Regular readers know how deeply we care about numbers here on the B/R NFC East Blog, which is why we try to check in on each of the division's four teams as often as possible from a strictly statistical perspective.
Here's a look at some of the key stats that tell the story of the Dallas Cowboys' season with two weeks remaining...
44: That's the percentage of third downs that the Cowboys have converted this season, which ranks third in the NFL, behind only New England (50 percent) and Atlanta (46 percent). That's a step up from last year, when Dallas was just above the middle of the pack at 39 percent.
This number didn't stand out until recently, but in their last four games, the 'Boys have converted 53 percent of their third downs. Tony Romo is cool under pressure and Jason Witten and Dez Bryant have really stepped up.
13: That's how many sacks the Cowboys have recorded since Week 12, which indicates that the pass rush is hotter than it's been in quite some time. Only two teams have picked up more sacks during that span, and Dallas is 3-1 since that week.
That averages out to 3.3 sacks per game, which is up quite significantly from the first seven weeks of the season, when the 'Boys were only able to muster 13 sacks in total for an average of 1.9 sacks per outing. The major difference here? Anthony Spencer is the hottest defensive player in the NFL right now.
+55: That's the Cowboys' scoring margin in the fourth quarter throughout the last six weeks, which ranks first in the NFL by a wide margin. They've scored a league-high 94 points in the fourth quarter of those six games, which is more than five teams have scored in all four quarters during that time period.
"I believe when I step on the field in the fourth quarter, if we're within 10-14 points, we're going to find a way to win the ballgame," Romo said this week, per the Dallas Morning News. "And we've been down, I don't know, five times, six times this year and we've consistently come back and put ourselves in position."
That 94 number is remarkable. They're averaging 15.7 points in the last six fourth quarters, and only 13.0 points in the first three quarters. That's why this team is still very much alive despite having problems.
3.5: It's not all great news from a statistical standpoint. The Cowboys are averaging just 3.5 yards per carry this season, which is tied for last in the NFL. The offensive line has really struggled to open up holes and DeMarco Murray's midseason injury played a large role as well.
Murray has struggled to find a groove since returning to the lineup three weeks ago (he's yet to surpass the 83-yard mark) but there were some positive signs in his latest performance against the Steelers, when he averaged 5.8 yards per attempt.
Still, considering the role that the running game was supposed to play this season, it's disappointing to see that Dallas has been one of the league's least productive teams on the ground. Imagine where this offense could be right now if it were more balanced.
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