Dallas came into the season as nearly everyone’s favorite NFC team to improve on an injury riddled season, and has not let anyone down. Sitting at a 4-1 record, with a long loss in week 1 to last year’s Super Bowl Champion, the Cowboys have the 2nd best DVOA coming into the week. New England, on the other hand, was a bit tougher to dissect coming into the year. They had numerous negative regression indicators (31st ranked 3rd down rebound, 28th in fumble luck and 32nd in yards per point), yet had an “outworldly” amount of defensive talent coming back (mostly that opted out during the Covid year), literally setting a record for the Biggest Net AV Over Replacement Gain on Defense from one year to the next by Pro Football Reference metrics. The two teams face off in Foxborough this Sunday afternoon in a game that I have absolutely not confirmed this, yet am sure Tony Romo is offering the play-by-play.
Ryan’s Season Totals
Assigned Games: 5-4 (with 2 Underdogs winning outright)
Best Bets: 12-2, Up 1123%
- Opening Line: Dallas -4
- Current Line: Dallas -3.5
- Over/Under: 51
- Location: Gillette Stadium, Foxborough, MA
- Start Time: 4:25 PM EST, SUN 10/17
- Last Meeting: Patriots 13, Cowboys 9 in New England Week 12, 2019
This is a game the Cowboys should win. In fact, based on PFF unit grading, the Cowboys outrank the Patriots in every category except tackling and special teams. However, what’s most interesting to me is how similar the two QBs have been in terms of Archetype. According to NFL Next Gen Stats, Dak Presscott and Mac Jones are top 7 in how long they hold on to the ball, how short their average throw is, how well their OC’s scheme their targets open and even completion percentage over expectation. As a matter of fact, they are within 3 ranking spots of each other in 4 of the 5 critical factors that makeup a QB’s archetype. The only difference in the two QBs (disregarding performance a minute, and focusing on “makeup”) is how aggressive Presscott (7th most) has been vs. Jones (29th most).
The lone issue with the Dallas Offense coming in to this year was OC Kellen Moore’s clear tendencies. According to Sharp Football Analysis, last year when 3 WR were on the field, the Cowboys passed 75% of the time, while running it 90% of the time when 3 WR were NOT on the field. This year, that number has dropped to 61% (and only running 54% from heavier sets like 12 personnel). Clearly the guy is learning.
On the other side of the ball, you have the GOAT in Bill Belichick. He’s working as a rookie QB, behind a veteran defense, and likely has a solid defense drummed up to counter Dak, and his odd Pass Directional splits (that have carried over in multiple years now). Belichick is likely astute enough to run more Cover 6, a safe way to bring more resources to one side of the field and/or shade his typical deep Cover 1 safety over to the defense’s left side where Dak clearly wants to throw the ball (Dak’s Passer Ratings to the left field zones: 69, 124, 75, while to the right are 156, 132 and 113).
Nonetheless, the likely loss of OT Trent Brown for the Pats, who according to the SIS On/Off Report generates a loss of .12 EPA/play when OFF the field, will likely be too much for the team. Particularly given the strength of the Patriots pass pro is heavily weighted to the outside (ranked 3rd in OL Pressure Rate on the outside, while only 14th in the interior).
- The Patriots are 2-10-1 ATS in their last 13 games following a straight-up win
- The Over is 12-5 in the Cowboys’ last 17 games played in October
- The Under is 8-1 in the Patriots’ last nine home games.
The Cowboys have an elite offense with a defense capable enough to back them up with opportunistic play. It’s very tough to bet against Bilichick at home, but the numbers are simply too strong to ignore.
Prediction: Dallas 24, New England 17