After last nights convincing victory over Dallas the Eagles took a huge step towards clinching the NFC East and home field advantage throughout the playoffs. Here are 5 numbers from last nights game that help explain why the Birds were so dominant and why they can continue to be moving forward:
The number of interceptions Dak Prescott threw.
I’m honestly not sure which misguided Philly sports debate was more anti-climactic: Ben Simmons vs Lonzo Ball, or Carson Wentz vs Dak Prescott. Both garnered equal amounts of attention. Both spent large amounts of time in the national discussion. Both created similar tension between fan bases. And both ended up as virtual no-contests, as Simmons and Wentz walked away as the unquestioned alpha-dogs in their respective “rivalry” – if we can still call it that. The athletic, physical, and mental inferiority of Dak Prescott (as compared to Wentz) was on full display last night as he spun 3 interceptions into the arms of Eagle DBs to go along with his one fumble. A whopping 4 turnovers on the night were too much for Dallas to overcome and when you juxtapose that with 0 sacks & 0 turnovers from Wentz it’s all of a sudden very clear which QB is “that dude” and which isn’t. I’m glad to say that this debate – which should have never been a thing in the first place – can finally be put to rest.
2. 215 (6.5)
The number of rushing yards (and yards per rush) we had.
Dallas inability to cope with injuries – specifically those to Sean Lee and Tyron Smith – was covered in depth in our preview piece and continued on Sunday night. Without Lee in the middle they’re defense was gashed on the ground to the tune of 215 yards on 6.5 yards per rush. It took a few plays to get the ground game going but once the offensive line got momentum it was smooth sailing for whatever fresh footed back Pederson decided to roll with. The Eagles, with their stable of running backs, are quietly second in the league in rushing only behind Jacksonville. The beauty of this offense is that they can move the ball in multiple ways, but like most offenses it’s at its best when they’re pass game works as a complement to the run game and that’s exactly what they did last night.
The number of times our D-line sacked Dak.
On top of missing Lee the Cowboys have sorely missed left tackle Tryon Smith. And on top of their inability to slow down our run game they were unable to protect their quarterback for a second straight week. Derek Barnett was the benefactor of a matchup with Byron Bell, Smith’s replacement, and notched the first multi-sack game of his career. He, along with the rest of the d-line, was in the backfield all night long and Dak was routinely left scrambling for his life. If you’re looking for a singular reason as to why the Eagles kept Dallas out of the end zone look no further than the constant pressure they were able to generate on their now-exposed franchise QB.
The number of passes defended for Ronald Darby.
Although the secondary has held up well in the 10 weeks he was gone it’s obvious that his presence gave them the true number one that they’ve lacked for the past 5 years. Watching him blanket Dez Bryant and stifle the patented back-shoulder-fade that has been his bread and butter over the years was all I needed to see to justify unloading Mathews prior to the season. Then in the second half on an errant pass from Prescott he recorded an interception that all but put the game out of reach. The addition of Darby to the secondary allows Mills to cover the #2, Robinson to slide to nickel, and Jenkins to play more of his natural position as a box safety. For the first time in seemingly a decade the Birds have a fully healthy and fully capable secondary – when you complement that with their already dominant defensive line then the sky is the limit for this young yet experienced unit.
5. 4, again
The number of games ahead of Dallas in the NFC East.
For a Cowboy team desperately searching for signs of life it’s safe to say that last night’s loss was the proverbial nail in the coffin for any hopes they had of winning the division. Which means we can go ahead and pop the bubbly on a NFC East crown because at 4-0 in the division and four games up on second it’s all but clinched. With one home playoff game on lock the Birds can turn their attention to staying atop the NFC standings and securing a bye plus home field advantage throughout. The Linc is by far one of the more daunting environments to play in on the road, and with Doug Pederson boasting an 11-2 record at home it’s safe to say a top priority for the team is making sure the path to the Super Bowl comes through Philly.