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Published on 12/26/2009 at Sat Dec 26 08:00.
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Donovan McNabb #5 of the Philadelphia Eagles drops back to pass against the San Francisco 49ers at Lincoln Financial Field on December 20, 2009 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  (Nick Laham/Getty Images)

Donovan McNabb #5 of the Philadelphia Eagles drops back to pass against the San Francisco 49ers at Lincoln Financial Field on December 20, 2009 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Nick Laham/Getty Images)

Breaking down the Denver Broncos‘ opponent from the Football Outsiders‘ perspective. This week: Philadelphia.

Recall that lower (negative) percentages are good on defense, bad on offense and special teams.

We hope you all had a very merry Christmas, and we wish you a continued happy holidays! The schedule makers certainly didn’t give the Broncos anything to be merry about this season, as the Broncos’ Week 16 opponent boasts the league’s top overall DVOA. Yes, the Philadelphia Eagles are the league’s most statistically efficient team. This will be no easy task for the up-and-down Broncos.

Pass Offense: 28.1% (12th)
Run Offense: 15.1 (4th)
This is one case where the FO/DVOA numbers don’t really tell the whole story. The Eagles’ passing offense keys off the big play, and the Eagles have five more plays (20) of 40 yards or more than any other team in the league. Wide receiver DeSean Jackson broke an NFL record for such plays, with he and quarterback Donovan McNabb connecting on nine touchdowns of 50 yards or more. So the numbers to take from this are the rushing DVOA — the Eagles’ 4th-ranked attack suggest the Eagles can get the job done on the ground when needed. What’s more, they expect to get dynamic starting running back Brian Westbrook back against the Broncos. The Eagles are a dangerous, explosive, and efficient offense.

Pass Defense: -16.4 (4th)
Run Defense: -6.2 (15th)
The Eagles don’t have the hard-hitting, consistent presence of Brian Dawkins in the back of their secondary, but their pass defense has still done a good job behind Asante Samuel and company. The Eagles are blitz-happy and don’t hesitate to send two defenders on an A gap blitz, which can be a protection nightmare. This is an area in which the Broncos have struggled this season, so Casey Wiegmann and company can expect to be tested. Their rush defense isn’t the strength of the team, but they still rank in the top half of the league.

Special Teams: 6.4% (3rd)
Jackson is a dangerous returner to boot, and the Eagles boast one of the top special teams units in the league. Mitch Berger needs to have a consistent outing this game; one bad punt to Jackson could really turn the tide in Philly’s favor.

  • Plato

    Philly's pass rush defense isn't that stellar, they've only beaten two teams with winning records this year and neither of them are in the playoff picture (Giants and Falcons).

    Simply put, Philly is 0-3 against teams currently in the playoff picture.

    Not to put them down because they are a great team that needs to be taken seriously, but they're not the usual Eagle team you're used to seeing.

  • Kyle

    Interesting stuff. Still, they're on a 5-game hot streak, and not all of those teams were slouches. And I would say the Giants are in the playoff picture; they just need a little help.

  • Plato

    I used the wrong term, I should have said currently hold a playoff spot. I agree they're a hot team, but they're road to 10 wins has been easier than Denver's to 8.

    Philly is a great team that needs to be tested, the question is, is Denver that team?

  • DantePakistan

    Philly's explosive offense doesn't scare me, as long as we can control their running game and don't have to load up the box, we should be able to limit their big play ability.

    What scares me is our line picking up the blitz, this is where I think we well fail miserably.

  • Plato

    I agree, Orton doesn't ever make them pay for crowding the box. Moreno will never be able to succeed if the safeties never have to drop deep. It doesn't really matter if Marshall has a dozen catches on short slant routes because those plays don't keep the defense honest.

    Besides, the more useless catches Marshall gets will only lead to him asking for an outrageous contract beyond the likes of one Larry Fitzgerald has. No cap is sounding like a good thing for Denver.