It’s time for another exciting edition of Crunching The Numbers. Also, Happy Thanksgiving! Yes it’s a day early, but it’s also my favorite holiday. I hope everyone has a safe drive (if they are traveling) and enjoys the time off from work with their families. [PRO TIP: politics might be a good topic to avoid at the table this year.]
But enough chit chat. Check out the rankings while you’re preparing that brine for your turkey. As always, an archive of the rankings can be found here.
Crunching The Numbers Rank Index, Week 11
Overall, not a whole lot of movement across the board. Seattle was the biggest riser (up six spots from twelve to five) while Arizona, Tennessee, and Green Bay all dropped five spots. Other than that, most teams only moved a few spots. We’re not quite at that point where teams either collapse or surge before the playoffs, but we’re close. It’s something to keep an eye on in the future.
Why the Eagles are Third
What? The Birds are Third? They sure didn’t look like the third-best team in the league on Sunday! Oh, the horror!
Well, the Eagles really did not look like the third-best team in the league against the Seahawks. But as I’ve said before, they are helped immensely by their habit of lopsided wins and close losses. And for what it’s worth, the Eagles are still second in DVOA (they flip-flopped with Seattle). So while Philly doesn’t pass the eye test as a great team, the analysis is consistently painting a different picture.
As frustrating as this sounds, I think that contrast - a team that looks good on paper but not on the field - is really the identity of the 2016 Eagles at this point. They set themselves up well but simply do not have the talent to put themselves over the top. Whether it’s a blown assignment when allowing a 72-yard touchdown run, an illegal formation that wipes out a score, or a collision in the secondary that loses a game in overtime, the mistakes the Eagles make aren’t just frustrating, they are backbreaking.
In other words, the Eagles don’t make a ton of mistakes, which is why their score is so high. But the mistakes they do make are severe enough to cost them games. And I think this is simply a lack of talent. The good news is that talent is a fixable problem... the bad news is we’ll have to wait until March to see that happen.
Week 12 Reconnaissance: Green Bay Packers
There’s no way to sugarcoat it: the Packers are bad this year. Aaron Rodgers, for whatever reason, is in a serious funk as his 6.1 yards per pass attempt is second to last in the NFL behind Blake Bortles. On top of that, they’re fumbling 1.7 times per game and are slightly under the league average in rushing first downs per game (5.7 vs. 5.8 league average).
Defensively, they are essentially mediocre across the board with the exception of one critically important category: passing. The league average for passing yards per attempt allowed is around 6.8. Green Bay clocks in at a laughable 7.7, which puts them on par with teams like Cleveland (8.0), Buffalo (7.6), New Orleans (7.8), and Tampa Bay (7.6). Oakland has proven to be the exception to the rule at 7.8 yards per attempt allowed.
Between Rodgers’ struggles and the Packers’ inability to stop the pass, the Eagles should have ample opportunity to win this game. What will make this game truly interesting is the fact that both teams have their back against the wall in the playoff hunt. In times like this, the deciding factor is often who simply wants it more. That responsibility falls squarely on the shoulders of the coaching staff, meaning that this game can tell us a lot about Doug moving forward.
The Lions fumble the least in the NFL, at 0.2 per game... The 2016 Browns, who may make history as the worst team of all time, give up exactly fifty percent of third down conversions... The Cowboys’ defense sees the least amount of rushes per game, with 33% rushing play percentage against.