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A Cowboys win could benefit Falcons

11/3/2012

The Dallas Cowboys have a chance to knock the Atlanta Falcons from the ranks of the undefeated, and if history is any indication, the Falcons’ first loss could be beneficial to them in the end. Since 1991, the Cowboys are 3-0 against teams that are 7-0 or better. Moreover, each of those three teams that the Cowboys defeated went on to win the Super Bowl that season.

The Cowboys should be looking forward to the play of quarterback Tony Romo in November. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, Romo has the best record in the month of November (19-2) among quarterbacks who have made at least 15 November starts.

Speaking of great records, Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan is 15-0 in games when he has at least three touchdown passes, including 4-0 in 2012. Ryan also won his 50th game in his 69th career start last week. Only Tom Brady, who reached 50 wins in 65 games, was faster among active quarterbacks.

Here are three other statistical areas to watch Sunday:

• Romo has thrown a league-high 13 interceptions this season and six of those interceptions have been when he is under duress this season. Romo had only thrown three interceptions under duress, which is defined as being forced to move or alter a throw due to pressure, the previous three seasons. Five of the 10 interceptions the Falcons have this season have come when they have put the opposing quarterback under duress. Since the start of the 2009 season, the Falcons have 20 interceptions when the quarterback is under duress, which is second in the league to only the Green Bay Packers.

• The Cowboys have sent five or more rushers 27.8 percent of the time this season, down from a 34.5 percent rate in 2011. The Cowboys might want to increase the rate, as they’ve posted the second-best Total QBR (11.7) when using such pressure and recorded a sack every 8.4 dropbacks.

• Downfield passing and passing in the final two minutes of each half have been two areas of high performance for Ryan this season. Ryan has the second-best completion percentage (58.0) in the NFL on throws more than 10 yards downfield. Ryan had finished 19th or worse in each of the last three seasons on such throws. Ryan has also completed 78.8 percent of his passes (26-of-33) in the last two minutes of the half this season, best in the NFL. Before 2012, Ryan completed 49.8 percent of his throws in those situations.

Most interceptions when under duress this season

Tony Romo 6*

Philip Rivers 4

Christian Ponder 4

Michael Vick 3

Russell Wilson 3

* 3 Int from 2009-2011