It was another wild week of football, and even wilder if you happen to be a Penn State fan (or student, like yours truly). The statistics this time around have been kinder to the Eagles than most other writers around the Internet. And as always, check out Brandon's rankings if you haven't already.
But enough chitchat. Let's get to the breakdown.
|26||New York Jets||-9.608||25|
|31||New York Giants||-31.601||31|
As you can see, the Eagles have jumped nine (nine!) places this week to land right around the middle at fourteen. Nick Foles has the offense working more efficiently and mistake-free than Michael Vick did, regardless of Vick's threat as a runner. At this point I have a hard time seeing how Vick's explosive athleticism outweighs the sheer collective improvement that Foles' has brought out of the offense.
Around the league, Denver came crashing back to Earth with almost an eight-point drop, but they still have a four-point advantage over the Chiefs. St. Louis also proved to be a big mover in the positive direction after their big win over the Texans, jumping eight spots to twenty. San Francisco has fought its way back into the top ten after a sour start to the season, and Indianapolis managed to cling onto its spot in the top three in spite of their loss on Monday night.
Now let's look a little deeper into the offense, as the defense didn't really do much differently last game than they did earlier in the season. While the ground game has suffered without Vick in the lineup, it has been far from ineffective since McCoy rushed for over a hundred yards last Sunday. The passing game has taken a huge boost primarily because Foles has been smart with the football. Overall, the offense is now the second-highest rated unit in the league according to my system, trailing only to Denver. But what does their next opponent bring to the table?
Scouting the Enemy
The Dallas Cowboys. Ugh. This game could get ugly because the Cowboys' offense is really good. The defense will struggle mightily in this one as they probably will not be able to pressure Tony Romo or stop Dez Bryant. If the Eagles want to hang in there, they'll have to rack up the score themselves. The good news is that Philadelphia is primed to do just that as long as they stick to their guns:
The Running Game. This is the bread and butter of the Eagles' offense, and the Cowboys' defensive line is not in any shape to slow it down. They should be able to impose their will on Dallas and dominate the line of scrimmage offensively, which should ultimately lead to points. The only way this goes south is if Monte Kiffin is able to out-coach Chip Kelly. He wasn't able to do it in college, and I don't think he'll be able to do it in the NFL either.
Strategic Passing. I say this because the Cowboys do have some talent in their secondary and DeSean Jackson has had issues with one-on-one matchups against some of the more physical corners in the league. However, Dallas is modest when it comes to interceptions (opponent interception rate is 2.4%, a little higher than the Eagles) and they are giving up 7.4 yards per attempt, which is simply mediocre (the Eagles give up 7.2 YPA). Luckily, the ground game mentioned above should give a very solid foundation for play-action passes. I think the Eagles will have the most success with a conservative passing game to complement the run, but they will get a bomb in there somewhere once the safeties start to play the run too hard.
Other than that, the Cowboys look like a good litmus test for the Eagles. Neither team has beaten teams with great combined records; the Eagles' wins are against a collective 1-15 while the Cowboys are slightly better at 4-13. They have both lost to the same three teams, who have a combined record of 15-3. In other words, both these teams have fared the same against roughly even competition. Here's to hoping for a good home win against a team on a similar level to the Eagles. Is that so much to ask for?
What do you think of the Eagles ranking? Are they the 14th best team in the league right now? How do you think the game will play out on Sunday? And as always, you can find me on Twitter (@Harks119).