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

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Cowboys Lucky to Be 2-2?

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At Dallas News, I debated whether or not the Cowboys are lucky to be 2-2:

Using points scored and allowed, here are the “Pythagorean Wins” for the NFC East.

Team Record Pythagorean Wins
Dallas Cowboys 2-2 2.47
Philadelphia Eagles 1-3 1.25
Washington Redskins 1-3 1.52
New York Giants 0-4 0.45

Another way of looking at these numbers is this: if the teams played the first quarter of the season 1,000 times with the same number of points for and against that we’ve seen in 2013, what would be their average number of wins? If the ‘Boys scored 104 points and allowed 85 points over the course of 1,000 seasons, their average win total would be somewhere around 2.47.

With this methodology, you can see Dallas has actually been quite superior to their division rivals. Even though their most likely record is 2-2—the same as the probable record for the Redskins given their 1.52 expectation—the ‘Boys have played a little better than their record suggests.

Another way to analyze team strength is to examine net expected points. Expected points is a calculation of how many points a team should have scored (or allowed) based on how well they played from play to play. The metric uses actual past game data, so it’s really accurate.

Team Expected Points Expected Points Allowed Adjusted Pythagorean Wins
Dallas Cowboys 97.3 85.5 2.30
Philadelphia Eagles 116.2 130.4 1.73
Washington Redskins 97.0 107.4 1.76
New York Giants 47.7 100.8 0.58

Again, the Cowboys come out on top. However, you can see the Cowboys’ win expectation drops when we analyze them in terms of expected points, whereas the expectations for the other three teams all rise.

That means that while the Cowboys have still played the best football in the NFC East through four games, the Eagles and Redskins, in particular, aren’t that far behind.

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