Week 5 proved to be a wild ride almost across the board as teams either participated in excitingly close games or soundly beat opponents that were supposed to be difficult. The Denver-Dallas barnburner was one for the ages and the curious 49ers really took it to the Texans with their 34-3 blowout. For Brandon's take on this week's rankings, check out his Power Rankings.
All of this, in terms of numbers, means one thing: a lot of reshuffling in the rankings. The only real mainstays were the top three and bottom three teams from last week, who also have a combined record of 14-1. So they probably won't be going anywhere anytime soon. But as for the rest of the NFL...
|25||New York Jets||-8.196||26|
|31||New York Giants||-35.144||31|
Around the league, our bad teams are still bad and our good teams are still good, but the middle is a frenzy. San Francisco did all they could to bounce back and moved up an unheard of twelve spots. Meanwhile, the Chargers sunk nine spots, Green Bay jumped up six, and the Patriots managed to move up three even though they lost. That's probably the definition of "any given Sunday."
Looking at the Eagles, they jumped up five spots to twenty-three, which is coincidentally where most experts have them ranked right now. A lot of fans didn't think that the Eagles' win against the admittedly terrible Giants was very convincing, but the numbers suggest otherwise as they added about seven points to their score in one week.
In reviewing why the Eagles are where they are, it's the usual suspect: the defense. The offense, even though it is only the eighth-best scoring unit in the league, is humming at twenty-seven points a game. The defense is an enigma because they are almost historically bad on the scoreboard, but the majority of their base defensive statistics are only mediocre. Their yards per rush allowed is an almost respectable 4.0 while their yards per attempt allowed is worse at 7.4. Still, these aren't historically bad numbers, so what gives? The third-down defense is what gives, as they are close to dead last in the league with a conversions allowed rate of almost 44%. Their pass rush could use some improvement as well as they are only getting 2.2 a game. If the defense can get their act together on third downs, I would not be surprised to see the unit have noteworthy improvement as the season goes on. But that's a big "if."
Scouting The Enemy
The Eagles face the Tampa Bay Buccaneers this week, who are coming off their bye. As you probably remember, Nick Foles' only career win was against Tampa and he looks like he might get another opportunity to beat them this week as Michael Vick remains on the injury report. But what can the team do to beat the Bucs?
The Turnover Battle. Surprisingly, the Eagles are on the plus-side of the turnover margin after five weeks. Tampa is even. Simply put, Tampa has a good defense (less than 4 YPC allowed and over 3 sacks per game) that could possibly hinder Philly's offense. And while the Bucs' offense has been atrocious (11 points per game) they are probably a safe bet to score more than their average against the Eagles. Don't be surprised if turnovers are the ultimate difference-maker in this one, and the Eagles are in good shape as their interception rate (1.23%) is third in the league behind Dallas and Denver. They are also averaging one lost fumble per game, but Tampa has not been effective there as they only have two recovered fumbles on the season.
Pass Rush. This is causing concern in the fan base as Eli Manning was only sacked once last week. However, pressure did cause two of his interceptions (even if one should have been a penalty). The Bucs are giving up as many sacks (2.2) as the Eagles are getting per game. And since they are going up against a rookie, just getting in his face might be enough to force some Eli-esque mistakes.
Pass Defense. This could be the game where the secondary gets a nice boost of confidence as Tampa's passing offense is atrocious (5.1 YPA; 3.65% interception rate). As I mentioned above, much of the Eagles' historically bad defense can be attributed to their play on third down. If they can force third-and-longs, they can use the Buccaneers' bad passing attack against them and possibly improve on their biggest weakness at the same time. Accomplishing this means stopping the run, but Tampa isn't exactly excelling in that department (3.6 yards per rush). In addition to turnovers, average distance to go on third downs could play another huge role in this game.
That will about do it for this week's edition of Crunching The Numbers. For more, check out the hub, and questions are always welcomed in the comments or on Twitter (@Harks119). Statistics were taken from www.teamrankings.com.