With the Jacksonville Jaguars coming to Arlington for their matchup with the 2-3 Cowboys, here are some important numbers to consider.
The Cowboys and Jaguars have matched up on 6 previous occasions, with the series currently deadlocked at 3 wins apiece. Jacksonville has won two of the previous 3 games, with the most recent contest being the London game from 2014 -Tony Romo’s first game back from a fractured transverse process.
The Jags are 3-2 overall this season with wins against the Giants, Patriots, and Jets, and losses against the Titans (at home) and the Chiefs (on the road). Dallas, meanwhile, is 2-3 with both wins coming at home and all three loses occurring on the road. Speaking of Dallas…
Despite the promise surrounding the Cowboys’ young secondary, as well as the long-awaited emergence of Byron Jones, the unit has allowed a completion percentage of 72.5% through 5 weeks. In addition to that, Dallas, as a team, has just 1 interception on the season, that being Xavier Woods’ pick in the closing seconds of regulation last week at Houston.
It’s said the “money down” in the NFL is third down, and the Jacksonville Jaguars are known for their elite defense. On the season, Jacksonville is holding its opposition to a third down conversion rate of less than 31%. That’s outrageously good. To contrast that with Dallas, the Cowboys have converted a mere 28% of their third down attempts, comfortably placing them in the cellar of the league in that category.
The Jaguars have the third-ranked pass defense in the NFL, and with corners like Jalen Ramsey and A.J. Bouye this hardly comes as a surprise. Dallas, meanwhile, has the 29th rated pass offense, an almost comical disadvantage.
These figures don’t paint an optimistic picture for the Cowboys, but if there is one place Dallas can possibly make some headway, its’s through its running game. The Jaguar defense is the 14th rated run defense (still upper half of the league) rushing defense this season, allowing 4 yards per carry with a long of 68 yards (given up to Saquon Barkley in the opener), 3 touchdowns, and 101.2 total yards per game. They’ve also forced zero fumbles from opposing running backs.
Jacksonville sports the 11th rated passing offense despite having the much-maligned Blake Bortles under center.
In total, and even without Leonard Fournette in the backfield, this game feels like one Jacksonville wins in a lowing-scoring affair. While Dallas has been markedly better at home this season, the passing game has remained underwhelming, featuring no one receiver with at least 200 receiving yards through five weeks for the Cowboys.
For Dallas to win, Dak Prescott and his receivers will have to be able to offer some help to the running game. Ezekiel Elliott is one of the league’s best backs, and in fact is the league’s leader in rushing yards by a comfortable margin, but as we saw last week, a talented defense can neutralize his impact by stacking the box and winning the war in the trenches. As good as Jacksonville is, its defensive front is not as strong as Houston’s, with nothing quite as good as JJ Watt or Jadeveon Clowney to throw at the Dallas o-line.
For the Jags to win, the defense will need to smother Dak Prescott and his receivers, making the Cowboys attack one-dimensional and trying to force the home team to play from behind -a considerable weakness for a team averaging just 16.6 points per game.
The current line for the game is Jacksonville -3.