?
Among the NFL's top seven teams in this category, not a single one is below .500, and six are at least two games above that mark. The Patriots are among those teams, but are likely to fade because they've been relying too heavily on fumble recoveries on defense. Unfortunately, those come down to luck. The teams that intercept the most passes on defense and avoid interceptions on offense end up faring the best in this category when all is said and done.
And New York is tied for the league lead with 17 defensive interceptions. That's why the Giants are a first-place team, despite having surrendered an embarrassing 8.2 yards per pass attempt and despite lacking consistency on offense.
That's the percentage of touchdowns the Eagles have scored in the red zone this year, which ranks 30th in the league, ahead of only Cleveland and Kansas City. This problem peaked Monday night in New Orleans, where Michael Vick was 2-for-11 and the running game wasn't even a factor inside the Saints' 20, with Philadelphia coming away with only six points on five trips inside that mark.
If you remove their 2-for-2 red-zone record against the Browns in Week 1, the Eagles would be tied for last in the league in this category, which is unacceptable when you have guys like Vick, LeSean McCoy, DeSean Jackson, Jeremy Maclin and Brent Celek.
This is obviously a key reason why the Eagles are one of the league's worst teams right now.
That's how many penalties the Redskins have taken this year, which leads the league by a margin of nine (or 12 percent). Their 649 penalty yards total also leads the league with a 10-percent gap separating them and the next team on the list. Now, they've yet to have their bye week, but even on a per-game basis, the 'Skins are the most frequently penalized team in the NFL.
I find it interesting that nearly half of their penalties have come from offensive linemen, tight ends and running backs, which suggests they're drawing a lot of flags in attempts to keep Robert Griffin III clean. Together, Kory Lichtensteiger, Trent Williams and Fred Davis are responsible for 21 percent of the team's penalties.
So while it's almost impossible to win when you're penalized that often, it's also possible that it could be a whole lot worse if not for some of those flags.
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