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Crunching The Numbers: Week 12

The top ten got a huge makeover this week as the Eagles finally plummet out of third place

NFL: Green Bay Packers at Philadelphia Eagles Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Another week, another awful game by the Eagles. The last line of defense for Philadelphia - which was, coincidentally, their defense at home - crumbled last week as Jim Schwartz had no answer for Green Bay’s lightning-fast passing attack. Even worse, the pass rush failed to hit home even on long-developing play-action passes. The corners simply are not good enough to bail out the rush, and Schwartz definitely needs to go back to the drawing board with a wholly underwhelming defensive line. On offense, it was more of the same: a rookie quarterback put in a position to bail out his uninspiring teammates. With the exception of the interception, Carson held his own against a bad Packers defense, but he simply cannot overcome the deficiencies of the rest of his offense.

Barring some miracle, the Eagles are out of the playoffs for the third straight year. At this point it makes more sense to watch the Vikings. But hey, look on the bright side - at least we won’t have that insufferable “tank for a draft pick vs. play to win the game” discussion this year.

But I digress. Onto the rankings! A full archive of previous posts can be found here.

Crunching The Numbers Rank Index, Week 12

Last week I predicted that we were on the precipice of the annual playoff surge/collapse for bubble teams. And right on schedule, the top ten saw some surprising moves after last week’s slate of games. Most notably, New Orleans rocketed up from twenty-first all the way to ninth and Pittsburgh climbed eight spots from twelfth to fourth. Seattle and Buffalo, meanwhile, dropped out of the top ten entirely. And as for the Eagles...

Why the Eagles are Tenth

I’ve taken some heat this season about my analysis since, for the most part, the Eagles have remained somewhere in the top five in spite of their increasingly bad play. I’ll admit it’s bothered me as well. Finally, in Week 12, that all caught up to them as they dropped seven spots from third to tenth. If tenth seems a little high, consider just how lopsided the NFL is this season. You have three very strong divisions in the NFC East, AFC East, and AFC West. After that, the combined win percentage of division leaders is 0.600. The competition outside of the elite teams is pretty bad, which is helping the Eagles stay in the top ten (if only just barely). It’s also apparent in the fact that less than one point separates them from sixth place Oakland and fourteenth place Baltimore.

Another important thing to consider is where the Eagles have come from this season. When my 2016 edition of the rankings debuted after Week 4, the Eagles were on a red-hot three game win streak and graded out at twenty-five points in my formula, easily the best in the league. Eight weeks later and they can’t even manage four points. That kind of free-fall from grace has been unprecedented in my ranking system since its inception. The Eagles have bottomed out in the worst way, and there’s no indication it’s going to get better anytime this season.

Week 13 Reconnaissance: Cincinnati Bengals

This week the Eagles head to the place where Harambe was killed Jerry Springer was once the mayor: Cincinnati, Ohio. The Bengals, who rank twenty-fourth, are having a down season. This might be a blessing in disguise for them because it might actually give management the courage to fire Marvin Lewis. But for now, they’re just not very good.

Offensively, there are some bright spots: they average 7.0 yards per attempt and 6.0 rushing first downs per game, both of which are (slightly) above the league average. Andy Dalton is also taking care of the ball with a 1.47% interception rate, but the rest of the team is struggling here with 1.4 fumbles per game. Their Achilles’ heel has been their offensive line, which is giving up a sack on a whopping 7.27% of pass plays. For reference, the league average is 5.97%. If there was ever a week to breathe life into the defensive line, it’s this week.

On defense they are simply mediocre. Their takeaway rate of 1.3 per game is exactly the average. They are below average in opponent rushing percentage (42% of plays called against a league average of 40%) along with yards per pass attempt allowed (7.0 against 6.8 average). Their third down conversion percentage is slightly above average, 38% to 40%.

Like the Eagles, they struggle to score (19.4 points per game) but have a modest scoring defense of 22.3 points per game. This matchup has all the hallmarks of a boring game, and while a win is certainly there for the taking for the Eagles, their play on the road and recent play overall does little to inspire confidence that this is possible.

Notes

The Dolphins, in the midst of a surprising five game win streak, are only allowing 6.5 yards per pass attempt and 33% of third downs converted... Dallas is currently bulldozing the league with 9.9 rushing first downs per game. The second-best team? Buffalo at 8.5... The Browns’ quarterbacks are mercilessly being sacked on almost one out of every ten pass plays (9.22% sack rate).