This is a game with two offenses I find difficult to figure out.
San Francisco has stuck with incumbent QB Jimmy Garoppolo, and he has led the 14th best pass offense this season. The Niners have benefitted from explosive plays, as the pass offense ranks 1st by my adjusted yards per pass attempt. Do it all player Deebo Samuel has averaged an insane 2.98 yards per route.
The problem with explosive plays is volatility. Before this season, I looked at yards per pass attempt on successful plays, and asked about the correlation of this quantity from early to late season. The R-squared value was 0.053, which suggests that explosiveness is not predictive. This is bad for the Niners.
San Francisco faces a Dallas pass defense all over the place in the metrics I look at:
- 3rd in my adjusted success rate
- 15th in my adjusted yards per play
- 8th in PFF coverage grades
The Dallas pass defense is probably a little better than NFL average.
This season, I’ve had the idea in my head that Dallas has a great to elite offense. QB Dak Prescott is fully healthy, and he has elite targets in WRs Amari Cooper and CeeDee Lamb.
However, I’m not sure the numbers back this up.
The Dallas pass offense ranks 5th in my rankings, which is great. However, from a clean pocket, Prescott has a PFF grade of 89 this season. (I look at grades from a clean pocket because they are more predictive than grades under pressure.) While this is a solid grade, it is only 11th best among NFL starters and even behind Geno Smith.
CeeDee Lamb has averaged 2.06 yards per route, a excellent rate and an improvement over the 1.81 in his rookie year last season. Amari Cooper has averaged 1.65 yards per route this season. This is low for an elite receiver and lower than the 1.81 he averaged last season when more passes were coming from Andy Dalton than Prescott.
If Prescott isn’t top 10 in delivering the ball and Cooper has fallen off, Dallas might not be as efficient as conventional wisdom suggests.
Dallas faces a San Francisco defense that ranks 6th, a remarkable result given the injury to top CB Jason Verrett in the first game.
My numbers like Dallas by 2.8, and I don’t see any value in this game with the markets at -3. It shouldn’t surprise you to see San Francisco advance, as my numbers give them a 41% win probability.
Football betting with a PhD edge
This article was sent to The Power Rank’s email newsletter at noon Eastern on Thursday, January 13. Dallas is -3 at most books as of Sunday morning, January 16.
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