Crunching The Numbers: Week 10

Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

It's the most wonderful time of the year... the annual NFL Playoff Run! Starting this week, 'Crunching The Numbers' will compare its 'playoff picture' to the official one provided by the NFL.

As we forge ahead to the next slate of NFL games, let's take one last look at last week's excitement. In Week 9, the Panthers were ranked as the best team in the NFC, and I contemplated another team that might want to have a word with me about that, including the 49ers. However, Carolina did not disappoint as they beat San Francisco on the road. They slipped to fourth in spite of that, but are still the third-best team in the conference according to my system. Read Brandon's Power Rankings if you haven't by now, and then check out how the rest of the league did below:

The Rankings

Rank Team Score Last Week
1 Kansas City 19.729 1
2 Seattle 15.589 6
3 New Orleans 15.577 7
4 Carolina 15.248 2
5 Denver 15.103 3
6 San Francisco 11.181 5
7 New England 10.633 8
8 Cincinnati 5.762 10
9 Indianapolis 5.493 4
10 Green Bay 3.696 9
11 Detroit 2.193 13
12 Tennessee 1.702 14
13 Dallas 1.147 11
14 San Diego 0.368 12
15 Philadelphia 0.005 17
16 St. Louis -0.077 21
17 Chicago -0.482 15
18 Baltimore -0.627 16
19 Arizona -1.605 18
20 Cleveland -2.636 19
21 Miami -4.095 20
22 Tampa Bay -7.842 23
23 Buffalo -9.449 22
24 Oakland -10.110 25
25 Washington -10.155 27
26 Pittsburgh -11.165 28
27 New York Jets -11.338 26
28 Minnesota -11.917 29
29 Atlanta -13.977 24
30 Houston -14.953 30
31 New York Giants -16.701 31
32 Jacksonville -30.205 32

The Chiefs continue to hold on to the top spot even though they had a bye week. There was some pretty significant movement in the top ten regardless, mostly caused by the strong outings of Seattle and New Orleans and the rather disappointing performances of Green Bay and Indianapolis (the Packers get somewhat of a pass for starting a practice squad rookie). Other than that, the only big mover was St. Louis after their walloping of the Colts.

The Eagles move to their second-highest rank of the season at fifteenth. This seems to be the general consensus around the web. However, this is the first time that they are "in the black" by having a slightly positive value. The defense continues to improve and the offense is showing some good consistency. They could still improve with pass protection and with their pass rush, but the secondary is starting to come together. Hopefully they can ride this momentum into January. Speaking of which...

Playoff Picture

So, here's how the playoff picture works with my system. The highest-ranked team from each division is slated as the division leader and is seeded by their rank relative to each other. Then the remaining highest-ranked teams from each conference are designated as wildcards. In the chart below, the numbers in parenthesis represent each seeded team's rank in my system. Teams in bold are in the same seed as they are in the "real-life" playoff picture on NFL.com.

PLAYOFF PICTURE
Seed AFC NFC
1 Kansas City (1) Seattle (2)
2 New England (7) New Orleans (3)
3 Cincinnati (8) Green Bay (10)
4 Indianapolis (9) Dallas (13)
5 Denver (5) Carolina (4)
6 Tennessee (12) San Francisco (6)

Truth be told, I was surprised with how accurate it is. The way to interpret the chart is that the team in bold can be predicted to "hold on" to their spot while the other teams should be expected to "usurp" the current holder. Now, this will most likely change, especially with Aaron Rodgers' injury. It'll be interesting to see if the Titans can overtake the Jets by the end of the season, and I'm not sure how many would be surprised if the Bengals and Colts flip-flopped. The Eagles could also be in the mix in the wide-open NFC East, but they have to take it one step at a time, starting with their next opponent.

Scouting the Enemy

The Redskins will be a different team than the one the Eagles faced on Monday Night Football to open the season. They certainly won't be caught off-guard by the Eagles' up-tempo offense and they will be facing Nick Foles instead of Michael Vick. It'll be interesting to see how the defense will play against a healthier Robert Griffin III, considering that the unit has also improved as of late. In general, here is where the Eagles can find success on Sunday:

The Passing Game. The caveat with here is a calculated passing game. Washington has done a good job of getting interceptions (expect Nick to throw his first this week), but they are also giving up almost eight yards per attempt. If the Eagles employ a controlled passing attack, they should be able to carve up the belly of Washington's secondary.

The Running Game. I hate to be bland, but I take what the other team gives me. While the Redskins 4.3 yards-per-carry allowed is not terrible, it will not be the stiffest test the top-ranked rushing team in the league has faced. Kelly can explore creative ways to turn that small weakness into a large one with some careful play-calling.

Offensive Scoring. Washington is giving up over thirty points a game (31.9, to be exact). This is simple - the Eagles have absolutely no excuse for not putting up points in this one. Unless the 'Skins 'D' does an incredible amount of homework, I just don't see them having enough to stop Chip Kelly's offense.

There are certainly other factors involved as well. Notice I didn't mention anything about the defense, because Washington's offense has been playing very well. They've also had an extra few days of rest to prepare for the upcoming game. Divisional matchups can be wild, and I don't think that this one will disappoint.

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