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November 27, 2017

Eagles are historically dominant in the trenches

When the Philadelphia Eagles out-gained the Chicago Bears on the ground 176 to 6 on Sunday, that was an extreme example of what they have done to opposing teams in the trenches all season. In 2017, through Week 12 of the season, the Eagles have the No. 1-ranked run defense in the NFL and the No. 2-ranked run offense.

"Our running game versus us stopping the run, we've been real dominant there all season long," said Doug Pederson in his post-game press conference on Sunday. #Analysis.

On the season, the Eagles have rushed for 1622 yards. They have allowed just 716 rushing yards. That would be a difference of 906 yards in the Eagles' favor through 11 games. In other words, the Eagles are averaging 82.4 more rushing yards per game than their opponents so far this season.

Obviously, you and I can look at that stat and know it's good. I was curious exactly how good it was from a historical standpoint, and came up with just seven teams since 1983 (the year after the strike-shortened season) that out-gained their opponents by more than the 2017 Eagles have so far. They are as follows:

 TeamRushing yard differential per game 
1984 Bears +99.8 
 2001 Steelers+98.7 
 2014 Seahawks+91.1 
 2007 Vikings+90.6 
 1985 Bears+90.1 
 1990 Eagles+86.7 
 1983 Redskins+83.5 

Five of the above teams ('84 Bears, '01 Steelers, '14 Seahawks, '85 Bears, and '83 Redskins) made it to the Conference Championship Round. Three of them ('14 Seahawks, '85 Bears, and '83 Redskins) made it to the Super Bowl. The '85 Bears and '83 Redskins won it all.

The Eagles are in an outstanding position heading into the playoffs. While they have a MVP candidate in Carson Wentz and a defense that is able to rush the passer and make plays on the back end, they are elite, generally speaking, in the trenches, which is weather-proof in the postseason.

"I think (the run game) is important all season," said Pederson two weeks ago. "And I think down the stretch, when the weather gets a little nasty, whether it's snow or rain or cold weather, whatever it is, the ability to run and rely on your front line, your offensive guys I think is important for you."

Interestingly, the Vikings and Panthers are both ranked in the top seven in the NFL in both rush offense and rush defense, but they are still a long way away from the Eagles' domination in the trenches:

Team Rushing yard differential per game 

It's nothing short of remarkable that the Eagles have been this historically dominant in the trenches without their Hall of Fame LT in Jason Peters, and their really good, young quarterback of the defense in LB Jordan Hicks.

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