If the Philadelphia Eagles lose to the Buffalo Bills in Week 5, the chances of them making the playoffs dwindles down to two percent. If last week’s game was a must win, this game is a “they better win!”
Since 1990, when the NFL playoffs expanded to 12 teams, only five teams have ever made the postseason after starting the season with a 1-4 record.
That’s 21 years at 12 teams per-year, which equals 254 teams total that have qualified for the annual tournament since 1990. Five of those 254 teams started out 1-4, or roughly two percent.
Or further yet, if you’re a betting man (or woman), an Eagles loss this week would put the odds of them making the playoffs at 50-1. In other words, the Eagles better not lose to the Bills or they can pretty much kiss this season goodbye.
So, will the Eagles finally get victory number two against the Bills this week? Yes, they will, and here’s why:
Michael Vick and the Eagles offense are ranked No. 4 in the NFL and will be going against a weak Bills defense that ranks No. 27. As long as the Eagles can figure out how to start converting their red zone opportunities into mostly TDs, they can beat anybody in a shootout.
However, if you’re an Eagles fan, you really don’t want to see the defense getting treated like a bunch of female dogs in a shootout.
So, how will the Eagles defense stack up against the Bills’ No. 9 ranked offense?
Well, conventional wisdom at this point would tell you they’re in for a rough time of it this week.
The Bills run and pass the ball very well. QB Ryan Fitzpatrick does a great job in distributing the ball around and RB Fred Jackson has the fourth-most rushing yards in the league.
This game does have the makings for a shootout with two weak defenses going against good offenses.
However, the Eagles have two main defensive weaknesses. One is their rush defense and the other is their red zone defense. As far as overall yards and catches are concerned in the pass defense, the Eagles are actually pretty good there.
The Eagles’ secondary has been effective in shutting down teams’ No. 1 receiver so far this year. Atlanta’s Roddy White and New York’s Hakeem Nicks were not really a factor in their games against the Eagles.
So, one could expect that WR Steve Johnson will be taken out of the game.
However, when you look at the Eagles’ rush defense, they’ve been putrid if you base it off the stats.
The stats show the Eagles, ranked No. 30 against the rush, as allowing 558 yards rushing on 105 carries. That equates to an unacceptable 5.3 yards per-carry average.
But let’s take a closer look at the numbers, shall we?
In the four games the Eagles have played so far, they’ve given up five big running plays. Michael Turner had a run of 61 yards, Steven Jackson had one for 47 yards, Ahmad Bradshaw had one for 37 yards and Frank Gore had one for 40 and one for 25 yards.
That’s 210 yards given up on just five plays. If you take those away, the rush defense stats look like this: 100 rushes for 348 yards and a much more respectable average of 3.48 yards per carry.
So, if the Eagles defense can just stop giving up one big run per game, their rush defense would be fine.
The other real concern on defense is allowing teams to convert red zone opportunities into TDs. The 2011 Eagles defense is on pace for another historical season as they’ve allowed opponents to score a TD on 80 percent of red zone possessions.
That’s just brutal.
The problem in this area is the pass defense and particularly the linebackers. The Eagles will need to scheme their way out of this problem and hopefully they will.
In general, I think the Eagles’ problems on defense are somewhat correctable by changing up the scheme. They have some good talent, more-so than Buffalo, so that should be enough to give them an edge this week.
Plus, I think the players on this Eagles team had their manhood questioned this past week. Michael Vick spoke about gut checks and Cullen Jenkins spoke about the “man” in everybody needing to come out.
Then, 49ers RB Frank Gore said that the Eagles simply quit in the second half last week.
If NFL players have anything, it’s pride. Each and every Eagles’ defensive player should be highly motivated to come out and play well as a unit this week and show everyone that they’re better than what they’ve shown.
If they don’t, that could very well mean the Eagles will have a two percent chance of making the playoffs after Sunday.