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How advanced stats see Cowboys-Chiefs Week 11 matchup

The NFL’s Week 11 slate features a matchup of two explosive offenses as the Dallas Cowboys travel to Arrowhead Stadium to take on the Kansas City Chiefs. The Cowboys enter the game with a 7-2 record and are coming off of an impressive, 43-3 home win against the Atlanta Falcons. The Cowboys scored on the opening possession and never looked back, putting up 431 yards of offense and winning both the turnover battle and time of possession by wide margins.

The 6-4 Chiefs had a dominant performance of their own as they beat down the Las Vegas Raiders, 41-14. Any win over a divisional opponent is a good one, but doing so in a lopsided affair, is even better. The Chiefs gained over 500 yards of total offense and won their turnover battle and time of possession as well.

With both teams coming off of highly productive weeks, this game does not lack in storylines.

Notably, quarterbacks Patrick Mahomes and Dak Prescott will play each other for the first time in their careers. Both QBs are MVP candidates and together have combined for 45 touchdown passes. Head coach Mike McCarthy and Andy Reid have plenty of experience against each other going back to playoff matchups in their previous roles with the Philadelphia Eagles and Green Bay Packers.

Both teams have young linebackers who are off to terrific starts to their careers in Micah Parsons and Nick Bolton. They each feature explosive wide recievers (Tyreek Hill, CeeDee Lamb, Michael Gallup and Amari Cooper) matched with strong tight end play by Travis Kelce and Dalton Schultz.

Let’s open up the Advanced Stat Notebook to see how both teams have performed this season using advanced analytics. Here’s a review of four key metrics to see if DVOA, ANY/A, Toxicity and EPA give the Cowboys reasons to feel confident about picking up win No. 8 on the season.

Defense-Adjusted Value Over Average (DVOA) – Football Outsiders

DVOA is a metric which measures the success of each play as compared to league average using percentage points above or below average. The metric measures down, distance, field location, quarter and quality of opponent.

With DVOA, teams are looking for a higher percentage offensively and a lower percentage defensively. On offense and special teams, the objective is to perform above league average while defenses are looking to force their opponents to perform below league average.

Information via Football Outsiders.

DVOA: Offense

While the Cowboys have dominated in offensive DVOA versus their recent opponents, this week is a much tighter margin. The Cowboys have a slight edge in overall DVOA but both teams rank in the top 5. Dallas ranks second in passing DVOA with a 42.3%. The Chiefs are not far behind with a 27% passing DVOA, eigth overall.

Kansas City gets the nod in run DVOA with an 11th overall ranking compared to Dallas’ 17th, which has slipped in recent weeks.

Both quarterbacks, Prescott and Mahomes, finish in the top 8 in passing DVOA individually with Mahomes’ 11.7% ranking eight among all passers and Prescott landing No. 1 with a 33.5% DVOA.

Offensively, the edge goes to Dallas winning two of the three categories.

Offensive Advantage: Cowboys

DVOA: Defense

While the offensive DVOA was close, the Cowboys defense leads by a significant margin. The Cowboys rank fourth in overall DVOA (13.7%) and third passing DVOA against (-14.4%). Their run DVOA is -12.6% which is good for 18th overall.

The Chiefs haven’t fared as well. They rank in the bottom tier of the league in all three categories. Their overall DVOA of 11.1% ranks 30th and their passing and run DVOA against rank 26th and 27th.

With the Cowboys taking 2/3 offensive categories and all three defensive categories, DVOA favors the Cowboys.

Defensive Advantage: Cowboys
Overall Advantage: Cowboys

Expected Points Added and Success Rate

EPA measures the impact that a play has on scoring. With EPA yardage, field position, down and distance all weigh in on what the expected net points would be for the situation. As an example, a first and goal at the one-yard line would represent a higher EP-Expected Points than a third and 10 on your own 20 yard line.

EPA is the difference between the Expected Points (EP) at the beginning of the play compared to the end of the play. It measures the plays impact on the score of the game.

Success rate is a measure of how often teams get 40% of the needed yards on 1st down, 60% on 2nd down and 100% on third down or fourth down.

