Happy Veterans' Day, everyone. While I consider myself a highly opinionated person, I tend to get off my soapbox for sports. Today, however, I'll say that I hope everyone takes a moment out of their day (even if it is to stop reading this) and either thank a veteran that they know or pray for one if they don't. My ability to write this and your ability to read it is not only a right that was granted to you at birth but also a freedom you have now protected by the brave men and women who serve our great country. So please do what you can to appreciate our veterans, because unfortunately our government comes up short in this department far too often.
Onto football! The landscape of the NFL is really starting to show itself in the rankings as the top four teams (Carolina, New England, Arizona, and Cincinnati) are all within 1.3 points of each other, and the Jets are a distant fifth at almost ten points behind the Bengals. Beyond that, the picture gets a little murky. Let's see where the Eagles fit into all of this. (As a reminder, a full archive of the rankings can be found here.)
Crunching The Numbers Rank Index, Week 9
|5||New York Jets||23.932|
|15||New York Giants||15.638|
Why the Eagles are 10th
Last Week: 12th (+2)
It may have taken overtime to beat a desperate and fading Cowboys team, but the Eagles notched their fourth win of the season and moved up two spots in the rankings. On offense, the team is starting to hit their stride as they are above the league average in every major category with the exception of rush play percentage and (you guessed it) passer rating. They are getting excellent play from their offensive line, with a score (5.6) that is almost two full points above the league average of 3.7. Otherwise, they are not really phenomenal, but they are trending up, which is a good sign for the imminent playoff push.
Defensively they are not quite as dominant as they were in the beginning of the season. They are allowing just over 20 points a game and their pass rush is only slightly above pedestrian. What is still good is their allowed passer rating (82.2) which is sixth in the league. However, they have not gotten to the promised land of forcing their opponents to throw the ball to win games as the pass-run ratio they face is on par with the league average. If they want to force more passing, they'll have to find a way to get leads earlier in the game. Obviously this isn't something the defense has control of, but it's something worth following as the season progresses. If the Eagles can find a way to build leads in the first half, they will be a dangerous team come January.
Week 10 Reconnaissance: Miami Dolphins
The Dolphins may have experienced a brief resurgence once Philbin was fired earlier this season, but it is (and should be) a distant memory by now. If you have any concerns about that Dolphins team which trashed the Texans and Titans, allow me alleviate your anxiety. Miami is - to put it bluntly - a bad football team. They are below average in literally every category measured by these rankings. And in some statistics, they are not just below average; they are abysmal. Take sacks allowed (2.9 to a league average of 2.2), passer rating allowed (97.1 to a league average of 91.1), or turnover margin per game (-0.5), for example. I can't really offer anything good to say about them other than, "they're kind of mediocre with their pass rush and passer rating." The Eagles should beat this team, although with the way this season has gone they'll most likely do everything they can to giftwrap a win for the Dolphins. But if Philadelphia plays like they did against Dallas (who, in spite of their record, are much better than Miami), they will cruise to an easy win Sunday.
The Panthers are the only team, after nine weeks, to average a passer rating allowed below 70 ... The Patriots' offense gets all the press, but the defense is actually outperforming them by keeping opposing passer ratings to 83.1 and forcing 3.4 sacks per game ... For the Giants' sake, JPP better come through quickly, as New York is only averaging one sack per game ... The upstart Vikings have the NFC's best scoring defense with 17.5 points per game allowed (Denver still leads the league with 17.4) ... Who's a better quarterback than Drew Brees? The quarterback playing the Saints' defense that week, as New Orleans is giving up ten more points in passer rating than what Brees is posting (112 to 102).