Monday, September 17, 2012

Eagles vs. Ravens: Behind the Numbers

Another week of "Behind the Numbers" and another Eagles win! Again it wasn't pretty, but a win is a win is a win. The Birds are now 2-0, flying solo at the top of the NFC East. If you missed last week's BtN, check it out here; now on to Week 2 against the Baltimore Ravens.

Obviously this week wasn't as dominating for the Eagles, though it did result in another 1 point win. After last week's sloppy game against a sub-par team, this week's battle against the Ravens was billed as a challenge. There's no way the Birds could play as sloppy as they did last week, right? Wrong. While they definitely played a slightly cleaner game, Michael Vick threw another 2 picks and fumbled; LeSean McCoy fumbled again, already doubling his total from all of last season. Penalties were reduced, but still an issue of concern. In the end, Vick led another late 4th quarter comeback (second in as many weeks) to defeat Joe Flacco (abysmal in the 2nd half) and the Ravens 24-23. Stat analysis after the jump...

 Just a quick glance at the stats will show a similar story from last week, in that the Eagles lead in every category on the graph, even the bad ones. Offensively, the Eagles beat the Ravens in every major category; 161 more net yards, 1.5 yards more per play, 139/18 more yards in the air/on the ground. First downs were clearly in the Eagles favor, and once again they dominated in 3rd down conversions. They actually improved from last week, from a 42% conversion rate to a 47% against the Ravens tough D. It would become clear that the Birds needed any advantage over the Ravens, as they turned the ball over another 4 times -9 in the first two games- resulting in 10 points for Baltimore. On the other hand, both of the Eagles takeaways resulted in touchdowns, so even with the defecit in turnovers they came out on top.

I was surprised that there were only 13 penalties in this game, as it seemed like a flag was thrown on every other play. Chalk that up to the replacement refs slowing the game down, I guess. Both teams were penalized about the same number of times, but once again the Eagles had to beat the other team in every stat and piled up another 58 penalty yards, 13 more than Baltimore. As seen above, time of possession (and total plays) was easily in Philly's favor as they held the ball 57% of the time. Its cliche, but if you can control the ball and run more plays, you should win the game.

Before this week 2 matchup, I was concerned. Baltimore is (or should be) one of the elite AFC teams this year, and coming off a dominating win in Week 1. On paper the Eagles dominated the Browns, but 17-16 score told a different story. I knew the Birds couldn't play as sloppy as they did Week 1, but I was proven wrong. If you told me the Eagles would come out with the W and another 4 turnovers, I'd have slapped you. 4 turnovers against the fierce Raven's defense? Hah! Nice try. But hey, the rest of the stats don't lie, and the Eagles offense once again was able to move the ball down field and the defense was able to keep Baltimore in check. They squeaked out another win, with another perfect late 4th quarter drive. 24-23. Like I said before, a win is a win is a win. Arizona Cardinals, surprisingly 2-0, are the next challenge for the Eagles. I predict a big win; I can't see them playing another sloppy game.

-Fun fact! I never played against him, but I was on the freshman football team in high school when our team was playing Joe Flacco's team as a senior. So, to sound better, I played high school football against Joe Flacco!
-Apparently the Ravens are complaining about the refs, and they have a point. They are making calls and not making calls like replacements. However, Flacco putting the loss on them is asanine; he played like shit in the second half. +1for the Eagles D that clearly frustrated him.
-Remember what I said about the punter last week? Yeah, that doesn't apply here. Average at best.
-Vick needs to make better decisions. That interception on the first drive was a buzzkill, and an awful throw by Vick. His other one wasn't any better.
-Speaking of that first drive, it was great save for the pick. The Birds were lucky to get the ball back almost immediately, and it was a great sign that they picked up right where they left off, kind of (another penalty almost stalled the drive).
-Time out management awful as usual.
-Out of 13 real drives, 4 resulted in scores (up 1 from last week); 5 of the other 9 ended due to turnovers or penalties (another slight improvement from last week). If they could actually score on more possessions than they give up, this team would score 30+ points a game easily.

(Eagles vs. Ravens PDF)

Last week vs Browns: W, 17-16
Next week vs Cardinals: Sunday 4pm

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