Cowboys + Packers Advanced Stats Notebook

How have you been? That's a much more important question for the Cowboys and Packers these days. Season-long stats are fine, but if you want to know how these teams are playing heading into this clash of the titans, the recent game history is what's most important.

Coming down the stretch of the season, both the Dallas Cowboys and the Green Bay Packers had plenty to play for. The Packers entered December 9-3, with a one-game NFC North lead over the Detroit Lions, however had lost the first matchup between the teams and would have to face them again in the final four games.

Dallas on the other hand, entered the month 8-4 and a game behind the Philadelphia Eagles. They, too, had lost the first matchup with the rematch coming in the final four games of the season. Dallas was on the outside of the playoffs looking in. The sixth best team, by virtue of tiebreakers, fighting for five playoff berths (with the NFC South winner destined to be below .500 but still getting an automatic bid).

With the screws tightening on both teams, and having something to play for through the final game of the season, comparing the performances of the two foes from this Sunday’s Divisional Round makes perfect sense. Weighting the performances from later in the year gives a much better glimpse into the potential matchup then worrying about how Dallas did against San Francisco, or the Packers against Seattle way back in Week One.

For this week, the Advanced Stats Notebook will focus on the teams’ accomplishments during roughly the last quarter of the season. We know that both teams sit atop the rankings for EPA, Passer Rating Differential, ANY/A Differential… we’ve been tracking those all season. For a recap, check out last week’s Notebook that closed the book on the regular season.

The schedule of both teams match up rather well. Both teams played home games against the Detroit Lions, and both played home games against an AFC division winner (New England and Indianapolis). Both teams also faced one very good opponent that just missed the playoffs (Buffalo and Philadelphia) and both teams faced two bottom-tier teams (Chicago and Washington for Dallas, Tampa Bay and Atlanta for Green Bay). In essence, the two schedules were as identical as one could hope for, giving us the perfect opportunity to compare performances down the stretch.

Drive Alives

Instead of using the standard measurement of third down conversions, shouldn’t fourth down conversions be included? If you choose to go for it on fourth, after failing to convert a third down, the drive still continues. Isn’t that ability what we try to capture with the third down conversion percentage stat? A team is given four downs to gain 10 yards before they have to give the ball back to the other team. IF that opportunity is converted on third or fourth down, that is still one opportunity converted. As such, all converted fourth downs have been added to converted third downs, on the same number of attempts, to better represent a team’s ability to keep drives alive. The number of attempts is not added.

GamesCowboys Packers
 MadeAttempt4D Conversions MadeAttempt4D Conversions
Bears9142/2Patriots7120/0
Eagles5130/0Falcons4140/0
Colts5100/0Bills6130/0
Washington4120/0Bucs8130/0
Lions8142/2Lionsn/an/an/a
 MadeAttemptPercentage MADEAttemptPercentage
Total316349% 255248%

In their last five games, both teams are hovering around the 50% mark in keeping Drives Alive. The Packers have the slightest of edges, 51% - 49%.

Drives Deaded

On the flip side of Drive Alives, there are Drives Deaded… the ability to shut down an opponent’s drive on those crucial downs. After giving up three for three fourth down conversions to Chicago in their blowout victory, Dallas has clamped down, leaving opponents 0/4, for a total of 3 for 7 over the last five games. Meanwhile, the Packers are giving up fourth down conversions on a steady basis, 6 out of 8 attempts were successful over the last five contests.

GamesCowboys Packers
 MadeAttempt4D Conversions MadeAttempt4D Conversions
Bears5103/3Patriots5101/1
Eagles5110/0Falcons8113/3
Colts5130/1Bills4160/0
Washington4120/2Bucs5141/1
Lions4110/1Lions5111/3
 MadeAttemptPercentage MadeAttemptPercentage
Total235740% 276244%



Toxic Differentials

Toxic Differential is a metric that started with Super Bowl winning head coach Brian Billick when he was the offensive coordinator during the Randy Moss era in Minnesota. It’s used to measure a team’s ability to create and prevent both turnovers and explosive plays. Toxic Differential is calculated by adding together a team’s turnover differential (takeaways - giveaways) and its big play differential (big plays for - big plays against). Various sites have various definitions for what constitutes a big play. Our standard of measurement will be runs over 12 yards, and pass plays over 20 yards. As SportingCharts says, “Over the last 10+ seasons, a majority of teams that have won the Super Bowl finished the regular season in the Top 10 for Toxic Differential.”

