I hope everyone enjoyed their early Christmas present of watching the Eagles deny the Giants an opportunity to control their playoff destiny in Philadelphia. Of course, New York still clinched a wild-card spot on Saturday regardless, but we’re not going to talk about that.
This win, while technically meaningless in every aspect, was critically important for the Eagles. Doug Pederson was able to show he can beat a division rival in a game with playoff implications and the team showed that they still believe in the coaching staff. If the players had given up on what the coaches were teaching - as they did with Chip Kelly last season - you wouldn’t see the defense put in such a strong performance and you wouldn’t see Carson Wentz throwing blocks on end-arounds. There was enough shown on the field to suggest that with a few minor tweaks to the roster (particularly at wide receiver and cornerback) the Philadelphia Eagles can be a competitive team within the structure they are building.
Enough optimism for the future for now (even if that’s all we have at the moment). What do the numbers look like after a thrilling weekend of football? A full archive of previous posts can be found here.
Crunching The Numbers Rank Index, Week 16
Nothing too groundbreaking here outside of Kansas City moving all the way up to fourth after their big win over Denver. Green Bay, in the midst of a huge playoff push, has cracked the top ten for the first time since Week 7. It’s also their highest ranking of the season and a full eighteen spots ahead of their lowest ranking in Week 11. Definitely a two-faced season for the Packers.
Why the Eagles are 12th
According to the rankings, the Eagles just barely edge out the Giants in spite of New York having four more wins. This discrepancy is best summed by the fact that the Giants have found ways to win close games this year while the Eagles have found ways to lose them. New York has managed to win seven games decided by eight points or fewer, while the Eagles (as I’m sure you’re aware) have lost six games in the same category. And that simply boils down to experience. The Giants have a quarterback who has won two Super Bowls, while the Eagles are starting a rookie. Growing pains are going to happen. The bright side of this is that Philadelphia should find ways to win more of these games in the future.
As for the numbers themselves, we can credit the Eagles’ bump to the return of Lane Johnson (sack percentage dropped from 5.42% to 5.19%; league average is 5.77%) and to inspired play by the secondary (takeaways per game increased from 1.5 to 1.6 thanks to three picks; league average is 1.4). Other than that, most metrics remained fairly consistent as they are unlikely to change much at this point in the season.
Week 17 Reconnaissance: Dallas Cowboys
There isn’t much to look into this week since the Cowboys should be resting their starters, and even if they don’t I wouldn’t expect more than a vanilla game plan to try and keep everyone fresh for the playoffs. We know what the Cowboys do well: they pound the rock (9.2 rushing first downs per game), take care of the football (0.88% interception percentage), and force their opponents to play catch-up (33.2% opponent rushing play percentage). All of that being said, it will be interesting to get a sense of depth for the Cowboys to see how well they play with the backups in against the Eagles’ starters.
It’s also likely to be the last game we’ll see Tony Romo in a Cowboys uniform. Look, I hate the Cowboys as much as any of us do, and I enjoyed making fun of Romo during his run in Dallas. But there’s no denying that the guy is a great quarterback, a true class act, and all-around good guy. He was so good on the run and so elusive that forcing a pick or sacking him just felt better than it did with other quarterbacks, and I’m going to miss that. Personally, I think he should retire after all of his injuries so he’s not in a wheelchair by the time he’s 45. But I give the guy credit for wanting to compete. So here’s to wishing Romo luck in his next venture (*cough*Denver*cough*) and looking forward to what should be a great rivalry in Wentz vs. Prescott for years to come.
As I said last week, there will be no more “notes” section since we’re so close to the end of the season. Have a safe and happy New Year everyone... don’t get too drunk on champagne, and if you do please don’t drive! Let’s make 2017 a better year than 2016 was, which in all honesty shouldn’t be too difficult.