December 05, 2022
The Eagles pummeled the AFC South-leading Titans on Sunday. Jalen Hurts is playing like a serious MVP candidate, A.J. Brown and DeVonta Smith are catching any and everything, and the defense successfully shut down one of the league's top running games.
They're 11-1, lead the NFC East, and have a hold over the No. 1 seed in the conference with no signs of slowing down.
So you'd figure they'd be the best team in the NFL, right?
Well, not according to ESPN, which seems to be playing some wild 9D chess with its power index model.
Based on their projections, the Eagles rank fourth on their charts and only have the fourth-highest likelihood of making and winning the Super Bowl at 29.6% and 12.8%, respectively. Dallas, behind them in the division at 9-3, somehow has the highest probability to make it and win at 50.1% and then 31.1%.
A quick explanation from ESPN on how its power index works:
"The Football Power Index (FPI) is a measure of team strength that is meant to be the best predictor of a team's performance going forward for the rest of the season. FPI represents how many points above or below average a team is. Projected results are based on 10,000 simulations of the rest of the season using FPI, results to date, and the remaining schedule. Ratings and projections update daily."
Yeah...I don't know, man.
Have the Cowboys been playing well themselves? Yes.
Since getting Dak Prescott back under center, they've won five of their last six, including a 54-19 blowout of Indianapolis Sunday night, to stay afloat within the playoff and divisional race.
But the Eagles have answered any and all challenges too, save for that one loss against a now streaking Washington, and have arguably done so to a more impressive degree by winning in numerous different ways.
And while certain categories within ESPN's power index do favor the Eagles, it's hard not to feel like they're being sold way short here.
For example, the Eagles do have the highest probability of winning the NFC East at 72.6% (Dallas is only at 27.5%), and in terms of overall efficiency, the Eagles chart out at the top at 74.2% (Dallas is third at 68.5% and Buffalo second at 73.5%).
More questionable, however, is that the Eagles are being given little chance of beating the Cowboys on Christmas Eve Week 16, according to ESPN's model. Dallas is being given a 71% chance of winning that game, which is shaping up to be a collision course for the East regardless, while the Eagles have a 28.7% shot with 0.3% odds of a tie.
Just to compare, FiveThirtyEight's NFL predictions model does favor the Eagles more at this point in the season. They're all but a lock for the playoffs, have an 80% chance to win the division, a 74% shot to capture the NFC East, and the highest likelihood of winning the Super Bowl at 20%. The Cowboy are fourth in all regards.
And the Eagles, while they didn't get the help needed to do it this week, are also in position to be one of the first teams to punch their ticket to the playoffs.
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