The DC Times

A New Way to Look at the Cowboys, NFL, and Fantasy Football

By Jonathan Bales

Running the Numbers: Not All Penalties Created Equal

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In what I promise will be my last article about penalties in at least, say, a week, I took a final look at the Cowboys’ 2012 penalty issues.

In 2012, the effects were greater than ever before with successful teams like the Colts, Falcons, Broncos, Patriots and Packers ranked in the top 10 in penalty-yard differential and poor squads like the Rams, Lions, Bills, Jaguars and, yes, your Dallas Cowboys all ranked in the bottom 10 in penalty-yard differential. Overall, top-10 teams in terms of penalty yards won an average of 9.6 games, while the bottom 10 teams averaged only 7.1 wins.

This year wasn’t an aberration for Dallas, either. Over the past six seasons, the Cowboys have ranked in the bottom six in the NFL each year in total penalties. That’s six straight seasons ranked 27th or worse! If there’s ever been evidence that penalties remain relatively stable from year to year (they do), the Cowboys are it.

It’s pretty remarkable that the Cowboys have been able to overcome the penalties to post a 55-41 record since 2007, but it’s still frustrating to wonder what could have been. Well, by tracking the situations in which the Cowboys’ penalties have come over the past six years, we can calculate how many wins they’ve forfeited over that time – exactly what “could have been.” Certain penalties, say an offsides penalty on third-and-1, have affected the Cowboys’ chances of winning more than others. All told, the ’Boys have “lost” just under three extra games due solely to penalties, or about half a game per year. Put another way, Dallas has suffered a 50 percent chance of losing an extra game each season simply because of penalties.

Check out the whole article at DallasCowboys.com.

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