Dallas Cowboys: Final Word NFC 2012 Week 9

Final Word: NFC East

November, 3, 2012
11/03/12
10:00
AM ET
NFC Final Word: East | West | North | South AFC: East | West | North | South

Five nuggets of knowledge about Week 9:

[+] EnlargeRobert Griffin III
Paul Frederiksen/US PresswireRobert Griffin III is averaging nearly five yards per carry this season on designed-run plays.
Dual-threat QBs: The Washington Redskins' Robert Griffin III has more carries on designed-run plays than any other quarterback in the league this year. According to ESPN Stats & Information's Next Level numbers, Griffin has 41 designed-run plays, averaging 4.7 yards per carry. The Carolina Panthers' Cam Newton is second in the league in designed-run plays for quarterbacks. Carolina is Washington's opponent on Sunday. Newton has 34 designed-run plays this year, averaging 5.4 yards per carry (and outdoing Griffin). Griffin has 29 other rushing attempts, and Newton has 17.

Keep your eye on the ball: The New York Giants lead the NFL this year with 24 takeaways, the most by a team through its first eight games of a season since the 2009 Saints. The Giants this week will host the Pittsburgh Steelers, who have turned the ball over just six times this season, tied with the Houston Texans for the lowest number of turnovers in the league. Something's got to give!

Getting to Big Ben: The Giants have shown major improvement in their four-man pass rush in recent weeks. Over their first five games, they were averaging a sack every 39.3 drop-backs when sending four or fewer pass-rushers. But in their past three games, the Giants are recording a sack every 12.2 drop-backs when sending four or fewer. Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger is notoriously difficult to sack because he excels at dodging the rush and extending plays, so the Giants may focus more this week on containing him. And if they do so by pressuring him with their front four, as they prefer to do, it will put more pressure on their coverage units to stay with the receivers longer than usual.

Slaying the unbeatens: Sunday night's game in Atlanta features the Dallas Cowboys against the 7-0 Falcons; it will be the fourth game the Cowboys have played since 1991 against an opponent that was 7-0 or better. The Cowboys are 3-0 in those games since '91, though if the Falcons lose they may find a silver lining. Each of those other three teams went on to win the Super Bowl.

Offensive opportunity: The Philadelphia Eagles' offense has been sluggish this year. Behind a struggling offensive line that's missing three starters, quarterback Michael Vick has been sacked or put under duress on 32.5 percent of his drop-backs this year (according to ESPN Stats & Information), the highest percentage in the league. And running back LeSean McCoy has been hit in the backfield on 24.4 percent of his rushing attempts, the highest rate in the league. However, Monday night's game in New Orleans offers the Eagles their best chance of the year to get the offense right. The 2-5 Saints are the first team in NFL history to allow at least 400 yards of offense in seven straight games; plus, they've allowed 3,323 yards, the most ever in the first seven games of an NFL season.

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