Week 13 DVOA Preview: Chiefs Slide, Cowboys Ambush

Cowboys RB Ezekiel Elliott
Cowboys RB Ezekiel Elliott
Photo: USA Today Sports Images

A funny thing happened in the fourth quarter of Sunday night football. The Dallas Cowboys scored 33 points in a single quarter. Their defense forced four turnovers. And the Cowboys used that ambush to slip past the Philadelphia Eagles and into second place behind the Buffalo Bills in the Week 13 pre-MNF DVOA rankings.

The Cowboys DVOA climbed from 26.0% to 31.1% thanks in part to that fourth-quarter surge in a 54-19 victory over the lowly Indianapolis Colts. The Eagles, who trounced the Tennessee Titans 35-10, rose from 26.9% to 30.0%: fine work, but not enough to hold off the Cowboys' late-night gallop. 

The Eagles still lead the NFL with a +13 net takeaway differential, but the Cowboys are now second at +9. With three more sacks on Sunday night, the Cowboys now lead the NFL by a wide margin with 48 sacks; the Eagles are second at 42.

It's worth noting that the Cowboys' fourth-quarter explosion against the Colts should not be considered "garbage-time production" as the score was 21-19 entering the fourth quarter. Furthermore, "garbage time" dominance (or extreme submission) still somewhat predictive. The Cowboys win on Sunday night was closer than the score suggests, but many final-score blowouts are. DVOA counts everything, even the stuff that happens after many of us (ahem) sneak off to bed. 

The Eagles, by contrast, benched Jalen Hurts and their starters midway through the fourth quarter of their blowout victory. Should they be penalized for taking their foot off the gas? No one is penalizing anyone for anything (the Eagles DVOA went up), and every team is playing to win a Super Bowl, not a DVOA crown.