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Eagles Hold Fast: Crunching The Numbers Week 8

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Once again there is a new number one team in this week's edition of Crunching The Numbers. But how did the Eagles do after their heart-wrenching loss to the Arizona Cardinals?

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We've reached the midpoint of the NFL season and yet not much more is clear about how things will play out. Sure, there are the familiar storylines - Denver is imposing their will on other teams, the Patriots are hitting their stride just in time for November, Tony Romo plays tough but still chokes. Even so, the entire playoff picture seems very much up for grabs, making these next two months of football as important as ever. Before we see which teams pass the eye test down the stretch, can the numbers give us any insight? Read on to find out!

Crunching The Numbers Rank Index, Week 8

1. Denver (24.333): The Broncos, who often held this spot in last season's rankings, have seemingly overcome their slight early-season funk. Peyton Manning is playing like a quarterback possessed (118.6 passer rating), and now it is clear why he lost the Super Bowl: he couldn't retire without breaking yet another passing record, of course! He now sets his eyes on that elusive second ring that his little brother inexplicably has already. Last Week: 2, 22.674

2. Baltimore (21.220): The Ravens get knocked down a spot after their loss to the Bengals, who desperately needed that game. Their defense was impressive early on but is starting to lose its luster. However, as long as that offensive line stays strong (8.1 rushing first downs per game, 1.1 sacks allowed per game) the Ravens should be the favorite to win the suddenly relevant AFC North. Last Week: 1, 23.886

3. New England (16.003): There is a significant drop-off in score here, but the Patriots stormed up to third place after their demolishing of the Bears. Tom Brady, after a rough start to his season, has been unstoppable and brought his season passer rating up to a 106.2. That, when combined with an overachieving defense (2.6 sacks per game, 6.4 yards per attempt allowed), will make Belichick's unit very hard to beat. Last Week: 8, 12.245

4. Indianapolis (14.597): A week after blanking the Bengals, the Colts somehow let the Steelers drop fifty points on them. There is a lot to like about the Colts, but their stats are not eye-popping, and such wild swings in performance says they haven't turned the corner just yet. Last Week: 3, 19.915

5. Philadelphia (14.531): Surprise! The Eagles actually move up a spot after their loss. In reality, their score took a hit of roughly a point, but since the entire league took a step back, they take a step forward. What this tells me is that this team is actually very good, but the poor quarterback play is overshadowing everything else. They are competitive in spite of Nick Foles, and if they could even get average play out of him (which is starting to seem unlikely) this would be a club that every fan would dread to see their team play. Last Week: 6, 15.571

6. San Diego (14.451): The Bolts have now suffered back-to-back division losses, with one of them coming at home. Not exactly ideal for playoff positioning. Regardless, this is a team that is still playing very well, but they may have to settle for a wild card spot again. Last Week: 4, 18.698

7. Dallas (12.683): My formula has been saying for a while now that the Cowboys were not as good as their record, and who knew the Washington Redskins would be the team to show that. Dallas is carried entirely by Murray (7.8 rushing first downs per game) and Romo (105 quarterback rating) - the rest of their numbers are slightly above average at best. If either of them go down, this team is done. Last Week: 7, 15.506

8. Kansas City (12.147): The Chiefs move up here after their impressive win over the albeit hapless Rams. Their defense is showing signs of its former dominance (18.1 points per game) and can thank its success to a monstrous pass rush that is averaging 3.4 sacks per game. Last Week: 15, 8.102

9. Green Bay (11.743): The Packers-Saints games always seem to be interesting, and this was no exception. Unfortunately for them , the pass defense took a hit last week on the stat sheet, meaning that the team is currently being carried by Aaron Rodgers (110.3 passer rating). He's getting sacked 2.6 times per game, which doesn't bode well for the Packers. Last Week: 5, 16.846

10. Cincinnati (11.176): The Bengals got a gutsy win over the Ravens to sweep the series, which will be important for tiebreakers. The defense is perplexing by allowing over nine rushing first downs per game but holding opposing quarterbacks to a rating of 73 (best in the league). We'll see how they hold up down the stretch. Last Week: 10, 10.674

11. Cleveland (10.749): You can't really say the Browns got a "quality win" versus the Raiders, but they are winning. They don't really do one thing exceptionally well statistically, but collectively they are good enough to make other teams take them seriously, which finally is something they can hang their hat on. Last Week: 13, 10.618

12. New Orleans (10.605): Just having Drew Brees as their quarterback might be enough for the Saints to win an absolutely terrible NFC South division. He isn't playing at his normal caliber, but the offensive line is doing well (8.4 rushing first downs per game, 1.1 sacks per game allowed). Everything else about them is below average. Last Week: 17, 6.919

13. Arizona (10.423): The Cardinals find themselves with the opposite problem of the Eagles - their score improved, but not enough for them to even save their spot from last week. This is a team that is leaning on its strong run defense and ability to create turnovers (+1.3 turnover margin/game). All the defense really needs is a pass rush (1 sack/game) and they'd be nearly impossible to overcome. Last Week: 11, 9.618

