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Crunching The Numbers: Week 8

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Eagles falter again.

NFL: Philadelphia Eagles at Dallas Cowboys Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

I’m sure we’re all tired of talking about that gut-wrenching loss, so I won’t beat a dead horse. That really, really, really sucked. Just one more thing before moving on.

Dear sweet baby Jesus do I hate hate HATE the Dallas Cowboys.

Okay. We’re good. To the rankings (the archive is here).

Crunching The Numbers Rank Index, Week 8

New England has grabbed the top spot for the first time this season, which probably makes it on par with other power ranking lists going around the internet. Dallas has also reached a new high as the number two team in the league. As for the Eagles...

Why the Eagles are Third

I know I’ll sound like a broken record, but the simple answer is that the Eagles are competitive. When they win, they win by two scores, and they have yet to lose a game by more than seven points. Until they get flat-out embarrassed on the scoreboard they’re not going to fall to far under this formula. The eye test might say that the Eagles are a middling team given their struggles on offense and the defense’s inability to show up in road games, but the Eagles are a middling team that competes.

Some of the actual numbers are ugly, however. For as good as Wentz has looked his YPA has plummeted to 6.4. This is mostly a combination of his bouts of inaccuracy, conservative play-calling, and the ineptitude of his receivers, but it’s a bad number nonetheless. They’re also fumbling at an abysmal rate of 1.9 times per game. This hasn’t been as catastrophic as San Diego’s fumbling issues (mostly because the bulk of them are bad snaps), but it could eventually hurt them more than it already has, if you can imagine that. And for as vaunted as Jim Schwartz’s defense has been at times they’re allowing over 38% of third downs to be converted, which is middle of the pack.

Overall, the numbers suggest the Eagles are a slightly-above-average team, but their uncanny knack to stay in games no matter how poorly they play shows resiliency. That’s a strong indicator that the coaches are doing something right on at least one front, if not on others.

Week 9 Reconnaissance: New York Giants

The Eagles head into New Jersey York on Sunday desperately needing a division win to keep pace with the Cowboys, who suddenly have a two game lead on the rest of the NFC East and are gifted with a game against the Browns. Luckily, the Giants grade out as the worst team in the division and the only one with a negative score. On defense, they play reasonably well - they only allow 6.1 yards per pass attempt and their opponents are only running against them 36.8% of the time - but their offense has been mediocre at best and awful at worst. While Eli Manning is averaging 7.1 yards per attempt he is also tossing picks on 2.22% of his dropbacks. They also struggle to run the ball; they achieve only 4.4 rushing first downs per game. For comparison’s sake, the Eagles with their (un)stable of running backs averages 6.6 per game and the Cowboys lead the league with 10.1.

So what should we expect on Sunday? Considering how bad these offenses are, probably a low-scoring affair. However, I think the Eagles get the edge because they take better care of the football (relatively), but a lot will hinge on the defense showing up in a division game, which it has yet to do this season. Overall, this game will be about the team responding after losing a game they could have won, so the result will reflect more on the coaches than on the players.

Notes

The AFC West is making a case to be the league’s best division, as all four teams are ranked in the top fourteen... Quarterbacks in Chip Kelly’s offense in San Francisco are only managing 5.3 yards per pass attempt, far and away the worst in the league... The Lions are giving up almost half (49.5%) of third down conversion attempts on defense.