Friday, October 21, 2011
Final Word: NFC East
By Dan Graziano
Five nuggets of knowledge about Week 7:
Careful going after Cam: The Washington Redskins love to pressure the opposing quarterback with outside linebackers Brian Orakpo and Ryan Kerrigan. But they might want to take a little more care than usual this week when taking off after Carolina Panthers rookie quarterback Cam Newton. According to ESPN Stats and Information, Newton has been "under duress" on the second-most dropbacks of any quarterback in the league this year and has performed very well in such situations. His 46.9 completion percentage when under duress ranks fifth in the league among quarterbacks with at least 20 such attempts, and his 7.2 yards-per-attempt average ranks fourth.
Ryan Kerrigan and his fellow Redskins linebackers could have their hands full with Carolina QB Cam Newton.
Ride the Torain: Ryan Torain was the Redskins' starting running back last week against the Eagles after Tim Hightower had started each of the team's first four games. But Torain never got going as the Eagles jumped out to an early lead and focused on stopping the run, limiting Torain to 22 yards on 10 carries and the Redskins as a team to 42 yards on 14 carries. Torain should get the nod again, and assuming the game doesn't get away from Washington this time, he should expect a heavier workload. In five career games in which he's had at least 19 carries, Torain has rushed for an average of 119.4 yards per game and cleared the 100-yard mark four times.
Taking the fourth: To say Cowboys games get decided in the fourth quarter is an understatement. Dallas has led in the fourth quarter in each of its three losses this year, and it has trailed in the fourth quarter of each of its two victories. The Cowboys also have played 11 games in a row, dating to last November, that have been decided by four points or fewer. They are 5-6 in those games and surely hoping that streak ends with an easy victory Sunday against the winless St. Louis Rams.
A lot for a little: According to ESPN Stats & Info, the Cowboys are one of seven NFL teams averaging more than 400 yards of total offense per game this season and are second in the league in average time of possession per game at 33:06. Yet, the Cowboys rank only 15th in points per game at 23.0. The two main reasons for that are a third-down conversion rate of 34.4 percent that ranks 21st in the league and a red-zone efficiency rating of 33.3 percent that's tied for 30th with the winless Dolphins and ahead of only those aforementioned winless Rams.
The fewer the better?: Out of offensive formations with more than two wide receivers this year, Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo has a completion percentage of 64.6 percent, a 6.8 yards-per-attempt average, one touchdown, two interceptions and two completions longer than 30 yards. However, in sets using fewer than three wide receivers, he's got a 66.4 completion percentage, a 9.3 yards-per-attempt average, seven touchdowns, four interceptions and eight completions of 30 or more yards. Odd numbers, since it would seem additional wideouts would increase your potential for big pass plays, but I wonder if the attention tight end Jason Witten gets from defenses when the Cowboys use only two wide receivers might have something to do with it.