SUPER BOWL BREAKDOWN

Barry Laminack: A statistical look at the Patriots-Eagles matchup

Nick Foles and the Eagles match up well with the Patriots. Philadelphiaeagles.com

It's Super Bowl week!

I'm a stats dork at heart (I think oftentimes they can tell us what to expect, if we are looking at the right ones) so I'm going to break down the Eagles and Patriots statistically based on what I think are the most important stats to consider when evaluating the two teams.

I'm not going to bore you with a bunch of stats you've never heard of because, while I might personally dig that kind of thing, I don't think you have to complicate things to compare the teams for an expected outcome.

When you compare the two teams regular season's it's uncanny how similar of a year they had both offensively and defensively. Of course, you have to keep in mind that the Eagles amassed most of their offensive stats when Carson Wentz was at the helm, but I threw in some postseason/post-Wentz stats as well.

OK, Lets get after it.

OFFENSE

When it comes to offensive statistics the only two stats I really care about are points per game and turnovers. The rest of it, in my opinion, is noise.

It's crazy but when comparing the two teams, they actually averaged the exact same amount of points per game in the regular season, 28.6. The only team to average more per game was the L.A. Rams, who averaged 29.9 a game.

Postseason scoring tells a different story, however. The Patriots put up 35 against the Titans and 24 against a stingy Jaguars defense. The Eagles only managed 15 against the Falcons before surprising everyone and scoring 31 offensive points (plus 7 more on an interception return) against the stingiest defense in the regular season, the Minnesota Vikings.

As far as turning the ball over, the Patriots did a much better job of taking care of the football during the regular season only giving it up 12 times, the second best in the NFL. The Eagles were 11th with 20 turnovers, nine in the air, 11 via fumble.


Here’s a chart comparing the two teams key offensive stats during the regular season:

 

Points/Game – (rank)

Giveaways (Int/Fum) – (rank)

Eagles

28.6 – (2nd)

20 (9/11) – (11th)

Patriots

28.6 – (2nd)

12 (8/4) – (2nd)

DEFENSE

On defense I like to look at three key stats that, in my opinion, have a direct impact on the games outcome: points allowed, sacks, and takeaways.

Much like on offense, it's crazy how close both of these defenses are when it comes to points allowed and sacks during the regular season. Philly gave up 18.4 points a game and the Patriots allowed 18.5. The Eagles also bested the Patriots by only 1 when it came to getting after the quarterback, piling up 36 sacks to the Patriots 35.

The separator between these two defenses is forcing turnovers. Philly was much better at taking the ball away - forcing 19 interceptions and 12 fumbles, ranking fourth in the NFL with 31 total takeaways. The Patriots recovered just six fumbles all year. Combine that with their 12 interceptions and their defense was one of the worst in the NFL at taking the ball away (25th)

Here's a chart comparing the two teams key defensive stats during the regular season:

 

Def Pts/G

Sacks

       Takeaways (Int/Fum) – (rank)

Eagles

18.4 (4th)                         

36 (17th)

        31 (19/12) – (4th)

Patriots

18.5 (5th)

35 (18th)

        18 (12/6) – (25th)


IN SUMMARY

As you can see, the two teams are pretty similar in offensive and defensive points per game. The separation really occurs in the turnover department. The Patriots strength was taking care of the ball, while Philly did a much better job of forcing turnovers.

And while it might seem cliche' - and since the teams are so similar to each other in just about every other key stat - look for the game to come down to who takes care of ball.

I like New England to win 24-21.

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A WEEKLY REVIEW OF O'BRIEN'S COACHING

Not my job: Texans no match for the Ravens

Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images.

The Texans fell to the Ravens 33-16 in a game they had a shot at winning. Most of you reading this will probably think I'm crazy for saying that. I assure you, I meant what I said. One of the reasons they didn't was because Bill O'Brien made a few questionable decisions that cost this team.

The first was the 4th & 1 decision. Deciding to go for it was bad enough. They were down 3-0 near the end of the first quarter with the ball on their own 34-yard line. This is not a situation that calls for a gamble or statement play. The play call itself was okay I guess: a play action bootleg with two short options. It was read and played perfectly by the Ravens defense. Deshaun Watson had nowhere to go with the ball and had to throw it at Darren Fells' back before getting sacked. That led to a quick Ravens touchdown and an early 10-0 deficit. I seriously think he has PTSD after that playoff loss to the Chiefs when it comes to fourth down calls. Bumbling Bill strikes again!

When they got the ball back, they scored a touchdown thanks to more play action passes and pre-snap motion. It was as if Bumbling Bill realized his offensive line was outmatched by the front seven they're opposing. Sure Watson is mobile and looks like a magician escaping sacks, but misdirection helps throw the defense off and keeps Watson from breaking into 177,000,000 pieces. Oh, and the quick reads were a good idea as well. Too bad Bumbling Bill went away from that and opted for longer developing routes. Or will he blame it on Timid Tim Kelly? Or was Waiting Watson holding onto the ball too long? I blame all three.

Also, can we stop starting drives with the predictable run, run, pass combo please? First down should be play action rollout with Watson having the ability to choose to run if it's there. More run/pass/option plays need to be called as well. Incorporate more things that we saw when Watson was on his way to winning rookie of the year before his knee was sacrificed for the Astros.

Credit where it's due: the end of the first half to get a field goal with a minute and change left was good to see. Typically, these situations tend to make Bumbling Bill come out. I liked the quick slant to Cobb with no timeouts. They were able to spike the ball and get the field goal up.

The game was still within reach at 23-13 in the beginning of the fourth quarter. On a 4th & 1, they gave up a 30 yard touchdown run on a direct snap to Mark Ingram. I saw gaps on both sides of the defensive line pre-snap. Sure enough, Ingram got a lead block from the Ravens human plough of a fullback and that effectively put the nail in the coffin at 30-13. I know the tendency is to quarterback sneak or run up the middle, but don't leave gaps along the defensive line trying to stack the middle. First time defensive coordinator Anthony Weaver will take the L on this one.

Overall, I'll give O'Brien and his coaching staff a C- this game. Mistakes were made that could've cost them a legit shot at winning, but the Keke Coutee fumble return for a touchdown wasn't their fault. The play calling menu was brought to us this week by Craft Pita via the "What's Eric Eating" podcast. Tune in next week for another "Not my job!"

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