Hog Heaven thinks there are three stats to worth watching in pro football. They are:
1. QB Passer Rating Differential
2. Turnover Differential
3. Defensive Third Down Conversions Allowed
Those stats led us to project a narrow win over the Eagles last Sunday. Boy, were we wrong, in a good way.
The Passer Rating between Robert Griffin III and Nick Foles was laughably different (158.3 vs. 40.4). The Redskins forced three turnovers, the Eagles none. For once, Washington did a better job on third down stops (36% allowed) than the opponent (45% allowed).
Philadelphia is unraveling before our eyes. It's hard to watch a proud franchise go through that. Most Hog Heaven readers do not share the sympathy. The Dallas Cowboys are not unraveling. They are a more severe test for the Washington RGIIIs, for what would the 'Skins be without RGIII.
What do the three stats worth watching signal for Redskins at Cowboys tomorrow afternoon?
QB Passer Rating Differential
Redskins QBR 98.8, Opponents QBR 89.1; Differential +9.7
Cowboys QBR 87.7, Opponents QBR 90.7; Differential -3.0
When was the last time we saw the Redskins passing game out-performing the Cowboys' game? The Redskins show up well because Griffin III throws few inceptions. The Cowboys struggle on offense, I don't put all that on Tony Romo, the quarterback everyone including Cowboys fans love to hate. Cowboys receivers are much better than Redskins receivers are, but they tune out at critical times. Dallas running game isn't balancing the offense. Thus, Romo has as many picks (13) as TD passes.
The Redskins went into the Eagles game allowing opposing quarterbacks a passer rating of 95.4. The Eagles secondary was as bad as the Redskins were good. Romo is no Nick Foles. The Redskins are without Brandon Meriweather. I never thought I'd write that and mean it as a significant loss of talent. Meriweather, like the rest of Mike Shanahan's 2012 free agent class, just seems snake bit.
Cold Hard Football Facts calls the QBR Differential a meaningful stat with a reliability factor of 65 percent. CHFF means that to apply over the course of a game, but the pregame total hints at what to expect.
In spite of the Eagles-fueled differential, I'm calling it a push between Romo and Robert Griffin III.
You'd think Tony Romo's interceptions are the problem, but not so. The Cowboys forced six turnovers in 10 games, while committing 20 of its own. The Redskins forced 16 turnovers. Lets stop calling the Redskins defense "bad" and start to call them "disruptive." Both of the teams in last season's Super Bowl had bad defenses. Both were disruptive.
See? Jim Haslett gets it. Why can't the rest of us?
Defensive third Downs Allowed
The Redskins showed well in this category against Philly, but the Eagles couldn't get out of its own way on offense. We can't say the 'Skins "improved," not when the Eagles held the ball for 19:11 of the first half.
That's a problem. Dallas isn't running well, but may not need to in order to keep RGIII and Washington's offense on the sideline. The Cowboys are going to possess the ball for longer than the Redskins will. For Washington to have a shot – and they do have a shot – they have to make big plays and force turnovers. Same as always.
Dallas is the 3-point favorite at home. The Cowboys win 58 percent of the simulations at Accuscore who notes that turnovers factor big in games as close as this. My Magic 8 Ball likes the 'Skins over the 'Boys – "it is decidedly so." (Woo-hoo!)
The good news? I asked it twice. The 8 Ball has been correct two weeks in a row.
HAIL and Happy Thanksgiving.
Image: Redskins-Cowboys GAMEDAY cover from Hog Heaven's personal library
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