By Dylan MacKinnon
This may be the Eagles’ most impressive performance of the year. The win over the Lions was great, but that had just as much to do with the Lions’ incompetence as it did with the Eagles. But this Broncos team is solid. They were coming off a blowout over the Cowboys. They have a strong defense, and a dependable offense. And the Eagles mostly beat them in every facet of the game. They threw all over them in the first half, ran over them all game, and the defense, while at times leaky, held strong and only allowed 13 points.
Does this mean the season is saved? Maybe. There are still issues, some apparent even in the win. But it is a continued sign of growth. And it just might make them playoff contenders. Even at 4-6. I will explain how with these 5 numbers that tell the story of this 30-13 win in Denver.
The Eagles are now 4-0 when they hold opposing QBs under a 70% completion percentage. On the other hand, they are 0-6 when they do not. It’s a crazy stat that they have allowed that 6 times, but its also crazy they win every game they do not allow it. Only two QBs into the entire NFL came into this week completing more than 70% of their passes. Teddy Bridgwater, who Eagles held to 61% today, and Kyler Murray, who did not play today. This should not have been a recurring issue for the Eagles. But it was. Though for at least this week, they fixed it. Next week they face the Saints and Trevor Siemian (57.7 completion rate). This Eagles defense is different when they play average to mediocre to QBs. The good news is, there are many averages to mediocre Qbs left on their schedule. They only have one Qb left who is top 15 in completion rate. A good sign that there might be some more Eagles wins in these last 7 games.
Devonta Smith has played 11 fewer games than Jalen Reagor. Yet today he passed him in receiving yards already. He ended the day with 36 more receiving yards than Reagor has. He also has one more TD. Smith has 6 games with at least 50 yards. Reagor has 3. Smith has 2 games with 100 yards. Reagor has zero. The Eagles took Reagor hoping he would be their first WR1 since Jeremy Maclin. He is not. He is not even a WR 2, or perhaps a WR3. But Smith is. Smith showed up big time today. 66 Yards, but also two TDs. Including one highlight-reel leaping catch in the endzone. It’s been a long time, but the Eagles finally have a WR to be excited about. His name is not Jalen Reagor. It is Devonta Smith.
Jordan Howard now averages 5.14 yards per carry after a 12 carry and 83-yard day. He does not have enough attempts to qualify, but if he did, that would be 8th among all RBs. Boston Scott by the way now averages 5.12 yards per carry, after an equally impressive 11 carries for 81 yards today. That would be 9th in the league, just behind Jordan Howard. I am not sure what the Eagles will do with carries when Miles Sanders gets back, but it will be hard to bench either of these two. They are just playing too well. You also cant just not use Miles Sanders. They will have to keep 4 Rbs and find ways to involve at least 3 of them. A problem that I am sure the eagles are happy to deal with. Having too much talent is no curse.
The Eagles are one game back from the Panthers for a Wildcard spot. Oh and they have a win over the Panthers, and hence the tiebreaker. They are 1.5 back from the Saints. The Saints lost their Qb for the year. And the Eagles play them next week for a chance to make it .5 games back. Am I saying the Eagles can make the playoffs? Yes actually, I am. They do not deserve to, but they can. And I will explain further in the fifth number that told the story of the game.
Eagles Strength of Schedule the rest of the way is a reason for hope. They play Washington twice, Giants twice, Jets, Saints with a backup Qb, and then the Cowboys which is their lone tough opponent left. That makes for a combined record of 26-37 (.413). I won’t say the word easy. Because with Eagles it is never easy. I will use the word light though.
The Saints meanwhile still have the Bills, the Bucs, and the Cowboys to play. The Panthers have the Bucs twice, and the Bills to play. The Falcons who are a half-game ahead by virtue of having the bye have the Patriots, Bucs, and Bills. Oh, and The Eagles have the tiebreaker over the Falcons. The Vikings (.5 games back) have the Packers twice and the Rams.
Eagles have a shot at the playoffs. They have to take care of their business, and the rest may take care of itself. The NFC Wildcard is wide open outside the Rams spot. This is the year for a mediocre team to weasel their way in by virtue of being less bad than some other teams. Question is, do you trust this Eagles team to do what they need to do. Reminder, they are undefeated vs inaccurate QBs, and they get to play a lot of inaccurate QBs down the stretch. Something to think on.