TURNOVER DIFFERENTIAL

GamesCowboys Packers
 FORAGAINSTMARGIN FORAGAINSTMARGIN
Bears202Pats000
Eagles312Falcons101
Colts312Bills12-1
Washington413Bucs110
Lions312Lions12-1
Total15411 45-1

BIG PLAYS – PASSING GAME

GamesCowboys Packers
 FORAGAINSTMARGIN FORAGAINSTMARGIN
Bears24-2Pats633
Eagles532Falcons550
Colts523Bills23-1
Washington321Bucs45-1
Lions330Lions34-1
Total18144 20200

BIG PLAYS – RUNNING GAME

GamesCowboys Packers
 FORAGAINSTMARGIN FORAGAINSTMARGIN
Bears413Pats541
Eagles312Falcons633
Colts404Bills734
Washington23-1Bucs404
Lions220Lions45-1
Total1578 261511

The common narrative on why Dallas has a very good chance of pulling the upset in Green Bay is that their running game is built for the cold weather. However, the Big Play metrics from the last 5 games tells a different story. The team with the league’s leading rusher is far behind their opponent in explosive running plays. Eddie Lacy has been on a tear, and in cold weather, tackling is often times questionable. On the other hand, Dallas’ Big Play Differential, when looking at both passing and rushing, for and against, is better than the Packers. The Packers Defense gives up a fair share of big plays to their opponents. More than a fair share, actually.

When combined with Dallas’ dominating turnover differential strength over the last 5 games, the picture for the Toxic Differential advantage comes clear into focus.

In the regular season as a whole, Green Bay was third in the league in Toxic Differential with +37, well ahead of Dallas’ +23 which was good for 8th. But over the last 5 games including the Wild Card, Dallas is +23, while the Pack are only +10. Advantage, Dallas.

Green Zone Productivity

Everyone is familiar with the Red Zone; the portion of the field that lies inside the opponent’s 20 yard line. Barring a turnover (interception, fumble or downs) or a botched field goal, a team is guaranteed to come away with points if they enter an opponent’s Red Zone. The key is how often those points are the result of a touchdown or a field goal. The Green Zone extends that portion of the field out to the opponent’s 40 yard line. The 40 is generally the marker where coaches have to make the decision to go for it on fourth down, as it is right outside of “comfortable” field goal range. As such, it is a much better indicator of the congregation of several factors that come into play when defining an offense. The field is still open enough to be stretched, the cajona-levels of a coaching staff come into play and of course, player execution. Here’s a look at how each team has done in the Green Zone over their last 5 games.

Dallas’ Green Zone Conversion percentage has been outstanding over the last five contests. They score a touchdown 63% of the time, and put points on the board nearly 9 of every 10 trips. That’s amazing efficiency. On the other side of the ball, they’ve been just as outstanding in keeping points off the board. Dallas, 2nd in the league in turnovers on the season, has forced a turnover 27% of the time they’ve allowed an opponent inside the 40. They’ve only given up a touchdown on 48% of those drives.

 Cowboys Offense
GameTimes EnteredTouchdownsField Made/Att4th DownsTurnoversPunt
Bears852/22/201
Eagles651/10/000
Colts65 0/010
Washington623/30/001
Lions421/21/100
Totals30197/8312

By contrast, Green Bay’s offense in the Green Zone hasn’t been anywhere near Dallas’. They’ve only scored 10 touchdowns on the same number of trips, and missed four field goals. They’ve also turned the ball over four times.

 Packers Offense
GameTimes EnteredTouchdownsField Made/Att4th DownsTurnoversPunt
Patriots614/50/000
Falcons743/30/000
Bills512/30/010
Bucs612/30/110
Lions630/10/120
Totals301011/150/240

Defensively, the turnovers created by Dallas and the ones given up by Green Bay give a lot of hope. For a bend but don’t break defense, these numbers are paramount. If Dallas can avoid giving up the big play to Green Bay, they have shown a propensity to force a turnover once the field shrinks. Better yet, the Packers have shown the propensity to give up the ball after crossing midfield.

