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NFL 2016 Week 8 Projections Roundup: Philadelphia Eagles at Dallas Cowboys

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Bye weeks do funny things.

Philadelphia Eagles v Dallas Cowboys Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images

On the road and flying high, the Eagles look to carry whatever momentum gained against Minnesota into Dallas Sunday night. The Cowboys, on the other hand, are riding a five-game win streak and possess some momentum of their own. But, the Cowboys are coming off a bye, and as we know, bye weeks do funny things. Let’s see what the statistical forecasts have to say.

First, here are roundups from prior weeks:

Week 1

Week 2

Week 3

Week 5

Week 6

Week 7 (N/A)

On to this week:

VEGAS: Eagles +4, 29.1% win probability

Last game: N/A

The Eagles opened as five point underdogs but betting has pushed the line to -4. Historical data suggests that four point underdogs win just 29.1% of the time (with an estimated win probability of 37%). Dallas has a middling home field advantage, worth approximately the league average: 2.6 points. If the game were to be played in Philadelphia, the line might be close to even.

538: Eagles, 41% win probability

Last game: N/A

The Eagles have the ninth best Elo rating in the league (1571), just two spots ahead of Dallas (1566). For the Eagles, this represents their best Elo rating in nearly two years. The previous high mark (1621) came on November 27, 2014 when the Eagles defeated Dallas 33-10 to bring their record to 9-3 (you know what happened next). So if Philadelphia’s and Dallas’ Elo ratings are so close, why do we only have a 41% chance of winning? Because 538 adds the equivalent of 2.6 point spread “points” to the home team’s Elo rating, about 65 Elo points. This increases Dallas’ rating to 1631, which would make them the 4th best team in the league (moving up from 11). Without that adjustment, the Eagles would be 0.1 point favorites.

ESPN FPI: Eagles, 39% win probability

Last game: N/A

This week’s matchup against the Cowboys is the sixth best in terms of FPI’s matchup quality index (58 out of 100). According to this measure, the best game this week is New England at Buffalo (89 out of 100), which is actually the highest quality index game of the season so far. Regardless, ESPN Analytics’ FPI favors Dallas with a 61% win probability. Here’s what they had to say about the game:

If the Philadelphia Eagles want to have a realistic shot of winning the competitive NFC East, they need a win Sunday, or their chances of winning the division will drop to 12 percent. The Dallas Cowboys have the highest offensive efficiency and the Eagles have the second-highest defensive efficiency.

Football Outsiders DVOA

If you haven’t heard, the Eagles are ranked number one in DVOA, again, thanks in part to the win over Minnesota. Also thanks in part to their defense (1) and… wait for it… special teams (1!). The offense on the other hand is ranked 24 and faces a Dallas defense ranked 20. However, the most intriguing matchup with be the Eagles top ranked defense against Dallas’ top ranked offense (yep, the Cowboys offense is number one in DVOA). If that matchup is a wash, then Dallas’ defense has a slight advantage over the Eagles’ offense (in terms of DVOA), so FO would probably give a slight advantage to the Cowboys this week, though special teams is always a factor.

Here are some other notable win probabilities:

Dr. K NFL Forecasts – Eagles, 47%, 24-23 (Last week: N/A) Note: game flagged as “Best Bet Against the Spread”, calls for 1-point Eagles’ win.

Dratings.com – Eagles, 46.9%, lose by 2 (Last week: N/A)

Conclusion

This week’s statistical forecasts consistently favor Dallas (Dr. K aside). However, none of these models really take into account any impact bye weeks may have. With two rookie quarterbacks in the mix (albeit, good ones), anything can happen.

According to the interactive Trend Finder below, teams have had a lot of success attacking the left side of Dallas’ defensive line, especially outside, where teams have averaged nearly six yards per carry. Teams also have success throwing right, completing 68% of passes for an average of 8.3 yards per attempt. If the trend continues, look for the Eagles to take advantage.