SCHEDULE ANALYSIS SHEDS HOPE ON COWBOYS

By mark rogers
October 19, 2011

The Dallas Cowboys, in all their frustrating and aggravating glory, are 2-3 with 11 games to go before the regular season ends.

They're frustrating because Dallas has lost by four points twice and three points once. Dallas could very easily be 5-0. They could very easily be 0-5 (because we've won two close games). I don't like playing the coulda, woulda, shoulda game. I like the Bill Parcells' saying, "you are what your record says you are." Right now? Dallas is a 2-3 team.

Let's take an analytic and statistical look at what that 2-3 means compared with the rest of the league. From an outside perspective, it means that we're third in the NFC East and tied for 10th out of 16 teams in the NFC.

But let's take a closer look...

The five teams we've played are a combined 21-8, that's a 72.41 opponents' winning percentage (OWP). That's the equivalent of a 12-4 team.

Only one team in the league has played teams with a better overall winning percentage - the Denver Broncos (21-7 or 75% OWP), and they're 1-4.

11 teams in the league have an OWP greater than 55%. Of those 11 teams, two have winning records: San Francisco (55.88% OWP) at 5-1 (a team the Cowboys beat on the road), and the Buffalo Bills (60% OWP) at 4-2.

The top four OWPs so far belong to Denver, Dallas, St. Louis, and Miami...the Rams and Dolphins have yet to win.

When breaking all this down, it's easy to see the early "really good teams" and early "really bad teams" based on who's winning and losing against good and bad competition.

In other words, teams with a low OWP and a losing record are bad, while teams with a high OWP and a winning record are good.

This is about to get really complicated...

Three teams (New Orleans, Tampa Bay and Detroit) have OWPs right at 50%...we'll toss them out.

That leaves 13 teams with OWPs below .500. A losing record vs. a below .500 OWP is a bad sign.

Three teams fall into this category: Kansas City, Cleveland, and Arizona (the Cardinals are 1-4 with a 39% OWP...that's terrible).

16 teams have OWPs greater than .500. Teams with winning records in this echelon are pretty good.

Four teams fall into this category: New England (52% OWP), Oakland (53% OWP), San Francisco (56% OWP), and Buffalo (60% OWP). This leads me to believe that the Bills are much better than I thought they were.

All that being said, here's the NFC East breakdown of future OWP (the current winning percentage of each team's remaining schedule):

1.      Giants - 59%

2.      Philly - 47%

3.      Washington - 46%

4.      Dallas - 41%

Yet another good sign. It makes a lot of sense that the top two teams in the division (NYG and WAS) have played the easiest and fourth-easiest schedules so far (based on OWP). The Cowboys have the second toughest OWP, while Philly has the 9th toughest.

Other interesting things to note from my exhaustive schedule breakdown:

Green Bay's OWP is 35% which is the 30th out of 32 (really easy)...they're 6-0 as they should be.

Pittsburgh, San Diego, Cincinnati, and Baltimore have all played relatively easy records and they're all either leading their divisions or a game back of the lead.

I know I'm breaking this down a little too much but all these numbers tell me 2-3 might not be so bad considering who we've played and who those teams have defeated.

It also tells me that we have a decent chance of winning the division since we have the weakest remaining strength of schedule.

Down...but not out.....yet.

If we lose to a winless St. Louis team on Sunday, then I'm going to take all this data and flush it down the toilet.

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