Mickey Spagnola offers some stats explaining why the 9-0 Indianapolis Colts are only favored by a single point when they visit the 5-4 Dallas Cowboys Sunday.
Ramiro’s Boy: OK, we know all about “Archie’s boy,” Manning leading the NFL with a 104.5 quarterback rating. But do you realize Ramiro Romo’s boy, Antonio, is second right now? OK, I understand he’s only thrown 128 passes, nearly 200 less than Manning – but it says right here in the NFL stats he’s the second-ranked quarterback with a 101.2 rating. No great divide, right? (Wink, wink.)
No Backseat: Been hearing all week how the Colts have the second-ranked offense in the league. Yeah, well, the Cowboys have the sixth-ranked offense. Know what the difference is? But 6.7 yards a game. That’s nothing. And how about this: The Cowboys have the third-ranked defense. The Colts are 16th. So take that!
All Points Bulletin: Yeah, well those rankings might be about yards, but what about points? This Colts team scores beaucoup points, right? Not so fast there, buddy. The Colts have scored 249 points so far this season. Your Dallas Cowboys? Try 250. No kidding, look it up. They each average about 27.7 points a game. And defensively, not even close. The Colts have given up 189 points. The Cowboys, 174. So there.
Huge Spreads: Don’t think just because the Colts have won nine consecutive games that they have been dominating this year. They win, no begrudging that. But of their nine victories, seven have been by no more than seven points. In fact, four have been by no more than three points. The only big wins have been over Houston, 43-24, and Washington, 36-22, and the Cowboys have done that. As for the Cowboys, well, would you believe all five victories have been by at least 17 points, as many 17-point victories in nine games as they’ve had in the past five seasons? Right on.
First Dowwwwnnnnn: This is rather incredible. The Colts convert a league-high 55.8 percent of their third downs into first downs. Man, a 45-percent rate is good. So getting them on a three-and-out is rare and just getting them to punt at some point would be a major accomplishment. But, guess who is second when it comes to third-down percentage? That’s right, the Cowboys are, converting at a 49.2 rate. In fact, the Cowboys have converted 64 third-down opportunities into first downs while the Colts have 58 times. Go ahead.
Very interesting, indeed. And, of course, the Cowboys have done much better offensively since switching to Romo three and a half games ago.
I’m rooting for the Cowboys, of course, and think they have a legitimate shot to win. I’d bet on the Colts, though, if forced to do so and given only a one point spread.
UPDATE: I should note that this matchup was my preseason pick for the Super Bowl. The Colts pick looks a lot better than the Cowboys pick right now, mostly because the Dallas D has not emerged as the dominating force that they should be “on paper.”
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