 Cowboys Defense
GameTimes EnteredTouchdownsField Made/Att4th DownsTurnoversPuntEnd of Half/Game
Bears540/03/310 
Eagles532/20/000 
Colts210/00/1101
Washington611/10/240 
Lions312/20/000 
Totals211053/660

On the flip side, the Packers have show a similar ability to keep opponent’s out of the end zone once they’ve breached the 40. The one advantage Dallas shows is the ability to turnover the opponent at a higher rate.

 Packers Defense
GameTimes EnteredTouchdownsField Made/Att4th DownsTurnoversPuntEnd of Half/Game
Patriots430/10/000 
Falcons751/22/200 
Bills4 4/40/000 
Bucs101/10/000 
Lions630/00/221 
Totals22116/82/421



DVOA is Football Outsiders proprietary metric that stands for Defense-Adjusted Value Over Average. It basically measures how much better a team (or player) is than the average team (or player) against the same opponent in the same game situations. Weighted DVOA puts more weight on the team’s recent performance, rather than weighing all games equally.

Dallas’ W-DVOA surged down the stretch. As the season moved along, Week 1 became less and less influential in describing the team that is playing now. That game’s DVOA is now “weighted” at only 9%, While Weeks 14-17 are weighted at a full 100%.



Heading into December, Green Bay’s Weighted DVOA was dominating Dallas’ 25.9% to just 5.9%. The Mean Wins expected out of the two teams had Green Bay a game and a half better with just four to play, 11.6 to 10.0. As they finished with the same final record, and with weighted DVOA’s in the same neighborhood, the contest looks much more competitive than it did back then.

Standard Statistics

Dallas Cowboys

Off Yds / GOff Pts / GDef Yds / GDef Pts / G
Total 383.6 29.2 355.1 22
Rank 7th 5th 19th 15th

 

Green Bay Packers

Off Yds / GOff Pts / GDef Yds / GDef Pts / G
Total 386.1 30.4 346.4 21.8
Rank6th 1st 15th 13th

Summary

Numbers never lie, but stats should never be looked at as an surefire predictor of how a game will play out. They simply provide a likely narrative for its outcome. Many times, a game could go in an entirely different direction, but when grouped into a season-long, or even periodic metric, the one game is seen as an outlier.

Overall though, these metrics seem to show that Dallas is playing at a higher level than Green Bay over the last five games for each team. While Green Bay is doing a slightly better job keeping their offensive drives alive, Dallas is slightly better at getting off the field on defense. The differences are miniscule. While Dallas has the advantage in Big Passing Play Differential, Green Bay owns it in Big Rushing Play. The key to the Toxic Differential is Dallas’ dominating Turnover advantage. That’s thanks to both holding onto the ball better and forcing the opponent to give up the rock. Finally, Dallas has performed much better than Green Bay once they cross into the Green Zone, or once their opponent has. They score touchdowns at almost a two-to-one ratio more than Green Bay, and do a better job at keeping points off the board once their opponent’s have breached.

Do these things guarantee a win? Of course not. They do, however, lay out the groundwork for what could be an upset in Lambeau Field.





CowboysHQ Top Stories

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GamesCowboys Packers
 MadeAttempt4D Conversions MadeAttempt4D Conversions
Bears9142/2Patriots7120/0
Eagles5130/0Falcons4140/0
Colts5100/0Bills6130/0
Washington4120/0Bucs8130/0
Lions8142/2Lionsn/an/an/a
 MadeAttemptPercentage MADEAttemptPercentage
Total316349% 255248%

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In their last five games, both teams are hovering around the 50% mark in keeping Drives Alive. The Packers have the slightest of edges, 51% - 49%.

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Drives Deaded

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On the flip side of Drive Alives, there are Drives Deaded… the ability to shut down an opponent’s drive on those crucial downs. After giving up three for three fourth down conversions to Chicago in their blowout victory, Dallas has clamped down, leaving opponents 0/4, for a total of 3 for 7 over the last five games. Meanwhile, the Packers are giving up fourth down conversions on a steady basis, 6 out of 8 attempts were successful over the last five contests.