EPA figures gathered by rbsdm.

EPA: Offense

Using EPA and Success Rate, it’s easy to see this could be a high scoring affair with both teams ranking highly in offensive categories.

Starting with the Chiefs, they have an advantage in Rushing EPA/play at -.079, (17th) EPA/play .125 (2nd) and boast a league-best success rate of 51.7%.

Their passing EPA/play ranks 5th but slightly behind the Cowboys.

While the Chiefs have a slight edge in three categories, the Cowboys are not far away. Their passing EPA/play of .239 leads the league and their success rate of 48.8% ranks fourth overall. Their EPA/play of .101 is sixth amongst all teams.

For the first time this season, the Cowboys will not have the advantage in offensive EPA.

Offensive Advantage: Chiefs

EPA: Defense

The advantage that the Chiefs have on offensive EPA is quickly neutralized by a large gap that favors the Cowboys defensively.

The Cowboys defense has allowed an overall EPA/play of -.070 against, which is 5th best in the league. Their passing EPA/play of -.075 also ranks 5th. They have the edge in rushing EPA/play, albeit by a small margin. Their defensive success rate of 42.5% is the 7th best in the league.

All of this means that the defense is preventing opponents from converting first downs and scoring the expected point total on a weekly basis.

On the opposite end, the Chiefs defense has struggled across the board in all four categories.

Starting with overall EPA/play, they rank 29th with a +.115. They are 27th in passing EPA/play allowed, which should bode well for the Cowboys’ passing attack. The Chiefs have also struggled to prevent teams from reaching the needed yardage as reflected by their success rate against of 48.5%, 28th overall.

Defensive Advantage: Cowboys
Overall Advantage: Cowboys


Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

Adjusted Net Yards Per Pass Attempt, or ANY/A, is a formula which incorporates passing yardage, touchdowns, sacks and interceptions into a per-throw average. ANY/A has a direct correlation to scoring points and as such ranks third in win predictability.

While this may surprise some, the Cowboys have a large lead in ANY/A differential. The Cowboys ANY/A for is 1.42 higher than the Chiefs and their ANY/A against is 1.7 lower.

Dak Prescott’s ANY/A is 8.22 and Pat Mahomes ANY/A is 6.77.

The overall differential favors the Cowboys by a good margin.

Advantage: Cowboys

Toxic Differential – Sharp Football Stats

(AP Photo/Michael Ainsworth)

Toxic differential (also referred to as Toxicity) is a statistic created by then Minnesota Vikings offensive coordinator Brian Billick. Billick realized that adding the number of explosive plays an offense generates and subtracting the number of explosive plays a defense allows, then adding the turnover margin, was a key barometer of team success.

Under Billick’s formula, explosive plays are defined as passing plays over 20 yards and rushing plays over 10 yards. These figures were gathered by Sharp Football Stats.

Toxic Differential: Offense

Interestingly, the Cowboys offense has generated 72 explosive plays, 10 more than the Chiefs in one less game. Kansas City has generated 62 explosive plays for the season.

With the Cowboys already having the edge in explosive plays, they also benefit from having eight less giveaways than the Chiefs.

Adding up the Cowboys 72 explosive plays created and subtracting their 12 giveaways for the season gives Dallas a score of 60. The Chiefs have generated 62 explosive plays and have 20 turnovers for the season, resulting in an offensive score of 42.

Offensive Advantage: Cowboys

Toxic Differential: Defense

Admittedly, the slight difference here in terms of explosive plays allowed is a result of the Cowboys having played one less game than the Chiefs. The Chiefs are allowing 6.7 big plays a game and the Cowboys are allowing 6.77.

While both teams have allowed their fair share of explosive plays, the Cowboys 17 takeaways help give them the edge on the defensive side. The Cowboys’ overall toxicity score of 44 is 11 points lower than the Chiefs.

With an overall toxicity of: +16 for Dallas to -13 for the Chiefs, the Cowboys hold a substantial lead in toxic differential.

Defensive Advantage: Cowboys
Overall Advantage: Cowboys



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