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By the Numbers stats preview: Falcons vs. Eagles

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After a strange Week 1 that saw both the Falcons and Eagles struggle, the two teams clash in Atlanta on Sunday. Which team holds the statistical advantage heading into Week 2?

NFL: SEP 06 Falcons at Eagles Photo by Gavin Baker/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

After an abysmal Week 1 showing against the Vikings, the Falcons (0-1) hope to turn things around at home in Week 2 against a true NFC contender in the Eagles (1-0). Atlanta has dropped their previous two games against Philadelphia, losing each by less than one score—and usually due to some awful playcalling in the red zone. Now, the Falcons have an opportunity to play the Eagles in the friendly confines of Mercedes-Benz Stadium.

Starting 0-2 would be very bad for Atlanta, so getting a win this week is paramount. It’s certainly not going to be easy against a team as good as Philly, who had their own struggles in Week 1 against a far inferior opponent in Washington. Let’s take a closer look at the stats to see where each team may have an advantage.

OFFENSE

Statistic Falcons Jaguars
Statistic Falcons Jaguars
Points/game 23.5 (15th) 17.9 (27th)
Total yards/game 370.3 (11th) 344.8 (20th)
Yards per play 5.5 (15th) 5.4 (18th)
Passing yards/game 288.9 (4th) 235.8 (14th)
Passing yards per attempt 7.4 (T-14th) 6.8 (T-18th)
Passing TDs 27 (T-5th) 20 (T-19th)
Rushing yards/game 81.4 (30th) 109.0 (15th)
Rushing yards per attempt 3.7 (T-26th) 4.5 (T-11th)
Rushing TDs 8 (T-23rd) 3 (32nd)
Third Down Efficiency 42% (14th) 33% (28th)
Turnover Margin -6 (25th) -3 (20th)

The Falcons offense was inept for the majority of the game against the Vikings, due in large part to the four turnovers committed—three of which were the fault of the offense, while one belonged to the special teams unit. Overall, the offense was bad: after Week 1, Atlanta is 29th in points/game, 20th in total yards, and 22nd in yards per play. The Falcons were solid passing the ball against Minnesota: 15th in passing yards, 23rd in yards per attempt, and T-12th in passing TDs. Atlanta struggled to get anything going on the ground, however, and finished the game 24th in rushing yards, T-16th in yards per carry, and T-18th in rushing TDs. They were abysmal on third down, converting only 25% of their opportunities (26th), and their -3 turnover margin is tied for worst in the league.

After the Eagles’ slow start, they rebounded in a big way in the second half against Washington. Philadelphia finished Week 1 6th in points/game, 8th in total yardage, and 12th in yards per play. Both the passing and rushing attacks were effective for the Eagles. Through the air, the team is 11th in passing yardage, 17th in yards per attempt, and T-3rd in passing TDs. On the ground, Philadelphia is T-11th in rushing yardage, 19th in yards per carry, and T-6th in rushing TDs. The Eagles were excellent on third down, converting a whopping 65% of their opportunities (2nd), and were even in turnover margin (T-14th).

Advantage: Eagles

DEFENSE

Statistic Falcons Jaguars
Statistic Falcons Jaguars
Points/game 26.1 (25th) 25.2 (23rd)
Total yards/game 362.6 (20th) 372.4 (24th)
Yards per play 5.8 (21st) 6.0 (28th)
Passing yards/game 253.7 (23rd) 232.3 (14th)
Passing yards per attempt 7.8 (T-24th) 7.9 (26th)
Passing TDs 25 (22nd) 21 (T-15th)
Rushing yards/game 108.9 (16th) 140.1 (29th)
Rushing yards per attempt 4.1 (T-10th) 5.1 (31st)
Rushing TDs 13 (T-20th) 19 (31st)
Third Down Efficiency 43% (24th) 41% (22nd)
Sacks 24 (T-29th) 43 (T-5th)

The Falcons’ struggled mightily on offense against the Vikings, but statistically speaking, the defense’s performance wasn’t quite as bad. Overall, Atlanta’s defense is T-21st in points allowed, 7th in total yardage, and 13th in yards per play. The passing defense was barely tested—the Vikings attempted only 10 passes—which has led to the Falcons being 1st in passing yardage allowed but T-23rd in yards per attempt, and T-4th in passing TDs. They had the opposite issue on the ground, with the Vikings running the ball a whopping 38 times. As a result, the Falcons are T-29th in rushing yardage allowed but only a slightly below average 19th in yards per carry, and T-31st in rushing TDs. Atlanta was slightly below average on third down, allowing a 50% conversion rate (T-19th), and about league average in sacks (1, T-18th).

The Eagles’ vaunted defense struggled to stop the passing attack of Washington—which is helmed by Case Keenum and featured few notable weapons. Philadelphia ended Week 1 T-17th in points allowed, 20th in total yardage, and 23rd in yards per play. Against the pass, the Eagles are 28th in passing yardage allowed, T-18th in yards per attempt, and T-22nd in passing TDs. They were dominant defending the run, however, and are 2nd in rushing yardage allowed, 3rd in yards per carry, and T-1st in rushing TDs with zero allowed thus far. Philadelphia was good on third down, allowing only a 38% conversion rate (T-11th), and were about league-average in sacks (1, T-18th).

Advantage: Eagles

Analysis

The Falcons had such a messy game against Minnesota that it’s hard to get a read on just who they are as a team on both sides of the ball. Atlanta’s offense struggled to do anything right early, then started putting drives together after the game was out of hand. On defense, the Falcons actually put together an encouraging statistical performance—their 5.5 yards per play allowed is above average, and they didn’t actually give up any points on drives that weren’t caused by turnovers.

Meanwhile, the Eagles did the opposite: their offense looked awful to start the game against Washington, then managed to rally in the second half for a convincing win. Their defense had a lousy game against the pass but managed to totally shut down the rushing attack of Washington.

It’s still very early in the season, and these team statistics will be very volatile over the first 3-4 games of the season. At this point, it seems like the Falcons may have the better passing defense and the Eagles’ almost certainly have the superior rushing defense. On offense, Philadelphia also holds a decisive advantage after Week 1. There’s a lot of room for change, but heading in to this game, the Eagles have the clear statistical advantage.

Overall Advantage: Eagles


How do you think the Falcons and Eagles compare statistically? Do you think the Falcons have any chance of pulling off a win on Sunday?