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GamesCowboys Packers
 MadeAttempt4D Conversions MadeAttempt4D Conversions
Bears5103/3Patriots5101/1
Eagles5110/0Falcons8113/3
Colts5130/1Bills4160/0
Washington4120/2Bucs5141/1
Lions4110/1Lions5111/3
 MadeAttemptPercentage MadeAttemptPercentage
Total235740% 276244%



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Toxic Differentials

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Toxic Differential is a metric that started with Super Bowl winning head coach Brian Billick when he was the offensive coordinator during the Randy Moss era in Minnesota. It’s used to measure a team’s ability to create and prevent both turnovers and explosive plays. Toxic Differential is calculated by adding together a team’s turnover differential (takeaways - giveaways) and its big play differential (big plays for - big plays against). Various sites have various definitions for what constitutes a big play. Our standard of measurement will be runs over 12 yards, and pass plays over 20 yards. As SportingCharts says, “Over the last 10+ seasons, a majority of teams that have won the Super Bowl finished the regular season in the Top 10 for Toxic Differential.”

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\r\n TURNOVER DIFFERENTIAL \r\n

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GamesCowboys Packers
 FORAGAINSTMARGIN FORAGAINSTMARGIN
Bears202Pats000
Eagles312Falcons101
Colts312Bills12-1
Washington413Bucs110
Lions312Lions12-1
Total15411 45-1

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\r\n BIG PLAYS – PASSING GAME \r\n

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\r\n\r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n
GamesCowboys Packers
 FORAGAINSTMARGIN FORAGAINSTMARGIN
Bears24-2Pats633
Eagles532Falcons550
Colts523Bills23-1
Washington321Bucs45-1
Lions330Lions34-1
Total18144 20200

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\r\n BIG PLAYS – RUNNING GAME \r\n

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\r\n\r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n
GamesCowboys Packers
 FORAGAINSTMARGIN FORAGAINSTMARGIN
Bears413Pats541
Eagles312Falcons633
Colts404Bills734
Washington23-1Bucs404
Lions220Lions45-1
Total1578 261511

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The common narrative on why Dallas has a very good chance of pulling the upset in Green Bay is that their running game is built for the cold weather. However, the Big Play metrics from the last 5 games tells a different story. The team with the league’s leading rusher is far behind their opponent in explosive running plays. Eddie Lacy has been on a tear, and in cold weather, tackling is often times questionable. On the other hand, Dallas’ Big Play Differential, when looking at both passing and rushing, for and against, is better than the Packers. The Packers Defense gives up a fair share of big plays to their opponents. More than a fair share, actually.

When combined with Dallas’ dominating turnover differential strength over the last 5 games, the picture for the Toxic Differential advantage comes clear into focus.

\r\nIn the regular season as a whole, Green Bay was third in the league in Toxic Differential with +37, well ahead of Dallas’ +23 which was good for 8th. But over the last 5 games including the Wild Card, Dallas is +23, while the Pack are only +10. Advantage, Dallas.

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Green Zone Productivity

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Everyone is familiar with the Red Zone; the portion of the field that lies inside the opponent’s 20 yard line. Barring a turnover (interception, fumble or downs) or a botched field goal, a team is guaranteed to come away with points if they enter an opponent’s Red Zone. The key is how often those points are the result of a touchdown or a field goal. The Green Zone extends that portion of the field out to the opponent’s 40 yard line. The 40 is generally the marker where coaches have to make the decision to go for it on fourth down, as it is right outside of “comfortable” field goal range. As such, it is a much better indicator of the congregation of several factors that come into play when defining an offense. The field is still open enough to be stretched, the cajona-levels of a coaching staff come into play and of course, player execution. Here’s a look at how each team has done in the Green Zone over their last 5 games.

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Dallas’ Green Zone Conversion percentage has been outstanding over the last five contests. They score a touchdown 63% of the time, and put points on the board nearly 9 of every 10 trips. That’s amazing efficiency. On the other side of the ball, they’ve been just as outstanding in keeping points off the board. Dallas, 2nd in the league in turnovers on the season, has forced a turnover 27% of the time they’ve allowed an opponent inside the 40. They’ve only given up a touchdown on 48% of those drives.

