Blech. Maybe the Eagles will make the league get rid of the pointless Week 4 bye. They won’t, of course - I actually think everyone should get a bye on Week 9 and then alternate who gets a home game afterwards every year, but the NFL would never take the revenue loss - but one can dream. That performance against the Redskins easily ranks as one of the top five most pathetic that I’ve seen in my life as an Eagles fan, and I painfully watched the entire 2012 season. Here’s to hoping that Doug Pederson does something - anything - to give Vatai some help against that terrifying Vikings’ front next week. It probably won’t help either way, and at this point a victory will simply be Carson Wentz not being carted off the field in a body bag.
But enough doom-and-gloom. Let’s check out this week’s rankings. (An archive of past rankings can be found here.)
Crunching The Numbers Rank Index, Week 6
Before moving onto the Eagles, I’ll address the elephant (buffalo?) in the room. As you may have noticed, the Bills are ranked second here, just above the Eagles and three points behind the Vikings. They are there because they’ve won four straight in impressive fashion. It may have been against lesser competition, but that didn’t stop us from getting excited about the Eagles’ hot start. Additionally, Buffalo is also ranked third in DVOA, behind the Seahawks and Vikings. So this isn’t just a fluke on my part, but still feel free to give me heat for it in the comments.
Why the Eagles are Third
I haven’t looked into where the Eagles rank if I just include their last two games, but they’d be at or near the bottom of the league. They’re third purely based off of their high ceiling; we’ve all seen what they can do when firing on all cylinders, which has still been the majority of their games. That being said, they’ve been atrociously bad their past two games, and that’s reflected in the fact that they’ve tumbled fourteen points since Week 4, by far the biggest drop in the league in that span. If you’ve been paying attention, you’ll notice that’s also the Vikings’ score. In the span of two games, the Eagles have essentially managed to regress by the league’s best team’s worth of efficiency. That’s awful, but honestly not too unreasonable when you consider their lack of depth and a rookie head coach on the sidelines. And things unfortunately will not get better with a right tackle that can’t even block long enough for you to properly say his full name.
Week 7 Reconnaissance: Minnesota Vikings
Oh boy! The Eagles get to take on the best team in the NFL in the midst of their downwards spiral. Minnesota has a defense that plays like they sold their collective souls for the ability to thoroughly dismember opposing offenses, and it shows in the numbers. Opposing quarterbacks are averaging a pitiful 5.2 yards per attempt, they’re averaging an absurd 2.4 takeaways per game, and only give up a third down conversion 34% of the time. In other words, they do pretty much everything right on defense all the time and simply challenge the opponent to beat them, which they haven’t. On offense they are much more tepid, but they take care of the football (0.6 fumbles per game and Bradford hasn’t thrown a pick), which is honestly all they need to do with such a nightmare awaiting their opponent on defense. Throw in the fact that the Vikings are coming off their bye and Bradford has probably handed Mike Zimmer everything he remembers about Doug’s offense, and the Eagles are in prime position to drop their third straight game. If they want to stop the bleeding, their only hope is for the defense to wake up and win the turnover battle. That’s a tall task, but if that happens and the game is close - say 16-10 Vikings going into the fourth - the Eagles might be able to pull it out. Otherwise look ahead to Dallas, who is also playing well and coming off their bye for the Eagles... sigh.
The Chargers, who have notoriously played well but find themselves at 2-4, are being hampered almost entirely by fumbles at 2.7 per game... For as bad as Miami has been, they’re only allowing 6.7 yards per pass attempt and a 33% third down conversion rate on defense... The Cowboys are averaging 9.8 rushing first downs per game as Ezekiel Elliot trucks his way towards an OROY award (the next closest team is Baltimore with 8.8 per game).