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Crunching The Numbers Week 10: Don't Give Up on the Eagles

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After a crushing loss to the up-and-down Dolphins, what did the numbers have to say about the Eagles' performance?

Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

That was bad. Really bad. It was so bad that I could not bring myself to look at anything football related all day Monday. There the division was - ripe for the taking - and the Eagles not only blew it, but they blew a thirteen point lead they had amassed in the first quarter. This is what I get for saying that the team could be "dangerous" if they got off to a hot start. Of course, I didn't exactly expect Ndamukong Suh to happen either.

But enough pointless venting. After that gut-wrenching loss, did the numbers slam the Eagles or pity them? Check out the rankings below to find out. (You can find an archive of previous rankings here and a breakdown of my scoring system here.)

Crunching The Numbers Rank Index, Week 10

RANKING
Rank Team Score
1 Carolina 34.349
2 Arizona 31.218
3 New England 29.900
4 Cincinnati 28.773
5 Minnesota 23.182
6 New York Jets 21.441
7 Buffalo 21.090
8 Philadelphia 19.733
9 Pittsburgh 18.806
10 Kansas City 18.729
11 Atlanta 18.508
12 Green Bay 18.052
13 Seattle 18.033
14 New York Giants 13.849
15 Denver 13.642
16 St. Louis 13.360
17 Chicago 10.291
18 Oakland 9.485
19 Washington 9.400
20 Tampa Bay 7.778
21 Dallas 7.225
22 Baltimore 7.117
23 Houston 6.796
24 Indianapolis 5.178
25 New Orleans 3.228
26 Tennessee 3.101
27 San Diego 2.088
28 Miami 1.612
29 San Francisco -0.677
30 Jacksonville -1.714
31 Cleveland -6.253
32 Detroit -9.795

Why the Eagles are 8th

Last Week: 10th (+2)

Well, this doesn't seem right. Not only did the Eagles move up in the rankings, but their score actually improved slightly, which discounts the explanation that other teams performed more poorly than they did. What gives? Simply put, Philadelphia is actually doing a lot of things right, even if it doesn't seem that way. Their quarterback rating is improving (it's still bad though), they are third in the league with 7.7 rushing first downs per game and are still below the league average in sacks allowed at 2 per game. Elsewhere on offense they are only slightly above average, but it still counts.

On defense, their passer rating allowed is still top ten (83.5) and teams are starting to chuck the ball on them more, which of course is desirable when your pass defense is playing well. They're gaining ground on the league with sacks forced per game (2.6 versus an average of 2.3) and are enjoying a +0.4 turnover margin, although that took a hit Sunday with the loss.

Essentially, what this means is that while the Eagles are playing moderately well with the fundamentals, they are suffering poor luck. As far as recent history goes, they failed to recover both of Brandon Graham's strip sacks. Last week they threw yet another end zone interception. I'm not necessarily making excuses - at some point you have to finish the play - but in my experience with these rankings the team that consistently plays well sees a change in fortune for the better as the playoff push starts rolling. It's the old adage that luck favors the prepared, or bold, or whatever, if you will. I'm not going to sit here and tell you that the Eagles are going to pull it together and make the playoffs, but I will tell you that there is good reason not to give up on them yet.

Week 11 Reconnaissance: Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Like last week, this should be a winnable game for the Eagles, but they could very well continue to shoot themselves in the foot again. Jameis Winston is having a modest rookie season at best (80.1 quarterback rating) and Tampa Bay's secondary is allowing a passer rating of 101.8, so Sanchez should at least be serviceable when he starts this week. The Bucs do a decent job of protecting the quarterback (1.8 sacks per game allowed) but are average with their own pass rush (2.2 sacks forced per game; league average is 2.3). Overall, they are giving up over 26 points per game but have managed to say dead even on the turnover margin.

Philadelphia beats out Tampa in almost every major statistical category - including quarterback rating, of all things - so there really is no excuse if they drop this one. At this point, they can't afford to anyway.

Notes

Sacks per game continues to be all over the place, with the league leaders being Denver, New England, St. Louis, and Tennessee ... No defenses see more passes than New England, and they respond by allowing a mediocre 84.8 quarterback rating ... Carolina is the only team in the league to run the ball more than they throw it ... Denver is currently the only team with a winning record and a negative turnover margin (-0.2 per game).