Three Eagles Numbers That Matter For Giants Week

The Eagles might be better than some think.

Eli Manning. (USA Today Sports)

Eli Manning. (USA Today Sports)

Here’s a look at three numbers that matter as the Philadelphia Eagles prepare to play the New York Giants this week.

1 – The Eagles rank first in DVOA as determined by Football Outsiders.

The Eagles also own the NFL’s second best point differential.

In other words, there’s a case to be made the Eagles are better than their 4-3 record indicates. Yes, the Eagles aren’t without their flaws. The offense is a below-average unit and the lack of weapons at skill positions is a major problem. But on the whole, the Eagles aren’t a bad football team. If the Eagles had beaten the Cowboys last Sunday, they’d currently be the No. 1 seed in the NFC.

The Eagles’ problem is that they’ve had trouble closing out games they were in position to win. Philadelphia would have won in Detroit if not for a bad Ryan Mathews fumble near the end of the game. Bad coaching decisions from Doug Pederson, along with a Wendell Smallwood fumble, doomed the Birds in Dallas. The Eagles need to stop beating themselves in order to win more games.

There’s still long-term hope for this 2016 Eagles team, but the Birds really need a victory this week. It should be a very winnable game for the Eagles. Philadelphia is the better team on paper, for what it’s worth. The Giants rank 17th in DVOA and 20th in point differential.

17.1 – The Giants rank 28th in offensive points per game.

The Giants spent a lot of money during the 2016 offseason to improve their abysmal defense. So far, it’s worked. New York ranks fifth in opponent yards per play (5.1) and 10th in points allowed per game (20.1).

What hasn’t improved, however, is the Giants’ offense. New York is only averaging 17.1 offensive points per game. The G-Men rank dead last in time of possession (25:57). The Eagles, meanwhile, rank first in the league (32:24).

A big reason why the Giants haven’t been able to stay on the field is due to their poor conversion rates. Ben McAdoo’s offense ranks 30th in third down conversion at 32.6%. New York has only converted 42.1% of their red zone attempts, which ranks 29th in the league.

The presence of Eli Manning and Odell Beckham Jr. gives the Giants a viable way to move the ball through the air. But the New York ground game has been bad, averaging just a 29th-ranked 3.3 yards per attempt.

The Eagles’ defense should be able to keep New York’s offense in check on Sunday. Jim Schwartz’s unit has played well in recent weeks. There’s reason to believe Philadelphia’s defense can play a big part in helping them beat the Giants.

63.5% – The Eagles have the second best playoff odds in the NFC East, per Football Outsiders.

FiveThirtyEight puts the Eagles’ chances lower at 44%, but that figure still ranks second in the division.

Here’s a recap of the current NFC East standings. Division record included in parentheses.

1 – Dallas Cowboys 6-1 (2-1)
2 – New York Giants 4-3 (1-1)
3 – Philadelphia Eagles 4-3 (0-2)
4 -Washington Redskins 4-3-1 (2-1)

Though virtually every week could be considered a “must-win” for NFL teams, this is especially true for the Eagles on Sunday. Falling to 4-4 overall with an 0-3 record in the division would be hard to overcome in order to make the playoffs. The Eagles’ backs are against the wall against the Giants.

“I think the emphasis is greater, for sure,” said Pederson. “Teams that want to make the postseason, obviously have to handle their division. Right now, we’ve put ourselves in a little bit of a hole.

“So yeah, the importance of winning this game is probably a must for us in the division.”

Elsewhere in the NFC East, Washington has a bye this week. They’ll play at home against Sam Bradford the Vikings (5-2) next Sunday.

The Cowboys are in Cleveland this week to face the winless Browns (0-8). It would take a big upset from Hue Jackson’s squad to get a win over Dallas. Could this be a trap game?

If not, and the favored Cowboys win, they’ll be 7-1 with a two-game lead over the next closest team in the division. The Eagles can make sure they’re that team in second place by beating the Giants.