Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Worrying About Math

I worry about math. It is what I do for a living. And “the math” tells you an awful lot about your football team and where it is going.

That being said, there is little direct encouragement from the Eagles 16-9 soporific win over the Jets Sunday. I guess it is a road win- never can discount those, but gosh: the Jets are real bad. And yes, the defense is gaining credibility. Remove the entire garbage time nature of the Detroit game- and the defense has allowed three touchdowns in four games. That is math working for you- not against!

The defense isn’t without issues- but they seem correctable. The normally strong defensive backfield is temporarily short two Pro-Bowlers- which means opponents can complete balls. But get the Eagles in the red zone, with the back of the end zone acting as an extra defensive back- and the Eagles are a unit than can stop you. The defensive front is young; Trent Cole continues to be a relevation. Get the other good corner on the field, and the Eagles have a good unit between the 20s too.

I’m not going to re-hash the obvious problems on offense. One touchdown against the Jets is not encouraging (although the five field goal attempts suggests they are moving the ball). Obviously, absent Westbrook, Philadelphia is easy to play against; they don’t scare. The quarterback natural elusiveness is largely gone- which is real problematic inside the red zone. The wide receivers are back to being a problem. The whole thing feels like last year when it took the Eagles eleven games and six losses to figure out how to play professional offense. Hopefully, it won’t take as long this year.

But back to the math. The math that worries me is the schedule. It is easy to look at what passes for the three-win teams (for today, a fair accounting of the group the Eagles will fight the wild out card with): Detroit, Washington, Seattle, Arizona- and remark fairly confiedently the Eagles are on that level.

But Philadelphia has three losses already, plus two games I don’t think they can win: at New England, at Dallas. That equals five, leaving just one loss in the remaining nine games to get to six for the season. Philadelphia has four division games left- and can probably only lose one- a tricky proposition in an improved NFC East. I guess they could get in at 9-7 too- but their slate is already littered with division losses- with makes a tie-breaker tricky.

I just don’t think 10-6 is likely anymore with the schedule left- which makes the play-offs less than a 50-50 proposition at this point.