The Philadelphia Eagles are 10-1 and in the driver’s seat in the NFC East with a 94% chance of winning the division per the New York Times’ playoff simulator. The Eagles also have a 75% chance of clinching the #1 seed in the NFC according to the site – they have a two-game lead over everyone else in the conference. They are one of the favorites to win the Super Bowl with current odds of around +400 depending on where you look.
And yet, you’ve probably heard someone talk about the Eagles being “lucky” at some point this week after yet another close win over a tough team in the Bills. Does the data back that notion up? I sought out to find out if the Eagles truly are lucky and if there’s any value in the betting markets as a result.
Data Suggests Eagles Have Flaws
The Eagles are soooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo lucky.
— Skip Bayless (@RealSkipBayless) November 27, 2023
Is Skip Bayless right? The Eagles have come in clutch in close games all season, going 7-1 in one-score games this year and seemingly always coming up with the big plays late. Jalen Hurts is the current MVP favorite with consensus odds of +125, and his late game heroics have bolstered his resume. Last week, he beat the Bills in overtime with a late field goal drive to send it to overtime where he came up with a game-winning touchdown run.
That game against the Bills provides perhaps the best example to date of the “luck” the Eagles are experiencing. Buffalo outgained them by over 100 yards, and it was the first game since the 2020-21 season where a team with fewer than 400 total yards beat a team with 500+. Josh Allen outplayed Jalen Hurts by all metrics, including EPA where he had a staggering 21.7 total EPA to 2.2 for Hurts.
The Bills ran 92 total plays to the Eagles’ 65 and had over 13 minutes more time of possession. Philadelphia needed an incredibly unlikely game-tying 59-yard field goal by Jake Elliott in the driving rain that had a 20.9% chance of converting per Next Gen Stats. That was nothing new for Elliott as he is 8-8 for his career on game-tying or go-ahead field goal attempts inside the final two minutes of regulation or overtime.
What about the rest of their games? You actually have to go back to October 22, a Week 7 win over the Dolphins, to find the last time the Eagles weren’t outgained in total yardage in a game. The Chiefs held the Eagles to 161 total yards of offense with nine minutes left in their Monday Night Football game before the Eagles made a late comeback spurred by two rare red zone turnovers by Patrick Mahomes and Travis Kelce.
Against the Cowboys, the Eagles were outgained by over 100 yards and seven first downs. In their 38-31 road win over the lowly Commanders, Philadelphia was once again outgained by nearly 100 total yards and lost the time of possession battle. Going all the way back to the start of the season, the Eagles relied on four Minnesota fumbles to beat the Vikings and were outgained by over 130 yards against the now 2-9 Patriots.
All of this has amounted to the Eagles having a luck power rating of 2.9 according to TeamRankings. Only one other team is above 2 on the site. The model factors in everything from turnovers to penalties to offensive and defensive efficiency, and everything in between.
What does all of this mean? If you listen to what the betting market is telling you, it means the Eagles are overdue for a loss. The 49ers have moved from 1-point underdogs all the way to 3-point road favorites against the Eagles this week. Whether or not that line move is deserved is for you to decide as a bettor, but there are some major red flags for this Eagles team, starting on the defensive end.
Explosive Play Rate (15+ yard pass or 10+ yard run):
49ers' Offense: 14.1% (#2 in NFL)
Eagles' Defense: 11.8% (#30 in NFL)
Big plays are to be had this week for the 49ers' offense.
— Akash Anavarathan (@akashanav) November 27, 2023
Philadelphia’s defense has taken a nose dive this season as they rank 23rd in EPA on that end. They have allowed 255.7 passing yards per game, the fourth-most in the NFL, and have struggled in coverage, where they rank 24th according to PFF. Injuries certainly haven’t helped, but Sean Desai replacing Jonathan Gannon may have been a bigger downgrade than originally anticipated.
On offense, the Eagles still have an MVP-level quarterback in Hurts and two All Pro level receivers in A.J. Brown and DeVonta Smith. However, the play calling of first-year offensive coordinator Brian Johnson has often left a lot to be desired. Hurts also still isn’t fully healthy as he has dealt with a leg injury, and his play should only improve as he’s just ninth in success rate and 12th in passer rating this year.
Still a True Contender
The Eagles’ +64 point differential is the second-worst of any 10-1 team in the Super Bowl era. However, it’s still the seventh-best mark in the NFL, so the comparisons to last year’s Vikings are ultimately hollow. Last year, Minnesota went 11-0 in one-score games. We might never see a 13-4 team with a -3 point differential again.
Philadelphia is still firmly in the top tier of Super Bowl contenders with elite line play on both sides of the ball and a quarterback capable of taking over games at a moment’s notice. The team can and should improve with two first-year coordinators and Hurts’s health progressing. They will have to do so as their statistical profile doesn’t resemble a Super Bowl winning team.
With a total DVOA of 15.7%, the Eagles rank 8th in the NFL and are the third-worst 10-1 team since 1981. They’re one of four 10-1 teams to be below a 20% DVOA. None of the other three made it to past the Divisional Round of the playoffs. Looking at the graphic below, there Eagles are in bad company as there’s only one Super Bowl champion out of the 12 teams.
The Eagles are in the driver’s seat to finish as the top seed in the NFC with three games against teams with losing records – the Giants (twice) and Cardinals – to close out the season. If they can win one of their next two games against the 49ers and Cowboys, they’ll all but clinch that top spot and a first round bye.
What it Could Mean For Betting Markets
All told, I’m still highly skeptical of this team’s true Super Bowl caliber, and I’m looking to fade them moving forward. I’d recommend a wager on the 49ers this week at -3 or better and I’d also be looking to get futures on other teams in the Super Bowl market, namely the Cowboys at 10-1 odds. The Eagles are playing with fire right now, and the history of the NFL suggests that it won’t end well.