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Crunching The Numbers: Week 17

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How did the Eagles wrap up the 2016 season?

NFL: Dallas Cowboys at Philadelphia Eagles Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

The Eagles capped off 2016 with a home win against the NFC East champion Dallas Cowboys in a game where Dallas had nothing to play for and trotted out Mark Sanchez to play quarterback. All of that aside, it’s always satisfying to beat the Cowboys and the Eagles technically denied Dak Prescott the honor of breaking the NFL record for wins by a rookie quarterback. Carson Wentz, meanwhile, broke a record on his end for completions by a rookie quarterback (which was previously held, coincidentally enough, by Sam Bradford).

So now that the cleats are away, the stadium lights are off, and the locker room is closed, how did our Eagles ultimately fare in 2016? Let’s see what the numbers have to say. And, as always, an archive of previous posts can be found here.

Crunching The Numbers Rank Index, Week 17

Atlanta leapfrogs Dallas here, mostly because the Falcons had something to play for and the Cowboys did not. Arizona worked its way up to sixth after its 44-6 (woo!) beatdown of the hapless Rams. Outside of that, not too much has changed in the playoff field. But what about the Eagles?

Why the Eagles are 11th

After an up-and-down 2016 campaign, the Eagles settle in at eleventh. On its surface, this might seem high, but I actually think this is about right. The Eagles had a very green rookie head coach and an even greener rookie quarterback. They had middling talent at receiver and cornerback. And yet, they managed to win seven games with the hardest schedule in the NFL and lost six by eight points or fewer. With all of that adversity and poor circumstances, it stands to reason that they had to do a lot of things well on a fundamental level in order to have the relative success that they did.

The big three things they did well was run the ball (7.1 rushing first downs per game; league average 6.8), protect the quarterback (5.14% sack percentage; league average 5.80%), and force turnovers (1.6 takeaways per game; league average 1.4). They also finished with a positive score differential of 2.2 points per game.

Playoff Outlook

Before signing off on 2016, let’s take a look on what the rankings have to say about the playoffs. First up, the playoff seeding:

NFC

  1. Dallas (#3)
  2. Atlanta (#2)
  3. Seattle (#7)
  4. Green Bay (#9)
  5. New York Giants (#12)
  6. Detroit (#24)

AFC

  1. New England (#1)
  2. Kansas City (#4)
  3. Pittsburgh (#5)
  4. Houston (#26)
  5. Oakland (#8)
  6. Miami (#22)

Teams in bold face have a playoff seeding corresponding to their ranking (for example, Green Bay is the winner of the NFC North, the highest-ranked team in the NFC North, and is not ranked higher than the 1, 2, or 3 seeds). Every team in the playoffs is ranked in the top twelve outside of the Lions, Texans, and Dolphins. Don’t be surprised if these teams see an early exit from the postseason.

The best games for this weekend should be New York (#12) at Green Bay (#9) and Oakland (#8) at Houston (#26), since the Raiders will be starting their third-string quarterback.

Even though the Eagles are not in the playoffs, we can still enjoy rooting against the Giants and Cowboys. As always, it was a pleasure doing this (but it got tedious at times), even though it’s understandably not as exciting when the Eagles struggle. So until my next post, enjoy the new year BGN.

Only 113 days to the draft.