The Saints won easily at home last week 31-17 over Atlanta. While the final yards per play were 5.7yppl to 5.3yppl, the game wasn’t really that close. Atlanta threw the ball 29 more times while NO ran the ball 15 more times. Yes, Atlanta was minus three in turnovers, including some within the red zone. But, you got the feeling watching the game that NO could have thrown the ball a lot more and scored at will if they wanted to. They basically took it easy and did just enough to win the game comfortably. NO out rushed Atlanta 4.8ypr to 1.6ypr and out passed them 6.8yps to 6.4yps. They sacked Atlanta six times.
Dallas defeated Washington 31-23 and out gained the Redskins 5.9yppl to 5.4yppl. They out rushed them 4.3ypr to 4.0ypr and out passed them 7.4yps to 6.1yps. Dallas was plus three in turnovers as well. The Redskins scored two touchdowns on drives that started at the Dallas 25 and 44 yard lines. They also scored a touchdown that started at their own 47 and a field goal that started at their own 46 so Washington didn’t have to drive the field much to score their points. Dallas did pick up seven points on a drive that started at the Washington 17 yard line.
The Saints average just 4.3ypr against teams allowing 4.6ypr but are throwing the ball for 8.3yps against teams allowing just 6.8yps. Overall, they average 6.4yppl against teams allowing 5.9yppl. The rush defense still only allows 3.6ypr against teams averaging 4.3ypr but the pass defense is giving up 7.4yps against teams averaging 6.8yps. Overall, NO allows 6.1yppl against teams averaging 5.8yppl. But, their ability to slow the game down by running it has helped them allow only 23 points per game against teams that average 25 points per game.
Dallas averages 4.9ypr against teams allowing 4.5ypr. While the Cowboys are still below average throwing the ball, they are only 0.5yps below average since picking up Amari Cooper compared with their season long numbers of 0.8yps below average. The defense allows just 3.7ypr against teams averaging 4.4ypr but is slightly below average defending the pass at 6.6yps against teams averaging 6.4yps. Overall, they allow 5.4yppl against teams averaging 5.6yppl.
For NO LT Terron Armstead is out.
For Dallas WR Tavon Austin, DE David Irving, LB Sean Lee and TE Geoff Swaim are out. LT Tyron Smith is questionable and will be a game time decision after not practicing all week. The Cowboys also list two other guards as questionable.
New Orleans qualifies in a road let down situation, which is 69-27-4 and plays against them here. Dallas also qualifies in a great fundamental rushing situation, which is 97-37-4. This game also qualifies in an under situation, which is 51-17-2. My numbers favor NO by only two points and project about 51.6 points.
This is by far and away the toughest test to date for Dallas. But, there appears to be some value on the Cowboys simply because of how hot the Saints have been. In addition their last two games have come at home and been big wins. All that has added a premium on the Saints if you want to play them. These teams have some similarities in that their best defense is their offense. Both of these teams run the ball at a high rate to protect their defense. The Cowboys defense is better so doesn’t need as much protection but the run games of both offenses have helped their respective defenses. Against the best teams they have faced on the road this year the Saints have been out gained at Baltimore and Minnesota. Some of that is because NO has run the ball 55% of the time in those games. But, they only won at Baltimore by one point and although they won at Minnesota by ten points, two plays turned their fortunes around in that game. Down by three points late in the first half with Minnesota driving to potentially go up by ten points, they fumbled in the red zone and the Saints returned the ball deep into Minnesota territory. They ultimately scored a touchdown just before halftime and went in up four points rather than down six to ten points. They then picked off a pass early in the third quarter and returned it for a touchdown. Dallas has enough defense and if NO again goes ball control in this game it is likely to be another close game on the road for the Saints. The Saints always have the ability to win by margin but this game sets up perfect for a home dog cover. Don’t be surprised if Dallas pulls off the upset. NEW ORLEANS 27 DALLAS 24 Final Score (Dallas 13 New Orleans 10)