14. Miami (10.364): The Dolphins are quietly putting together a good season so far, even if they are beating bottom feeders. Their defense, which is averaging three sacks per game and 5.7 yards per attempt allowed, is a quarterback's nightmare. Last Week: 14, 8.234

15. Detroit (9.645): The Lions are 6-2 and leading their division, but the numbers say their true colors will show eventually. The defense is for real (15.8 points/game) but the offensive line is not (3 sacks/game allowed). Something will have to give eventually. Last Week: 9, 10.694

16. Seattle (9.499): The reigning champions now find themselves middling in mediocrity as they struggled to beat a regressing Panthers team. The Seahawks' defense can't claim much of anything anymore, putting the responsibility to win squarely on the shoulders of Russell Wilson (98.4 passer rating) and Marshawn Lynch (7.9 rushing first downs per game). The team is simply not built for that in the long term. Last Week: 12, 9.090

17. Houston (8.550): After beating up a bad Tennessee team the Texans managed to improve their score, but dropped a spot. They are still pretty mediocre across the board (especially on defense), so the level of Nick Foles' play against them should be a good indicator of his true ceiling. Last Week: 16, 7.449

18. Buffalo (7.621): Like the Dolphins, the Bills are also putting together a good season without making too much noise. Considering the above-average play of their defense, they would be a legitimate threat in their division if their offensive line wasn't so bad (2.6 rushing first downs per game, 2.9 sacks allowed per game). Last Week: 21, 3.382

19. Pittsburgh (7.304): The Steelers are suddenly back in the thick of things after their ridiculous win over the Colts. Unfortunately for them, the numbers don't really say they are exceptional (Ben Roethlisberger's play excluded). They may beat out Cleveland in their division, but that will probably be it. Last Week: 20, 3.987

20. San Francisco (5.709): The 49ers were on a bye this week and lost two spots because of how other teams played. With the way the NFC West is shaping up, their second game versus Arizona has to be the most important on their schedule. Last Week: 18, 5.709

21. New York Giants (4.433): The other Week 8 bye team also dropped two places. They seem like a team that belongs down here, but their game against Indianapolis this week will tell us more. Last Week: 19, 4.433

22. Atlanta (0.737): I'll give the Falcons credit for handling the jet lag better and giving the Lions a run for their money, but that does not change the fact that this team is just plain bad. Last Week: 23, -0.162

23. Washington (-0.039): The Redskins did Philly a huge favor on Monday night. Colt McCoy doesn't have a realistic chance to win the starting job, but it will be interesting to see how the offense changes when Robert Griffin III returns. Last Week: 25, -1.327

24. Carolina (-0.377): Trying to give the Seahawks a third consecutive loss is no easy task, and the fact that Carolina almost did it probably says more about Seattle than it does about the Panthers. Last Week: 24, -0.639

25. Chicago (-0.991): You can't help but think that this Bears team has potential but fails to deliver every week. Granted, the Patriots played an awesome game, but at this point it's hard to say that Marc Trestman has been a good replacement for Lovie Smith, who guided Chicago to a 10-6 record the year he was fired. Last Week: 22, 3.343

26. Minnesota (-1.759): The Vikings may have gotten a road win by dispatching the lowly Buccaneers, but they still have no offensive line (3.5 sacks per game) and no real production from their quarterbacks (65.7 passer rating). Last Week: 27, -4.168

27. Tennessee (-3.819): This team is here because they aren't getting more than average play from their offense and subpar play from their defense. They have the potential to turn things around quickly, but it won't happen this year. Last Week: 26, -2.902

28. St. Louis (-8.487): The Rams' defense is averaging 0.9 sacks/game and is allowing a passer rating of 106. The fact that Austin Davis is able to post a passer rating of 90 (about 10 points better than Foles) while getting sacked 3.3 times a game is actually pretty remarkable. Last Week: 28, -7.793

29. Oakland (-9.063): Derek Carr is the lone bright spot on the Raiders, and his passer rating is 78.1. I think I'll leave it at that. Last Week: 30, -7.607

30. New York Jets (-10.354): Once again the Jets are plagued by poor drafting as Geno Smith has not shown any ability and has been benched for Michael Vick. It's hard to see a scenario now where Rex isn't fired. Last Week: 29, -7.327

31. Jacksonville (-10.973): The Jaguars' paltry 5.9 yards per pass attempt is almost excusable when you see that they allow 4.1 sacks/game. Of course, excuses won't get you wins in the NFL. Last Week: 31, -10.807

32. Tampa Bay (-11.274): It looks like the Bucs thought that season only lasted two games, and that those contests were against Pittsburgh and New Orleans. Everything about the stat sheet is terrible, and that puts them in the basement. Last Week: 32, -12.256

So what are your thoughts? Which teams are too high? Too low? What about the Eagles moving up a spot? Have your say in the comments below!