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 Cowboys Offense
GameTimes EnteredTouchdownsField Made/Att4th DownsTurnoversPunt
Bears852/22/201
Eagles651/10/000
Colts65 0/010
Washington623/30/001
Lions421/21/100
Totals30197/8312

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By contrast, Green Bay’s offense in the Green Zone hasn’t been anywhere near Dallas’. They’ve only scored 10 touchdowns on the same number of trips, and missed four field goals. They’ve also turned the ball over four times.

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 Packers Offense
GameTimes EnteredTouchdownsField Made/Att4th DownsTurnoversPunt
Patriots614/50/000
Falcons743/30/000
Bills512/30/010
Bucs612/30/110
Lions630/10/120
Totals301011/150/240

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Defensively, the turnovers created by Dallas and the ones given up by Green Bay give a lot of hope. For a bend but don’t break defense, these numbers are paramount. If Dallas can avoid giving up the big play to Green Bay, they have shown a propensity to force a turnover once the field shrinks. Better yet, the Packers have shown the propensity to give up the ball after crossing midfield.

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 Cowboys Defense
GameTimes EnteredTouchdownsField Made/Att4th DownsTurnoversPuntEnd of Half/Game
Bears540/03/310 
Eagles532/20/000 
Colts210/00/1101
Washington611/10/240 
Lions312/20/000 
Totals211053/660

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On the flip side, the Packers have show a similar ability to keep opponent’s out of the end zone once they’ve breached the 40. The one advantage Dallas shows is the ability to turnover the opponent at a higher rate.

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 Packers Defense
GameTimes EnteredTouchdownsField Made/Att4th DownsTurnoversPuntEnd of Half/Game
Patriots430/10/000 
Falcons751/22/200 
Bills4 4/40/000 
Bucs101/10/000 
Lions630/00/221 
Totals22116/82/421



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Weighted DVOA

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DVOA is Football Outsiders proprietary metric that stands for Defense-Adjusted Value Over Average. It basically measures how much better a team (or player) is than the average team (or player) against the same opponent in the same game situations. Weighted DVOA puts more weight on the team’s recent performance, rather than weighing all games equally.

Dallas’ W-DVOA surged down the stretch. As the season moved along, Week 1 became less and less influential in describing the team that is playing now. That game’s DVOA is now “weighted” at only 9%, While Weeks 14-17 are weighted at a full 100%.

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[MEDIA:1457756]


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Heading into December, Green Bay’s Weighted DVOA was dominating Dallas’ 25.9% to just 5.9%. The Mean Wins expected out of the two teams had Green Bay a game and a half better with just four to play, 11.6 to 10.0. As they finished with the same final record, and with weighted DVOA’s in the same neighborhood, the contest looks much more competitive than it did back then.

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Standard Statistics

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\r\n Dallas Cowboys \r\n
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Off Yds / GOff Pts / GDef Yds / GDef Pts / G
Total 383.6 29.2 355.1 22
Rank 7th 5th 19th 15th
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\r\n Green Bay Packers \r\n
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Off Yds / GOff Pts / GDef Yds / GDef Pts / G
Total 386.1 30.4 346.4 21.8\t
Rank6th 1st 15th 13th

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Summary

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Numbers never lie, but stats should never be looked at as an surefire predictor of how a game will play out. They simply provide a likely narrative for its outcome. Many times, a game could go in an entirely different direction, but when grouped into a season-long, or even periodic metric, the one game is seen as an outlier.

Overall though, these metrics seem to show that Dallas is playing at a higher level than Green Bay over the last five games for each team. While Green Bay is doing a slightly better job keeping their offensive drives alive, Dallas is slightly better at getting off the field on defense. The differences are miniscule. While Dallas has the advantage in Big Passing Play Differential, Green Bay owns it in Big Rushing Play. The key to the Toxic Differential is Dallas’ dominating Turnover advantage. That’s thanks to both holding onto the ball better and forcing the opponent to give up the rock. Finally, Dallas has performed much better than Green Bay once they cross into the Green Zone, or once their opponent has. They score touchdowns at almost a two-to-one ratio more than Green Bay, and do a better job at keeping points off the board once their opponent’s have breached.

