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Crunching The Numbers Week 8: Eagles Stand Firm

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The Eagles were on a bye and managed to retain their spot after last week's action.

Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

Well, Eagles football is back (along with some injured players). I hope you all enjoyed your stress-free bye week. And now the Birds have returned to liven up your Sunday with what is sure to be an excruciatingly terrible excellent game versus the Dallas Cowboys.

While the Eagles' score in the rankings (technically) didn't change - we'll get to that in a minute - there was certainly enough going on around the league to shake things up. Check out the rankings below, and if you want to see previous posts they can all be found in this archive.

Crunching The Numbers Rank Index, Week 8

Rank Team Score
1 Arizona 32.532
2 Carolina 32.490
3 New England 30.745
4 Cincinnati 29.606
5 Green Bay 26.332
6 New York Jets 23.600
7 Denver 22.373
8 Atlanta 21.324
9 Minnesota 19.901
10 Seattle 19.837
11 St. Louis 18.142
12 Philadelphia 17.623
13 Buffalo 16.325
14 Pittsburgh 16.290
15 Kansas City 14.209
16 Oakland 12.860
17 New York Giants 12.422
18 Tampa Bay 8.729
19 New Orleans 8.715
20 Dallas 8.292
21 Washington 6.524
22 Baltimore 6.448
23 Houston 5.339
24 Miami 2.364
25 Chicago 2.356
26 Indianapolis 2.209
27 San Diego 2.096
28 Tennessee 1.905
29 Cleveland -0.845
30 Jacksonville -2.072
31 San Francisco -4.314
32 Detroit -13.817

Why The Eagles Are 12th

Last Week: 17th* (+5)

I'm not going to get too in-depth about why the Eagles are where they are since their metrics have not changed since last week. An analysis on that can be found in the previous post in this series. I will address the asterisk, because if you click on that link you will find that the Eagles' score magically jumped ten points even though they didn't play a down in Week 8.

That is human error on my part. It appears that, while punching in statistics last week, I accidentally put down the Eagles for allowing 29.6 points per game instead of 19.6. With the way the formula is structured, that automatically docked them ten points. I will occasionally make an error when transcribing statistics, although it does not happen often. That isn't an excuse, however, and it is unfortunate that an error occurred in such a significant way and with the Eagles. I do check my work as best I can, but I simply do not have the time to go through every single number twice. I will make a commitment, at the very least, to double-checking all the Eagles' numbers in the future, since such a heavy emphasis is placed on them.

Okay, enough ethics chat. Let's look ahead to the Cowboys.

Week 9 Reconnaissance: Dallas Cowboys

So, how can the Eagles beat the Cowboys this week in Dallas? There is good news and bad news. The bad news is, while the Cowboys' defense has been nothing more than mediocre this season, they typically play the Eagles well. The good news is that the Cowboys have become very good at beating themselves without Tony Romo, as they have the worst turnover margin per game in the league at -1.1. With the ball-hawking nature of the Eagles' defense, the question is not if they will intercept Matt Cassel, it's how many times will they intercept Matt Cassel. At the very least, the defense will give the offense opportunities. The concern, as it has been this season, is whether they will capitalize.

There is reason to think that they can. The Cowboys are slightly below average in every statistic factored into this formula, which is opponent passer rating, sacks forced per game, and passing/rushing play percentage. Of course, "slightly below average" is not terrible, and the Eagles' offense has been nothing if not uninspiring this season. But Kelly has been decent in his tenure at making in-game and post-bye adjustments, and I'll give him the benefit of the doubt here to see if that trend can continue this season.

On offense, the Cowboys are slightly above average in important categories, including rushing first downs per game, rushing attempts per game, sacks allowed per game, and rushing play percentage. They are below average in passer rating which is ostensibly the most important statistic. This, of course, leads back to the turnover margin statistic, which is tied to Cassel's propensity to chuck balls to the opposing defense.

Overall, this is a winnable game for the Eagles. Their defense should hold up against Dallas' bleeding offense, even with Bryant in the lineup. I think the offense can do enough to win this game, but they really need to take a step forward to inspire hope in this team moving forward. In that regard, even a mediocre Cowboys' defense presents a tall task, which sums up how this season has gone so far.

Notes

The Broncons, in spite of their dominant performance against the Packers, are still out of the top five because of their relatively low point differential per game of +8 (New England leads this category at +13.8) ... The Panthers continue to roll with their magic formula of holding opposing passers to a 64.5 quarterback rating while forcing them to throw for 63% of their team's snaps ... The Lions are averaging as many rushing first downs per game as sacks they are allowing (2.8) ... The Cardinals, while known for their defense, are still averaging almost 33 points per game ... The Patriots still refuse to run the ball, even with big leads, but are actually second to Denver in sacks forced per game with 3.7 (they are also tied with the Rams here).