Sunday Night Football Preview: An NFC East Showdown
The schedule makers never seem to disappoint when it comes down to the timing of when major games are played in the NFL. This week is no different, as the Philadelphia Eagles host the Dallas Cowboys with a clear path to an NFC East title on the line.
Each team enters Week 15 tied at 9-4, and the winner will control their own destiny within the division. Philadelphia finishes up on the road against Washington and New York, while Dallas hosts Indianapolis in a challenging Week 16 battle before a road date with Washington. To say that Dallas needs this game in hand is an understatement, as it would appear Philadelphia, despite being on the road, has a slightly easier path to the postseason. The Cowboys have won three of four overall, with the one loss coming in humiliating fashion on national television on Thanksgiving Day to these same Eagles.
Dallas continues to lean on their offensive firepower, boasting the eighth-best overall offense according to our Adjusted Net Expected Points (NEP) per play metric. The bigger surprise here is that their passing game – not their top-three rushing attack – continues to provide the spark, ranking fourth in the league in efficiency on a per play basis according to our numbers. Tony Romo looks to continue one of his best seasons as starter, as he currently ranks third among relevant signal-callers in Passing NEP per drop back. His 53.6% Passing Success Rate - the percentage of positive plays made by a player - is tops in the league among that same group of quarterbacks.
Based on our numbers, it’s a big shock that Philadelphia is in the position they are. Their offense ranks 19th overall in Adjusted NEP per play, below teams like Arizona and Houston. The Eagle defense continues to impress, ranking first in standard defensive fantasy scoring and fifth overall in Adjusted Defensive NEP per play. The transition from Nick Foles to Mark Sanchez has proven to be an upgrade, as Sanchez, in only five starts, has already amassed a higher Passing NEP, Passing NEP per drop back and Success Rate. Maybe it was the system in New York for the Sanchize after all?
Quarterback play will be a huge factor in what projects to an offensive fireworks display, but looking into our advanced metrics, let’s see how this one shakes out:
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