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Do these things guarantee a win? Of course not. They do, however, lay out the groundwork for what could be an upset in Lambeau Field.




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Coming down the stretch of the season, both the Dallas Cowboys and the Green Bay Packers had plenty to play for. The Packers entered December 9-3, with a one-game NFC North lead over the Detroit Lions, however had lost the first matchup between the teams and would have to face them again in the final four games.

Dallas on the other hand, entered the month 8-4 and a game behind the Philadelphia Eagles. They, too, had lost the first matchup with the rematch coming in the final four games of the season. Dallas was on the outside of the playoffs looking in. The sixth best team, by virtue of tiebreakers, fighting for five playoff berths (with the NFC South winner destined to be below .500 but still getting an automatic bid).

With the screws tightening on both teams, and having something to play for through the final game of the season, comparing the performances of the two foes from this Sunday’s Divisional Round makes perfect sense. Weighting the performances from later in the year gives a much better glimpse into the potential matchup then worrying about how Dallas did against San Francisco, or the Packers against Seattle way back in Week One.

For this week, the Advanced Stats Notebook will focus on the teams’ accomplishments during roughly the last quarter of the season. We know that both teams sit atop the rankings for EPA, Passer Rating Differential, ANY/A Differential… we’ve been tracking those all season. For a recap, check out last week’s Notebook that closed the book on the regular season.

The schedule of both teams match up rather well. Both teams played home games against the Detroit Lions, and both played home games against an AFC division winner (New England and Indianapolis). Both teams also faced one very good opponent that just missed the playoffs (Buffalo and Philadelphia) and both teams faced two bottom-tier teams (Chicago and Washington for Dallas, Tampa Bay and Atlanta for Green Bay). In essence, the two schedules were as identical as one could hope for, giving us the perfect opportunity to compare performances down the stretch.

Instead of using the standard measurement of third down conversions, shouldn’t fourth down conversions be included? If you choose to go for it on fourth, after failing to convert a third down, the drive still continues. Isn’t that ability what we try to capture with the third down conversion percentage stat? A team is given four downs to gain 10 yards before they have to give the ball back to the other team. IF that opportunity is converted on third or fourth down, that is still one opportunity converted. As such, all converted fourth downs have been added to converted third downs, on the same number of attempts, to better represent a team’s ability to keep drives alive. The number of attempts is not added.

In their last five games, both teams are hovering around the 50% mark in keeping Drives Alive. The Packers have the slightest of edges, 51% - 49%.

On the flip side of Drive Alives, there are Drives Deaded… the ability to shut down an opponent’s drive on those crucial downs. After giving up three for three fourth down conversions to Chicago in their blowout victory, Dallas has clamped down, leaving opponents 0/4, for a total of 3 for 7 over the last five games. Meanwhile, the Packers are giving up fourth down conversions on a steady basis, 6 out of 8 attempts were successful over the last five contests.


Toxic Differential is a metric that started with Super Bowl winning head coach Brian Billick when he was the offensive coordinator during the Randy Moss era in Minnesota. It’s used to measure a team’s ability to create and prevent both turnovers and explosive plays. Toxic Differential is calculated by adding together a team’s turnover differential (takeaways - giveaways) and its big play differential (big plays for - big plays against). Various sites have various definitions for what constitutes a big play. Our standard of measurement will be runs over 12 yards, and pass plays over 20 yards. As SportingCharts says, “Over the last 10+ seasons, a majority of teams that have won the Super Bowl finished the regular season in the Top 10 for Toxic Differential.”

The common narrative on why Dallas has a very good chance of pulling the upset in Green Bay is that their running game is built for the cold weather. However, the Big Play metrics from the last 5 games tells a different story. The team with the league’s leading rusher is far behind their opponent in explosive running plays. Eddie Lacy has been on a tear, and in cold weather, tackling is often times questionable. On the other hand, Dallas’ Big Play Differential, when looking at both passing and rushing, for and against, is better than the Packers. The Packers Defense gives up a fair share of big plays to their opponents. More than a fair share, actually.

