Three Eagles Numbers That Matter

Photo by: Jeff Fusco.

Photo by: Jeff Fusco.

From the defensive performance to the most likely playoff scenarios, here are three Eagles numbers that matter.

8 – That’s where the Eagles’ defense ranks in terms of DVOA, per Football Outsiders. It’s time we start looking at stats that actually mean something when analyzing Billy Davis’ unit.

If you look at traditional stats like yards per game, the Eagles rank 24th (366.3). That number is incredibly misleading, when you consider the defense has faced the sixth-most snaps of any team in the NFL. The Eagles also have a +90 point differential, second in the NFC behind only the Packers. They’ve held a lot of big leads on opponents in the fourth quarters of games and have given up some yards at the end. But that does not speak to the overall performance of the defense.

Football Outsiders’ numbers take into account strength of opponent, situation and other factors. They’ve got the Eagles eighth against the pass and eighth against the run. That first number is especially impressive, when you consider the average talent in the secondary.

Davis has done a really good job in Year 2. The Eagles have forced three-and-outs 26 percent of the time; that’s the fifth-best mark in the league. And they’ve given up 1.68 points per drive, also fifth-best. The Eagles have been good against the run all season long and are sixth in adjusted sack rate, which takes into account opportunities, not just overall sacks.

Football Outsiders also has weighted DVOA rankings, which places an emphasis on how units are performing now and less importance on how they performed at the beginning of the season. In weighted DVOA, the defense is fifth.

It’s not a perfect unit, and there are still issues to be ironed out – most notably that the Eagles have allowed 52 pass plays of 20+ yards, tops in the league. But if you look at the right stats, overall, Davis has produced a top-10 unit in his second season here.

15 – Where the Eagles’ offense ranks in DVOA. Some are making Sunday’s matchup out to be one between a juggernaut offense and a juggernaut defense. But that’s not the case. The Eagles have been relatively average offensively all season long.

Again, if you look at yards per game, the Eagles are fourth (416.2). And same goes for scoring (31.2 points per game). But both numbers are misleading. The Eagles are averaging 73.1 plays per game on offense, tops in the NFL. And 10 of the team’s 42 overall touchdowns have been on returns from the defense and special teams.

There have been multiple reasons why the offense has not been as efficient as it was in 2013. And the group has played well the last two games. But overall, the Eagles are turning it over on 17.6 percent of their offensive possessions, second-most. And they’re averaging 4.35 points per red zone trip, which ranks 27th.

The Eagles’ best hopes for making a run down the stretch is to get the offense clicking. Sunday will provide a good measuring stick for where this unit currently stands.

93.5 – The Eagles’ chances of making the playoffs heading into Week 14, according to Football Outsiders. Those odds went up 19.1 percent after the Thanksgiving Day win over the Cowboys. The Eagles have an 89.0 percent chance of winning the division and a 4.5 percent chance of earning a wild-card berth.

What does that mean in terms of seeding? The most likely scenario (33 percent) is that they earn the No. 3 seed, which translates to a home playoff game in the first round. If you’re wondering who the most likely opponent would be, there are still several teams in play: the Lions, Cowboys, Seahawks, Cardinals and 49ers.

The Eagles have a 31.9 percent chance of earning the second seed, which would mean a first-round bye. And they have a 24.0 percent chance of earning the top seed; only Green Bay’s odds (42 percent) are higher among NFC teams.

If you’re a glass-half-full kind of person, this means the Eagles are in great position going into the final month of the season. If you’ve got some Negadelphian in you, this means it would be a monumental choke job for this squad not to make the postseason.