The Dallas Cowboys Home Field Disadvantage Analyzed

DeMarco Murray

DeMarco Murray

In 2014, the Dallas Cowboys have been road warriors with a perfect 7-0 record. Sporting the best road record in the NFL but in home games, Dallas is a humbling 3-4. They have yet to defeat a team with a winning record at home this season. It took overtime to defeat the 7-7 Texans.

It kind of defies any logical explanation really, but with an important home game with the Colts approaching Sunday, it wouldn’t surprise me if Jerry Jones doesn’t have a big blue horse shoe painted at midfield to make the Cowboys feel like it’s a road game. Or maybe call the Colts owner and see if he would like to play an additional home game this season?

The Cowboys last home game was a 33-10 beat down on Thanksgiving at the hands of the Eagles but in Philadelphia, it was a different story with Dallas winning 38-27. What a difference a change in venues made.

I drilled down in some stats to look for answers and discovered some interesting trends.

One thing that jumps out is that the Cowboys offense averages just 21.4 points a game at home but on the road they average 33 a game which is huge difference! But why there is such a difference isn’t so obvious. Stay with me.

Looking at their QB Tony Romo, his QB rating is very close to the same in away and home games. At home his rating is 111 and away it’s 112. Pretty much the same.

However Looking at RB DeMarco Murray who has played an enormous role in the Cowboys offense this season, does show a difference. In away games, Murray has carried the ball for 27 times a game but in home games he has just 23 carries per game. May not sound like a big difference but it is also interesting that Murray carries the ball for an average of 25 times a game but in the Cowboys four home losses, he only carried it 22, 19, 19, and 20 times. A solid 20% below his average carries.

As far as points allowed goes, the Cowboys defense appears very consistent no matter where they play. They have allowed 23.4 points a game away and 23.4 points a game at home.

However what is interesting is they have a total of 24 takeaways this season but most of those have come in away games. The Cowboys defense has only 9 takeaways in 7 home games but they have 15 takeaways in 7 away games. That represents a huge difference.

In fact in the Cowboys four home losses, the defense only managed a total of 3 turnovers. That means they produced 21 takeaways in the 10 games they have won. That’s about 2 per game when they win.

That may help explain the offense scoring 12 more points on the road. The defense taking the ball away would help set them up. Does the Dallas defense play more conservatively in home games? Do they rely more on the offense or come out playing flat at home but more fired up on the road?

Final Take:
For the Cowboys to pick up a very important home win against the Colts Sunday, I think they need to give the ball to Murray at least 25 times, his average. At this point, it appears Murray is going to try to play with his injured hand.

On defense, I’m convinced the Cowboys will have to come up with at least 2 or 3 turnovers to win the game. Remember the turnaround in the second meeting with the Eagles? The Dallas defense had 3 takeaways in that one compared to one in Dallas. The defense will need to play with more intensity and more aggressively than typical home games.

And the 12th man. The Cowboy fan base can help by bringing the noise when the Colts have the ball and creating a true home field advantage.