When combined with Dallas’ dominating turnover differential strength over the last 5 games, the picture for the Toxic Differential advantage comes clear into focus.

In the regular season as a whole, Green Bay was third in the league in Toxic Differential with +37, well ahead of Dallas’ +23 which was good for 8th. But over the last 5 games including the Wild Card, Dallas is +23, while the Pack are only +10. Advantage, Dallas.

Everyone is familiar with the Red Zone; the portion of the field that lies inside the opponent’s 20 yard line. Barring a turnover (interception, fumble or downs) or a botched field goal, a team is guaranteed to come away with points if they enter an opponent’s Red Zone. The key is how often those points are the result of a touchdown or a field goal. The Green Zone extends that portion of the field out to the opponent’s 40 yard line. The 40 is generally the marker where coaches have to make the decision to go for it on fourth down, as it is right outside of “comfortable” field goal range. As such, it is a much better indicator of the congregation of several factors that come into play when defining an offense. The field is still open enough to be stretched, the cajona-levels of a coaching staff come into play and of course, player execution. Here’s a look at how each team has done in the Green Zone over their last 5 games.

Dallas’ Green Zone Conversion percentage has been outstanding over the last five contests. They score a touchdown 63% of the time, and put points on the board nearly 9 of every 10 trips. That’s amazing efficiency. On the other side of the ball, they’ve been just as outstanding in keeping points off the board. Dallas, 2nd in the league in turnovers on the season, has forced a turnover 27% of the time they’ve allowed an opponent inside the 40. They’ve only given up a touchdown on 48% of those drives.

By contrast, Green Bay’s offense in the Green Zone hasn’t been anywhere near Dallas’. They’ve only scored 10 touchdowns on the same number of trips, and missed four field goals. They’ve also turned the ball over four times.

Defensively, the turnovers created by Dallas and the ones given up by Green Bay give a lot of hope. For a bend but don’t break defense, these numbers are paramount. If Dallas can avoid giving up the big play to Green Bay, they have shown a propensity to force a turnover once the field shrinks. Better yet, the Packers have shown the propensity to give up the ball after crossing midfield.

On the flip side, the Packers have show a similar ability to keep opponent’s out of the end zone once they’ve breached the 40. The one advantage Dallas shows is the ability to turnover the opponent at a higher rate.



DVOA is Football Outsiders proprietary metric that stands for Defense-Adjusted Value Over Average. It basically measures how much better a team (or player) is than the average team (or player) against the same opponent in the same game situations. Weighted DVOA puts more weight on the team’s recent performance, rather than weighing all games equally.

Dallas’ W-DVOA surged down the stretch. As the season moved along, Week 1 became less and less influential in describing the team that is playing now. That game’s DVOA is now “weighted” at only 9%, While Weeks 14-17 are weighted at a full 100%.



Heading into December, Green Bay’s Weighted DVOA was dominating Dallas’ 25.9% to just 5.9%. The Mean Wins expected out of the two teams had Green Bay a game and a half better with just four to play, 11.6 to 10.0. As they finished with the same final record, and with weighted DVOA’s in the same neighborhood, the contest looks much more competitive than it did back then.

 


Numbers never lie, but stats should never be looked at as an surefire predictor of how a game will play out. They simply provide a likely narrative for its outcome. Many times, a game could go in an entirely different direction, but when grouped into a season-long, or even periodic metric, the one game is seen as an outlier.

Overall though, these metrics seem to show that Dallas is playing at a higher level than Green Bay over the last five games for each team. While Green Bay is doing a slightly better job keeping their offensive drives alive, Dallas is slightly better at getting off the field on defense. The differences are miniscule. While Dallas has the advantage in Big Passing Play Differential, Green Bay owns it in Big Rushing Play. The key to the Toxic Differential is Dallas’ dominating Turnover advantage. That’s thanks to both holding onto the ball better and forcing the opponent to give up the rock. Finally, Dallas has performed much better than Green Bay once they cross into the Green Zone, or once their opponent has. They score touchdowns at almost a two-to-one ratio more than Green Bay, and do a better job at keeping points off the board once their opponent’s have breached.

Do these things guarantee a win? Of course not. They do, however, lay out the groundwork for what could be an upset in Lambeau Field.


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