Friday, January 3, 2014

Eagles vs. Cowboys II: Behind the Numbers 2013

PLAYOFFS BABY! The Eagles did what they had to do, and won the NFC East crown thanks to a 24-22 victory over the Dallas Cowboys. Though Kyle Orton was in for Tony Romo, the 'Boys still put up a fight and had a chance until the final drive. It was a close game throughout, but what do the numbers show?

Pretty even stats here, as the final score would indicate. The Eagles actually ran 2 more plays than the Cowboys, but gained about 50 yards less overall, and gained an entire yard less on average. This is unlike most Eagles wins this year, but they did win the turnover battle in this game (only 1 to 3 for Dallas) leading to 10 points. They also performed better on third downs, converting 38% of their chances to only 27 for Dallas. Surprisingly, Dallas gained nearly 100 more yards through the air with Kyle Orton under center, showing they were not afraid to test the Eagles' secondary. LeSean McCoy and the Eagles rushing game answered right back though, outrushing the Cowboys 137-59. And it's not like Dallas shot themselves in the foot with penalties: their only one went for 5 yards and was due to a clock malfunction. In the end, the Eagles were just the better team and they came out on top in the only stat that truly matters. The Philadelphia Eagles will live to play another week, and the Dallas Cowboys will be watching the playoffs from their couches... again.

I'll start with the defense for this game, which wasn't amazing but was far from bad. They played well enough to hold Dallas to only 22 points while forcing 3 timely turnovers. The secondary gave up yards, but restricted the long play to Dez Bryant. Bryant got his yards in, and his only TD came as a result of a Cover 0 blitz and a missed tackle. The running game of Dallas was virtually non-existent, especially after the first half (8 net yards). So those are the positives. The negatives? Zero sacks of Orton, and almost no pass rush. With little pressure, Orton was able to make easy passes and had time to find the open receivers when they broke free. Too many offsides penalties as well, which made things easier for Orton. Jason Witten had a great game, as he seemed to always be the guy open for Dallas. That doesn't bode well for next week when Jimmy Graham and the Saints come marching in. Certainly room for improvement, and it will be needed for Drew Brees next week. Brandon Boykin (tight coverage all night, and the game winning INT), Mychal Kendricks (8 tackles, forced fumble), Bradley Fletcher (6 tackles, fumble recovery), and DeMeco Ryans (5 tackles) led the defense as they have done a lot lately.

The offense also has room for improvement, but played just well enough to come out with the W. The standouts included the usual suspects in LeSean McCoy and Nick Foles, but Brent Celek had a big game and even Jason Avant had some nice grabs. I sure do miss the long game with DeSean Jackson, but apparently the Dallas secondary likes to save their best games for Philly. The Birds scored on 4 of 11 real drives, which matches their number of 3-and-outs. With the good comes the bad, I suppose. The biggest concern I have for the offense is that they basically shut down after the first half, with only 2 drives into Dallas territory. I guess that's a testament to the defense hanging tough, despite the 3 3-and-outs from the offense in the second half. If an offense that isn't fully working scores 24 points, I can't wait to see what next week brings if they fire on all cylinders like the Chicago game. Bring it on.

-Though he will be questioned for the 4th and goal attempt, I think Chip Kelly made the right call. To go for it that is, but not the playcall.
-Special teams played well, which hasn't happened too consistently this year.
-Too many penalties. 6 for 50 coupled with a turnover, and that's not a clean game.
-Where has DeSean Jackson been? I expect a big game from him next week.
-Donnie Jones continues to impress. That last punt he had was crucial, and made any chance of Dallas driving for a game winning FG that much harder.
-They had to have shown Cowboys owner Jerry Jones at least a dozen times, and mentioned him a few more than that. Jeffrey Lurie didn't even get shown until the Birds won, and I don't think he was mentioned at all beforehand. Regardless, the final shot of Jones turning away after the interception was priceless.
-The Eagles must get a pass rush next week to win, I think. If they can get 3+ sacks and force a Brees turnover in the process, they will win.
-Next week will be my first BTN for a playoff game... hoping it is not the last of the season.

(Eagles vs. Dallas PDF)

Last week vs. Chicago: W, 54-11
Next week vs. New Orleans: Saturday, 8pm

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