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By the Numbers stats preview: Falcons vs. Cowboys

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The 4-4 Falcons take on the 5-3 Cowboys in Atlanta on Sunday. How do these two teams match-up statistically?

Atlanta Falcons v Dallas Cowboys Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images

We’ve reached Week 10 of the 2017 season, and the Falcons are 4-4. They’ve played disappointing football thus far, but the season is still alive...for now. If Atlanta wants to keep it alive, they’ll need to start getting some wins. This week, at home against the 5-3 Dallas Cowboys, is their chance to take out another potential Wild Card contender and build some confidence heading into a difficult Week 11 game against the Seahawks.

Getting this win will be easier said than done, however, even with Cowboys’ star RB Ezekiel Elliott suspended. Let’s take a look at how these two teams compare statistically.


OFFENSE

Statistic Falcons Cowboys
Statistic Falcons Cowboys
Points/game 21.2 (17th) 28.2 (4th)
Total yards/game 372.0 (5th) 370.5 (7th)
Yards per play 6.2 (2nd) 5.7 (6th)
Passing yards/game 257.5 (6th) 222.4 (17th)
Passing yards per attempt 8.0 (T-5th) 7.0 (T-19th)
Passing TDs 11 (T-19th) 16 (T-5th)
Rushing yards/game 114.5 (13th) 148.1 (2nd)
Rushing yards per attempt 4.6 (4th) 4.8 (T-1st)
Rushing TDs 6 (T-13th) 11 (1st)
Third Down Efficiency 40% (14th) 46% (4th)
Turnover Margin -4 (T-25th) 3 (T-10th)

The Falcons offense continues to underachieve in 2017. Their yardage stats are all very good, but their scoring is lagging behind considerably. Atlanta is currently 17th in scoring, 5th in total yards, and 2nd in yards per play. The team is currently a little better passing the ball, as they’re 6th in yards per game, T-5th in yards per attempt, and T-19th in passing TDs. On the ground, the Falcons are 13th in yards per game, 4th in yards per carry, and T-13th in rushing TDs. Atlanta has been about average on third down, converting 40% of attempts (14th), but they’ve continued to struggle mightily in turnover margin (-4, T-25th).

Dallas has once again been one of the better offenses in the league in 2017, although there’s no telling how they’ll look with star RB Ezekiel Elliott on the sideline. The Cowboys are 4th in scoring, 7th in total yards, and 6th in yards per play. Through the air, the team is 17th in yards, T-19th in yards per attempt, and T-5th in passing TDs. Dallas has been among the league’s best teams at running the ball, as they’re 2nd in yards, T-1st in yards per attempt, and 1st in rushing TDs. The Cowboys have also been excellent on third down (40%, 4th) and very good at limiting turnovers (+3, T-10th).

Advantage: Cowboys


DEFENSE

Statistic Falcons Cowboys
Statistic Falcons Cowboys
Points/game 21.5 (14th) 22.2 (15th)
Total yards/game 321.8 (13th) 324.6 (14th)
Yards per play 5.1 (12th) 5.1 (15th)
Passing yards/game 207.2 (10th) 223.4 (15th)
Passing yards per attempt 6.6 (T-7th) 6.8 (T-11th)
Passing TDs 11 (T-12th) 14 (T-19th)
Rushing yards/game 114.5 (18th) 101.2 (13th)
Rushing yards per attempt 4.2 (T-20th) 4.4 (25th)
Rushing TDs 4 (T-7th) 4 (T-7th)
Third Down Efficiency 38% (15th) 42% (24th)
Sacks 18 (T-19th) 27 (3rd)

Atlanta’s defense, despite giving up plenty of long drives, is playing average to slightly above-average football overall through eight games. The Falcons are currently 14th in scoring, 13th in yards, and 12th in yards per play. The team has been much better against the pass, as they’re 10th in yards, T-7th in yards per attempt, and T-12th in passing TDs. Against the run, the Falcons are 18th in yards, T-20th in yards per carry, and T-7th in rushing TDs. Atlanta has been about average on third down (38%, 15th), and at generating sacks (18, T-19th).

The Cowboys have also been a largely average defense in 2017. They’re currently 15th in scoring, 14th in yards, and 15th in yards per play. Against the pass, Dallas is 15th in yards, T-11th in yards per attempt, and T-19th in passing TDs. On the ground, the team is 13th in yards, 25th in yards per carry, and T-7th in rushing TDs. The Cowboys have struggled on third down, as they’re currently allowing a 42% conversion rate (24th). Dallas, however, has been excellent at rushing the passer, with 27 sacks on the year (3rd).

Advantage: Falcons


If Ezekiel Elliott was playing, I’d probably give the edge to the Cowboys in this one. If we’re basing it off how these two teams have looked over the past several weeks, I’d also lean towards the Cowboys. However, they don’t have Elliott and the Falcons are finally coming home after a pretty difficult 3-game road stretch. Atlanta is also basically playing for their season at this point, as they can’t afford to drop to 4-5 heading into a very difficult game at Seattle next week.

I’m not sure what to expect from this Falcons team from week-to-week. We haven’t seen a truly good 4-quarter performance from them since Week 2. They have the talent to blow teams out, but are plagued by awful playcalling and execution errors. The Falcons should be better than they are, but instead they’re 4-4. With two teams in the division at 6 wins, it’s time to put up or shut up for Atlanta.

The Falcons are playing slightly better than Dallas on defense and are generating plenty of yards on offense—they just need to figure out how to score more points. Maybe playing at home will help them this week, although they haven’t fared particularly well there so far in 2017 (1-2 record). Dallas has an excellent, efficient offense and a decent defense. Atlanta will have to play one of their best games of the season to beat them. I’m not sure if they will, but they could.

Overall Advantage: Push


What are your thoughts on the Falcons-Cowboys match-up? Do you think Atlanta has a shot on Sunday? Is there any hope at all?