The Eagles got a badly-needed win on Sunday largely by shutting down the league’s best offense. While it was refreshing to see the Birds stop their two-game skid, I’m still wary heading down the stretch. The offense couldn’t find a way into the endzone against a suspect Falcons defense and while the defense was dominant, they’ve been impressive at home all season. I’m looking forward to seeing if they can build on the strong performance against a diverse Seahawks offense in Seattle next week.
That’s my commentary on the win. What do the numbers say? (You can find an archive of past rankings here.)
Crunching The Numbers Rank Index, Week 10
Not a lot of movement in the top ten here, although Baltimore jumped up a surprising eight spots after their big win over the hapless Browns. The top five remained the same, with four out of the five places being occupied by either NFC East or AFC West teams.
Why the Eagles are Third
The Eagles held fast this week in third place after a home win over the Falcons, who were the seventh ranked team going into Week 10. They stayed undefeated at the Linc largely by sticking to the formula that has worked for them: run the ball, disrupt the opponent’s passing game, and get timely turnovers. As it stands through nine games, the Eagles average 6.5 rushing first downs per game (5.9 league average), 1.9 takeaways per game (1.3 league average) and allow 6.4 yards per pass attempt (6.9 league average). This is how the Eagles win games, and it will be a formula they’ll need to stick to moving forward. The numbers suggest they are on the precipice of being a very good team; they just haven’t been able to put it together consistently, especially when they leave the Linc. There is reason to be optimistic about their last seven games (four of which are at home).
Week 11 Reconnaissance: Seattle Seahawks
The Eagles go into Week 11 facing an opponent whose reputation precedes them. Since the emergence of Russell Wilson in 2012, Seattle has perennially been one the NFL’s best teams and nearly impossible to beat at CenturyLink Field. This is easily the toughest game left in the schedule and if the Eagles were to pull out a win it would be the first true “signature” victory of the Doug Pederson/Carson Wentz era.
But how would they do that? Doug and Jim certainly have an uphill battle. Russell Wilson is averaging a respectable 7.4 yards per attempt (league average 6.9) and is only throwing a pick 1.08% of the time, which is almost half the league average. Defensively, they are right up there with the Eagles at 6.5 yards per pass attempt allowed.
However, unlike previous seasons, there are some real, concrete flaws to the 2016 Seahawks that can be exploited. They struggle to run the ball with an average of 4.6 rushing first downs per game and only force 1 turnover per game. Additionally, the defense is allowing 42.9% of third down conversions, which is noticeably lower than the league average of 39.7%. If the Eagles can find a way to establish the run early in the game and get themselves into third-and-short situations, they can make things a lot easier for their struggling passing game and keep what has been an efficient if unspectacular Seahawks offense on the sideline. That’s asking a lot for a game that’s played in Seattle, but they showed against the Falcons that if they stay focused and disciplined it can be done.
The Patriots are tied with San Diego and San Francisco as the worst fumbling team in the country (1.9 per game)... Aaron Rodgers is managing a pathetic 6.1 yards per attempt the season, last in the NFL... Even after Sunday’s game, the Falcons still see the least amount of running plays against them (33.8% of plays called).