Cowboys are strong after bye weeks
Here are three other statistical areas to watch Sunday:
* The Ravens already have a league-leading 30 plays of 20-plus yards this season, which is more than halfway to last season’s total of 57 such plays that ranked them in the bottom half of the NFL. The Ravens’ Joe Flacco is the only NFL quarterback whose average pass is traveling more than 10 yards downfield (10.5). Tim Tebow is the only quarterback over the last five years to finish the season with a higher average throw distance (2011, 12.3). Wide receiver Torrey Smith has been the big-play threat for the Ravens. Smith has been targeted 18 times on passes at 15 yards downfield this season at an average distance of 30.9 yards, which is the highest in the league (minimum 12 targets). Smith also has five 30-yard receptions on such passes, which is second in the NFL.
* Cowboys linebacker Anthony Spencer is listed as questionable with a pectoral strain and his absence could affect the Cowboys chances to limit the big plays from the Ravens in their passing game. In 71 plays with Spencer off the field this season, opponents are averaging 9.5 yards per pass attempt compared with 6.2 yards in 155 plays with him on it. The number of dropbacks per sack for opposing quarterbacks also increases dramatically with Spencer off the field (11.9 to 17.0).
* The Cowboys have used three-plus wide receiver formations on 57.3 percent of their plays this season, up from 36.4 percent last season, and have been predictable from these sets. Tony Romo has attempted 72.2 percent of his passes when he has three or more wide receivers on the field and has thrown seven of his eight interceptions in such formations. Romo’s Total QBR in three-receiver formations is only 35.8 this season, which is seventh worst in the NFL. Last season, Romo’s QBR in such formations was 77.5 and that was only behind Drew Brees (88.7) and Aaron Rodgers (86.4).
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