If you look at the box score from the Eagles-Saints game, you would never guess that Sam Bradford threw two picks in the end zone. And yet, he did. And yet, the Eagles won big. This team winning in spite of their quarterback play is something Kelly tried to move on from when he traded away Nick Foles, but it is still haunting him now. Granted, Bradford regrouped and played much better for the rest of the game, but he has yet to put on a complete performance and for the moment is still holding this team back from where they need to be to really compete in the NFL.
As for the rest of the league, Arizona increased its stranglehold on first place with a large win over the listless Lions. In spite of their statement win, the Bengals dropped a few places for giving up twenty-four points to the Seahawks. Speaking of Seattle, they have actually fallen below the Titans in the rankings and are following the trend of having a down year after losing the Super Bowl. In NFC East news, the Giants slip one place to tenth, Washington dropped one place to sixteenth, and the Cowboys tumbled four spots to twentieth.
The full rankings are below. To see an archive of previous rankings, check out this hub.
Crunching The Numbers Rank Index, Week 5
|5||New York Jets||31.739|
|10||New York Giants||18.659|
Why the Eagles are 13th
Last Week: 19th (+6)
The Eagles were the biggest mover of any team in the NFC East, jumping six spots to thirteenth while leapfrogging Dallas and Washington in the process. The offense is starting to gel and is performing above league average in rushing first downs per game (6.6) and sacks allowed per game (1.4). Of course, playing an awful New Orleans defense certainly helps, but at this point beggars can't be choosers. Sam Bradford is still the biggest liability on the team, as his middling 83.7 passer rating is over seven points below the league average.
The defense is clearly the strength of this team and is excelling against the pass and the run. The passer rating allowed (85.7) is over five points below league average and would probably be even better had Brees not tossed a garbage time touchdown as regulation expired. The sacks per game is approaching the league average, which is progress, and teams are running the ball against them much less than others due to the dominant front seven.
All in all, the team has the pieces in place to be very good. And as much as we've given Chip Kelly grief for his "execution" rhetoric, it's hard to look at the numbers and disagree. If the offense cleans up their mental errors, there is no reason Philadelphia can't win this division. And there's no better time than a potentially division lead-deciding game against the Giants.
Week 6 Reconnaissance: New York Giants
This game has the potential to be a true statement contest for the Eagles. They followed up their last win with a disappointing division loss to the Redskins and cannot afford to have that happen again. Unfortunately, the Giants are playing fairly well in spite of their tendency to get wins based on luck. Eli Manning has a passer rating of 100.2 so far this season and is getting sacked only 0.8 times per game. What may come into the Eagles' favor is that New York is largely one-dimensional and has not run the ball well. When combined with a very strong Philadelphia run defense, there is the opportunity to put the secondary in place to cause turnovers in the passing game and perhaps even correct the mistakes they made trying to defend Julio Jones by bracketing coverage on Odell Beckham Jr (although I doubt that happens).
While the pass defense is much better than the two the Eagles have faced in previous weeks (91.4 passer rating allowed) it's still slightly worse than the league average. The one thing they have been noticeably bad at is rushing the passer (1.4 sacks per game), so as long as the offensive line continues to improve Bradford should have a clean pocket to throw from; whether he actually makes good decisions is another story altogether. Teams are not running the ball much against the Giants with only 34% of the play calls being rushes, but this is to be expected when their calling card so far this season has been to blow leads in the fourth quarter.
On the turnover front, the Giants are +1.0 per game and the Eagles are +0.6, so this category might be a wash.
Tyrod Taylor has not passed much, but he has been effective with a passer rating of 103.6 ... Denver's defense is sacking the opposing quarterback an absurd 4.4 times per game ... Speaking of the Broncos, Manning's passer rating this season is lower than Bradford's at 77.3 ... At their current rate, the Jets are on pace to be +24 with their turnover differential by season's end ... The Falcons are averaging 7.6 rushing first downs per game against a league average of 5.8 ... The Lions are attempting only 17.4 rushes per game, which is by far one of the lowest in the NFL and better than only to Miami (16.2).