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Crunching The Numbers: Week 5

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A top NFC East team fell in the rankings this week

NFL: Philadelphia Eagles at Detroit Lions Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports

Well that sucked. Dougie P clearly did not inherit any of Andy Reid’s post-bye magic as the Eagles sleepwalked their way to a 21-10 deficit in the first half of their loss to the Lions, which ultimately proved too big a hole to prevent a late turnover-fueled rally by Detroit. As I said in last week’s edition (which can be found in the archive), if the Eagles lost they would have nobody to blame but themselves, and that’s exactly what happened. The team was plagued by turnovers, dropped passes, and boneheaded mistakes all afternoon, with two of Detroit’s touchdown drives extended by awful penalties. And as much as I admire Carson’s moxie for attempting the game-winning deep ball, there was absolutely no excuse for making such a high-risk, low-percentage throw. It was one of the rare moments where we were reminded that he’s just a rookie who will make mistakes like these, and our hope now is that he’ll learn from them. There’s no reason to believe he won’t, as his stellar play continues to show us he’s the real deal. But enough lamenting over the stupid Lions. Let’s look at the rankings.

Crunching The Numbers Rank Index: Week 5

Why the Eagles are First

Honestly, I wasn’t expecting this. I was sure the Eagles would have fallen behind Minnesota (and possibly even Dallas) after their effort on Sunday. The Cowboys, for what it’s worth, actually fell two spots after some facets of their hot start proved unsustainable, like 11(!) rushing first downs per game. But the cold hard truth is that the Eagles are simply not far enough removed from their monstrous September to be offset by a single loss, especially a one-point loss. The good news is my “trend” feature is working; had I gone purely on their current statistics they would have only dropped by about six or seven points, and instead they almost dropped nine. That’s the quantification of “falling back to earth.”

The takeaway here should allow us to be optimistic about the Eagles: good teams win big and often while losing close and rarely. The one-point loss barely made a dent in their incredible score differential, and even though it was to a bad team like the Lions, sometimes those losses simply happen (see: Philadelphia at New England, 2015). I think we should continue to see a regression from the Eagles in the future when looking at their next slate of games, but I also think that they’re good enough to weather the storm and avoid an outright collapse.

Week 6 Reconnaissance: Washington Redskins

It took until mid-October, but the Eagles are finally playing a divisional game. The ‘Skins are coming off their third straight victory but find themselves eighteenth in the rankings. There are a number of factors for this. Offensively, in spite of a decent yards per attempt (7.2) and good pass protection (3.98% sack rate), they are struggling to establish a ground game (5.2 rushing first downs/game), which indicates their opponents are either still in the game or leading late in the second half. In addition, they’re also fumbling 1.4 times per game. On defense, they try to make up for that with an impressive 1.8 takeaways per game, but they also struggle to get off the field with a third down conversion allowed rate of 48%. For comparison’s sake, the Lions allow 47% of third down conversions and the Eagles converted 45% (5/11) on Sunday.

The overall picture here is that Washington is a team of extremes - what they do well, they do very well, and what they do poorly, they do very poorly. Because of this, they are often involved in close games and are in no way a pushover. I think Doug will crack the whip a little bit this week since the team came out so flat in Detroit but he’ll also have to do better game-planning to beat Jay Gruden, who has given the Eagles trouble in the past. I do think the Eagles will become one of those teams that rarely loses back-to-back games, and a division game is as good a time as any to start that trend. They can grind out a win this weekend, but it won’t be easy, and they’re going to have to regroup if they want to start divisional play on the right foot.

Notes

Both the Jets and Oakland are allowing an absurd 8.7 yards per pass attempt... Tampa Bay is allowing over 28 points a game but has the league’s best third down defense (31% conversion rate)... Even though the Patriots have only had Tom Brady back for one game, they are third in yards per pass attempt at 8... The Broncos are allowing a sack on 8.57% of their passes, which is the third worst rate in the league.