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Eagles have winning point of attack under Gannon | KC Joyner

The Eagles have to build on their momentum of a win over Washington Football Team.

Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Jalen Hurts, left, runs the ball during the second half of an NFL football game against the Washington Football Team, Tuesday, Dec. 21, 2021, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)
Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Jalen Hurts, left, runs the ball during the second half of an NFL football game against the Washington Football Team, Tuesday, Dec. 21, 2021, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)Read moreMatt Slocum / AP

The Eagles offensive ground game is understandably getting a ton of attention right now, as they posted multiple records in the Tuesday night win over Washington. Jalen Hurts set the Eagles’ single-season mark for most rushing touchdowns (10) by a quarterback and joined Cam Newton and Kyler Murray as the only quarterbacks in NFL history to rush for 700 or more yards and tally nine or more touchdowns in a season (per NFL Research). The Eagles have also rushed for 175-plus yards in seven straight games, making them the first club to do so since the 1985 Chicago Bears.

As great as these offensive achievements are, let’s not overlook how well Jonathan Gannon’s rush defense has played over the past couple of months. Since Week 8, the Eagles have allowed only 554 rushing yards, a mark that ranks second best in the league in that span behind Tennessee (494). The excellence doesn’t just show up in the volume, as they have given up only 3.69 yards per carry, a pace that is fourth lowest in that time frame.

This was achieved against a superb set of running backs that includes D’Andre Swift (12 carries for 27 yards), Austin Ekeler (17 for 59), Javonte Williams (8 for 48), Melvin Gordon (9 for 45), Saquon Barkley (13 for 40), and Antonio Gibson (15 for 26). Four of those backs (Ekeler, Gibson, Gordon, and Williams) rank in the top 14 in rushing yards this season, and the Eagles defense made them look ordinary.

The key to this success is that the Eagles are winning point-of-attack blocks on a consistent basis, which is why Gannon’s group leads the NFL in yards before contact per rush since Week 8 (0.6, per TruMedia).

This underrated aspect of the Eagles recent success will be paramount if they want to close the season out with a string of wins, as the rest of the schedule features matchups against Barkley, Gibson, Ezekiel Elliott and Tony Pollard. If this trend continues, the Eagles may have Gannon and the powerhouse rush defense to thank as much as the highly celebrated rushing offense for a playoff berth.

Gambling 10-pack

Here is this week’s gambling 10-pack, a section that reviews some of the top gambling, fantasy, and DFS plays for NFL games in Week 16 (odds per BetMGM).

  1. The Vikings don’t want to get into shootouts (games where each team scores 24+ points) but they can’t seem to help themselves, as Minnesota has been in eight such contests this year. That might not seem like a problem given their offense, but the Vikings are only 3-5 in those contests. The Rams have scored 24+ points in ten contests this season but have only been in three shootouts. That means they should be able to keep up their end of the high-scoring bargain and hold the Dalvin Cook-depleted Vikings short of that, so take Los Angeles at -3.

  2. The Packers defense has been terrible of late by allowing 28+ points in four straight games and 280 rushing yards over the past two weeks. That has led to Green Bay getting in four straight shootouts, but their powerful offense has helped them win three of those contests. Cleveland just doesn’t have the offensive firepower to get into a shootout and their defense isn’t likely to slow the Packers, so take Green Bay -7.5

  3. The Chargers at Texans matchup could end up being moved to a different date depending on the status of the COVID breakout in the Houston locker room. But even if the Texans end up at full strength, their abysmal rushing attack and weak rush defense will give the Chargers gargantuan personnel edges in those areas, so take the Chargers -10 in this one.

  4. The Jaguars at Jets might be the worst game the league has seen this season. The clubs rank last and next to last, respectively, in my Week 16 power rankings. The issue for Jacksonville is its offense has been stuck in neutral for months, as the Jaguars has averaged only 9.6 points per game since Week 6. The Jets just got through putting up 24 points on Miami and have the capacity to post at least 20 points on a subpar Jacksonville defense, so take the Jets at -1.

  5. If the Buccaneers hadn’t lost Chris Godwin and Leonard Fournette to injury, it seems that they would be more than a 10-point favorite over Carolina, but Tampa Bay gets Antonio Brown back this week and has the well-rested Ronald Jones II to carry the rush workload in Fournette absence. Tom Brady’s killer instinct also tends to kick into high gear after a loss like last week, so the Buccaneers are a very good play at -10.

  6. With dozens of players hitting the COVID list every day, depth is going to be an even greater necessity for fantasy managers over these next two weeks. One strong roster addition is Lions wide receiver Amon-Ra St. Brown, who has scored 63.6 points over the past three games yet is still available in just over half of ESPN fantasy leagues.

  7. The aforementioned Ronald Jones II is also a superb waiver/free agent option, as he is still available in over one-third of ESPN leagues.

  8. Add Detroit running back Craig Reynolds to the waiver/free agent pickup list as well if you are in a deeper league. Reynolds may end up getting a platoon-level carry volume even with Jamaal Williams returning.

  9. Dallas Goedert is a great play in DFS. He is significantly undervalued at $5,100 in DraftKings despite having posted 55 points in that scoring environment over his past two games.

  10. Kickers don’t normally rate a mention in this series, as many leagues have punted the kicker position to the curb, but those fantasy managers who are required to play kickers should strongly consider adding Bengals kicker Evan McPherson to their roster. McPherson has been on a scoring tear of late with 63 points over the past five games, including four with 11+ points, and could be in a high-scoring contest this week against Baltimore.

» READ MORE: The Eagles are tied for 8th in the NFL power rankings. Here’s why they’re rising | KC Joyner