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Sunday, September 30, 2012
Stats & Info preview: Bears at Cowboys

By By Jason York, ESPN Stats & Information

Two numbers should stick out to the Dallas Cowboys this week: Four and five. The Chicago Bears, who lead the NFL in sacks entering Week 4 with 14, have collected 12 of them using four or fewer pass rushers, including five in each of their last two games. Speaking of five, Bears quarterback Jay Cutler has the lowest Total QBR (7.4) of any passer in the league this season when facing five or more pass rushers.

Another important number this week for both teams is three. Since the current playoff format was adopted in 1990, teams that started 3-1 made the playoffs 64.8 percent of the time (118 of 182). Teams that started 2-2 made the playoffs 35.3 percent of the time (71 of 201). The Bears and Cowboys are both 2-1.

Here are three other statistical areas to watch Sunday:

- Entering Week 4, Cutler was tied for the league lead in interceptions with six, including five in the past two games. Five of the six interceptions Cutler has thrown this season have been in formations that feature three or more wide receivers, which is already two more than he had all of last season in such sets. In addition, Cutler has been sacked once every 8.3 dropbacks this season in such formations, a rate 6.3 dropbacks worse than last season. The Cowboys have picked up five of their seven sacks this season when teams have used three or more wide receivers.

- With Tony Romo facing a Bears team that leads the NFL in sacks, he could be on the run a lot. Romo has thrown a league-leading 12 touchdowns outside the pocket without an interception since the start of the 2010 season. The Bears are tied for the most interceptions – seven - on passes outside the pocket in that span.

- Cowboys running back DeMarco Murray is averaging just 2.7 yards per carry in his last two games after a promising start to the season. Murray, however, could get a boost against the Bears’ rushing defense. The Bears are vulnerable to rushing plays up the middle, as they have allowed 4.3 yards an attempt on such plays. In his career so far, Murray is averaging 5.5 yards on rushing attempts up the middle.