The Eagles lost to the Saints this past weekend a lot to a little. In a season full of bad losses, this one was the worst. The Eagles’ defense let up at least 10 points in every quarter for the first time since 1972. On offense, they were unable to get anything going for most of the night in a game where they knew, or at least should have known, that they needed to put up points in order to even have a chance. With the Eagles record now at 4-6, asking yourself whether or not the season is over becomes a valid question.
The Saints scored 10 points in the first and fourth quarters and 14 in the second and third quarters.
The last time the Eagles allowed double-digit points in all four quarters was Nov. 26, 1972, when the Giants went 14-24-10-14 in a 62-10 win at Yankee Stadium.
— Reuben Frank (@RoobNBCS) November 19, 2018
Earlier this season, we wrote about DVOA and how the Eagles faired in those rankings a season ago. In 2017, they were the 5th most efficient team in the NFL, but as their record suggests, they have suffered a fall from grace in that regard. Through 11 weeks this season, the Eagles rank 23rd in overall DVOA, right behind New York and Dallas at 21st and 22nd. This tells us something that we’ve been discovering the past several weeks, and it’s that this football team isn’t very good. Other statistics indicate the same thing.
The Eagles’ offense has taken a big leap backwards. They’re 24th in points per game. Only 33.3% of Eagles’ offensive possessions turn into points, good for 25th in the NFL. They’re 8th in red-zone snaps but only 21st in red-zone percentage, which shows that they aren’t finishing drives. They’re only 13th in 3rd down conversion percentage at 40%, down 4% from 2017. On the other side of the ball, it isn’t any better. Nearly 40% of opponent drives are ending in points, placing the Eagles at 10th worst in the league in that category. They’re 9th in opponent’s average number of plays per drive, which is apparent when you see them unable to get teams off the field on third down. Perhaps the most alarming statistic, though, is that the Eagles are 28th in turnover differential at -9. Last season, they were 4th at +11. The defense hasn’t been good, and injuries surely have played a factor. Being unable to force a turnover and make a play on defense has killed the Eagles this season and is one of the biggest differences between this team and the one from last season.
So is the season over? After how the Eagles have looked the last two weeks, I very much want to say yes. Let’s be real, if this team were to somehow make the postseason, they’d have very little chance, if any at all, at getting by LA, New Orleans, or Chicago. They’ve lost to their sworn rival at home and essentially rolled over and died against the Saints. With that being said, a win against New York this weekend gives them life and places them only one game back of the division lead. For this reason, it’s not over yet – at least for me. That’s not to say we should expect this team to figure everything out and put on a run to the NFC title game. Rather, I’m acknowledging the fact that the division is so weak that at least for the regular season, the Eagles have just as much of a chance at finishing on top of the NFC East as anyone else.
Let’s take a look at the current standings.
Overview of the NFC East
Dallas is fresh off winning convincingly against Washington, who is now left with Colt McCoy under center for the rest of the season after Alex Smith suffered a broken leg. That injury, on top of the ones they’ve already endured on the offensive line, leaves the Washington offense in a tough predicament. They have the softest schedule left among teams in the division, but with McCoy at quarterback and the division as tight as it is right now, it isn’t looking great for Washington. They’re a team that is built to play with a lead, and when they have one, they let Adrian Peterson go to work and manage the game from there. But the offense will have a much harder time now and will likely be looking at more games where they’re playing from behind, leaving the ball in McCoy’s hands more. Washington’s road to winning the division is almost as bleak as the Eagles or Giants.
Speaking of New York, this Sunday is officially do or die for the Eagles season. If they lose this game, then yes, the season is over and we can change our attention to the Sixers, the Phillies free agent hopes, and the NFL draft. With the Eagles secondary decimated and the Eli-to-OBJ connection coming off of a big week, there is reason to believe that it could get ugly for the Eagles in this one. Just six weeks ago, though, the Eagles had success against the Giants and put together perhaps the most complete game they’ve played all season.
The defense allowed Barkley and the Giants running game to have what they wanted, but otherwise put on a great performance and allowed only 13 points. The offense was humming, and Carson Wentz particularly looked at his best. The key for the Eagles to win this game will be for the defense to force the Giants into third down situations. We already talked about the Eagles woes on 3rd down, but the Giants are 26th in the league at converting on 3rd down at 36% and are only 31% in those situations in their last three games. Looking ahead at the schedule for the Giants, after the game against Philly, they face the Bears, Washington, Titans, Colts, and Cowboys. I expect them to lose at least three of these games, which would presumably take them out of the race for the NFC East for good.
Dallas is the team that scares me the most and provides the biggest hurdle for the Eagles in the pursuit of coming back in the division. Their defense can play, and say what you will about Dakota Prescott, but his connection with Amari Cooper looked legit on Thanksgiving. After their win against Washington, it’s their division to lose. Luckily for Eagles fans though, I think they might do just that. They have the Saints, Eagles, Colts, Bucs, and Giants on deck to finish the season, and there is a world where they lose their next three.
Is the Season Over?
Overall, it comes down to how the Eagles fair this Sunday. If they take care of business and leave with a win, the season is very much alive. If they don’t…well that’ll just about do it for the 2018 Eagles. They aren’t great, but neither is the division. The rest of the schedule isn’t easy, but no one else competing for the NFC East has an easy rest of the way either. Eagles fans are right to be disappointed in this team and question what their chances are realistically, but the fact remains that with a win this Sunday they have as much of a chance as anyone to take the division title home. The Eagles are bruised and battered, but they’re not done yet. They won the Super Bowl last season with Nick Foles for goodness sake. Saying the season is over and counting them out of winning three straight against New York, Washington, and Dallas would be premature, at least for a week.