Two. More. Sleeps. That’s it. Just two more sleeps until Carson Wentz throws his first NFL touchdown. Just two more sleeps until Fletcher Cox sacks RGIII, strips him of the football, and recovers it. Just two more sleeps until the Philadelphia Eagles’ first win of the 2016 NFL season. Welcome back, meaningful football games! For the home team, Week 1 will commence Sunday afternoon. The weather forecast is favorable with a beautiful, sun-splashed, 83 degree day on tap. And as luck would have it, statistical forecasts are also favorable. First, let’s take a look at Vegas.
VEGAS (Eagles -4, 70% win probability)
Vegas knows. Historically, four point favorites win approximately 70% of the time. The Eagles get about a (not so generous) 1.7 point cushion for home field advantage, so if the game were to be held on a neutral field, their chance of victory would fall to 55%.
538 (Eagles, 71% win probability)
538’s Elo ratings are probably the simplest and most elegant methodology out there. Elo ratings are used to rank teams over time (starting with the birth of the franchise), are adjusted one year to the next, and used to forecast game and season outcomes. Currently the Eagles are ranked 16th with an Elo rating of 1488 (1500 is average). Cleveland is ranked 30th (1395). The Elo point spread for this game is a bit larger than Vegas, favoring the Eagles by 6.5 points. With a 71% win probability, 538’s forecast is the most bullish.
ESPN FPI (Eagles, 69% win probability)
ESPN’s Football Power Index (FPI) is more detailed and nuanced than 538’s Elo ratings, but does the same thing. ESPN takes FPI a bit further by providing a "Matchup quality" index, which for this game is a low 25 (out of 100), the second lowest of the week next to Los Angeles Rams at San Francisco 49ers (23). Compare these values to the highest quality matchup between the Carolina Panthers and Denver Broncos (73). We may not have the most exciting game on Sunday, but at least ESPN forecasts a nice result for the Birds.
Football Outsiders DVOA
Football Outsiders (FO) also does weekly projections, but you have to pay for them. I don’t, so I can’t say how they forecast this game. But I can take a guess. The Eagles offense and defense DVOA rankings project to be 26th and 26th in the league, respectively (special teams is 3rd). Setting aside the fact that their defense DVOA projection seems to be GROSSLY incorrect, this is still better than Cleveland, who’s offense and defense both project to be last in the league. The guess here is that FO would forecast an Eagles victory.
Here are some other notable win probabilities:
Dr. K NFL Forecasts – Eagles, 65%, 27-21
Dratings.com – Eagles, 69.6%, win by 7
The numbers seem to agree: the Eagles *should* win this game pretty handily. For more detail on each team’s recent trends, use the viz below.
(PS... Congrats Dave and Ash! It’s a great day; let’s party!)