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Eagles vs. Redskins Game Simulation Favors Philadelphia

The Philadelphia Eagles are favored… Let’s win this one.

Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

Joaquin, once forecasted to attack Washington D.C. via the Chesapeake, has decided to avoid the U.S. altogether.  "Not worth the time," he said. "Why bother when Philadelphia will crush them anyway."

Damn straight, Joaquin.  Damn straight.

There is a storm forming in Philadelphia and it’s tracking south.  The Eagles, a team with questions on offense, look to find answers against a football team with questions of their own.  The Eagles have improved slightly from week two to three, and look to make a leap this week against Washington.

In other words, the storm tracking south may strengthen.  (I hope this is not hyperbole.)

Last Week Recap

For the second week in a row, the model proved to be accurate.  As underdogs against the New York Jets, the Eagles were given an initial win probability of 26%.  The model also highlighted the conditions under which victory was more probable: a +2 or +3 turnover margin.  With an actual turnover margin of +3, that’s what happened.  According to last week’s simulation a +3 turnover margin gave the Eagles a 74% chance of winning by an average score of 25 – 19.

Week 1 – 61% Win Probability    L 24-26

Week 2 – 42% Win Probability    L 10-20

Week 3 – 26% Win Probability    W 24-17

This Week’s Simulation

Interact with the viz to see how changes in simulation ruins, turnovers, and point spread impact win probabilities.

Philadelphia Offense versus Washington Defense

After last week’s game, the Eagles have slightly improved the offense’s rate of efficiency from 65% to 68%.  More [successful] rushes can do that.  Ryan Mathews rushed 24 times for 104 yards with Darren Sproles contributing another 11 carries.  These 35 rushes were two more than the Eagles had in their first two games combined.  If this continues and Sam Bradford can improve even slightly, look for the offensive efficiency to increase even more.  That may not be saying much.   As a friend of mine often says, "Once you hit rock bottom, there is only one place to go…"

Washington’s defense is solid, having been on the field for a total of just 164 plays (in contrast, the Eagles defense has been on the field for 215 plays).  However, they are not a unit that forces many turnovers (just one in three games).  But, they are relatively efficient, also evident by their 11th ranked DVOA.  The Eagles offense, on the other hand, is ranked 27th.

Advantage: Washington.

Washington Offense versus Philadelphia Defense

With Kirk Cousins as QB and a strong Week 2 performance from running back Matt Jones, Washington’s offense has been middling (73% efficiency rate, 15th in DVOA) and susceptible.  They have turned the ball over six times and, more importantly, committed 17 turnovers.  Desean Jackson’s absence is a contributing factor (is Robert Griffin III?), but, right now, the offense isn’t pretty.

The Philadelphia Eagles defense has performed really well (rank 5th in defensive DVOA), but has been on the field more than desired.  With strong play from younger players (Jordan Hicks, Eric Rowe), and newcomers (Walter Thurmond III), they have shown a penchant for playing opportunistic football and forcing turnovers.

Advantage: Philadelphia.

Point Spread and Bayes Odds

The Eagles enter the game as three point favorites.  Since 1994, three point favorites have a 60% chance of victory.

What It All Means

Based on offense versus defense efficiency stats, the Eagles win just about 49% of the simulated games.  When these results are combined with historical point spread win percentages, the probability that the Eagles win on Sunday increases to 58%.

There are conditions under which the Eagles can improve their chances, or harm them.  Those conditions primarily involve turnovers.  If Washington has a +1 TO differential, then the Eagles’ odds of victory drop to 38%.  If the Eagles have a +1 TO differential (which seems more likely), their Bayes odds improve to 75%.

Look for Chip Kelly and Bill Davis to take advantage and win the first game of the season in which they are favored.