The Eagles are almost certainly not going to continue with the ground-centric approach they used to destroy the Lions 44-6, as the club’s decision-makers simply do not believe in operating a run-heavy system.
A likely part of this hesitance is the common coaching lament that ground game play calls cannot be as creative as aerial plays.
That may be true in general, but Nick Sirianni showcased ground game creativity in full measure against the Lions. For proof, take a look at the rush play types and production the Eagles posted against the Lions up until the score was 38-0 in the fourth quarter and Sirianni put backup players into the lineup.
Dive: one for 5 yards.
Draw: one for 10 yards.
End around: one for 10 yards.
Inside zone: five for 24 yards.
Jet sweep: one for 11 yards.
Mid zone: one for 8 yards.
Option: one for 1 yard.
Outside zone: four for 28 yards.
Zone read with handoff to running back: 14 for 52 yards.
Zone read with quarterback keeper: three for 23 yards.
That’s 10 different run-play types, which is a wide variety. Mixing the zone reads in with the mid zone, outside zone, jet sweep, and end around rush attempts also assured that the Lions defense could not sell out to stop the zone read, as they had to take measures to protect their perimeter against the wider developing rushes. The zone read plays also mostly resulted in handoffs to Boston Scott or Jordan Howard, so they saved wear and tear on Jalen Hurts.
This approach worked despite a lack of explosive plays. The Eagles posted a meager 7.1 yards in my good blocking yards per attempt (GBYPA) metric that measures how productive a team is when it gives its ballcarriers quality run blocking. The league average in GBYPA is usually around 8.5 yards and the league low in that category is normally near 7.0 yards, so the Eagles actually did a poor job of getting the most from their blocking.
So why did this tactic work? It’s simple, as the Eagles racked up an incredible 65.6% mark in my good blocking rate (GBR) metric that gauges how often an offense gives its backs quality run blocking (which is very roughly defined as not allowing the defense to do anything to disrupt a rush attempt). The league average in GBR is usually between 35-40% and any single game mark of 50% is considered strong, so this was a truly dominant performance by the Eagles run blockers, but that group led the league in GBR last year and has posted better than 50% marks in GBR several times this year, so it is par for the course.
Rushing elements like this typically don’t consume a large percentage of game plan creation, but they do force a defensive coordinator to invest a lot of time getting his players in the right framework to stop the rush and thus takes some of the opponent’s energies away from preparing for the passing game. It’s also the type of thing that can alleviate pressure on the Eagles defense by slowing a game down and by proxy provide some relief for Sirianni at a time when he still needs all the positives he can get out of this team.
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 9 (gambling odds per BetMGM).
1. Scott and Howard are going to have flex value or possibly even RB2 value in fantasy as long as Miles Sanders is out. They are both still available in a large percentage of fantasy leagues following the Wednesday waiver wire claims and thus should be acquired as free-agent pickups in any league with a decent-sized bench.
2. Fantasy managers should also give strong consideration to putting Scott or Howard into lineups as flex candidates this week. The Chargers have allowed 126-plus rushing yards in all but one game this year and gave up 186-plus rushing yards on four occasions, so Scott and Howard should get enough opportunities to warrant start status in many leagues.
3. Dallas Goedert makes for a strong start candidate in season-long fantasy as well, as per CBS Sports the Chargers have allowed tight ends to score 9-plus points in non-PPR leagues on five occasions and 10-plus points in PPR leagues in all but one game this year. Goedert also rates as a value start in DFS, as he has a $4,500 salary in DraftKings this week.
4. Not having Aaron Rodgers under center lowers the upside potential for Davante Adams in the Packers-Chiefs matchup, but the Kansas City defense is so bad that it gives the Packers the most favorable pass game matchup in Week 9 per my matchup grade rating system. Aaron Jones should also get his usual allotment of carries and will rate as a high-end RB2 with a RB1 ceiling in this matchup.
5. Don’t overestimate the Jets. They caught Cincinnati in a perfect trap game situation last week, as the Bengals were between divisional matchups and playing their third consecutive road game. The Jets won’t take a talented Indianapolis defense by surprise in a short-week road matchup for the Jets. Add in the Colts’ penchant for takeaways (they have tallied two or more in six games this year and posted nine in the past three games) and Indianapolis has a very good chance to cover the -10.5-point spread.
6. Adrian Peterson is apt to get the bulk of the carries in the Titans backfield following the season-ending injury to Derrick Henry, but don’t lose sight of Jeremy McNichols. He may end up taking over as the alternate back behind Peterson and this could turn into a platoon if McNichols plays well and Peterson struggles.
7. Some top streaming D/ST candidates for Week 9 include Dallas (versus Denver), New Orleans (versus Atlanta) and Pittsburgh (versus Chicago on Monday night).
8. Pat Freiermuth should be rostered in a lot more fantasy leagues than he currently is. Freiermuth should be a familiar name, as he set the career record for touchdown receptions by a Penn State tight end, and those skills are starting to show up in Pittsburgh. Freiermuth has already taken over as the primary receiving tight end, having passed Eric Ebron on the depth chart, and he has posted 27.2 PPR fantasy points over the last two weeks. The tight end position is quite thin in fantasy football and Freiermuth may already be a viable weekly starter in many leagues, so be sure to claim him if he is available in your league.
9. Don’t underestimate the impact that having Tyrod Taylor under center could have on the Houston offense. The Texans posted some superb per drive numbers in the six quarters Taylor was under center before he was lost to injury. If he is able to return to the lineup this week as expected, the Texans will have a very good chance to beat an abysmal Dolphins club outright, so take Houston +6.5 points.
10. The Browns are easily the most injury-riddled team in the league right now, as they had 16 players on their Wednesday injury report, including eight who didn’t practice and six who had limited practices. This is a primary factor as to why Cleveland has lost three out of four games and scored 17 or fewer points in four of its last five matchups. This is not a good trend headed into a divisional road battle at Cincinnati, so take the Bengals -3.