To help warm you up on this bitter cold day in the Philly area, here are 5 random notes on the Eagles, the day before their first playoff game since 2010.
1) Brandon Boykin is good.
Brandon Boykin has had a tremendous season, and has become one of the Eagles' best players, despite playing in just 51.7% of the Eagles' defensive snaps, according to ProFootballFocus.
Despite the fact that he barely played half the snaps this season, Boykin has 6 interceptions, which is tied for 2nd in the NFL. Boykin intercepts one pass per every 105.8 snaps he's on the field. Here's how that compares to the other players around the league with at least 5 interceptions. (The lower the snaps per INT, the better)
Last season, all the Eagles' defensive backs combined intercepted 7 passes on the entire season, or one more than Boykin got on his own in 2013. Four of those picks occurred in the Week 1 game in Cleveland. They had 3 picks the final 15 games. Here's how many snaps per INT the Eagles' defensive backs had in comparison to Boykin in 2013.
Boykin isn't just making huge plays. He's making them at very key moments.
— Philadelphia Eagles (@Eagles) January 1, 2014
Boykin isn't just a ball hawk. He can also tackle. According to ProFootballFocus, Boykin has only missed 2 tackles this season. Among CBs with at least 40 tackles, Boykin is the 3rd most sure tackler in the league.
And finally, according to PFF, among CBs who have played at least 600 snaps, opposing QBs have the 5th worst QB rating in the NFL when they target Boykin.
Conclusion: To repeat, Brandon Boykin is good.
2) For weather purposes, where did the Eagles and Saints play college ball?
A lot has been made of the Saints playing in the cold this Saturday, but head coach Sean Payton noted that several of his guys played at cold weather colleges. For what it's worth, here's a map of where the Eagles' and Saints' 22 starters played college ball. The Eagles are the blue dots, the Saints are the yellow dots. (For a bigger version, click here)
34% of the starters in this game went to Alabama, Cal, Cincinnati, or Oklahoma.
3) The Eagles did indeed pick the right year to go 4-12.
Last year, the draft was regarded as a weak class, particularly because it was devoid of good QBs. As a result, it was common for people like me (and including me) to say that the Eagles picked the wrong year to be awful. The Colts for example, ended up with the #1 overall pick at the right time twice, landing Peyton Manning in 1998, and then Andrew Luck in 2012.
It turns out that people like me were dead wrong in that assessment. The timing of the Eagles' horrid season lined up perfectly with Chip Kelly's willingness to jump to the NFL. Kelly's value appears to be every bit as high as a franchise QB.
Oh, and Nick Foles turned out to be pretty good anyway.
...and Lane Johnson looks like he'll be very good.
...and the rest of the draft played out nicely as well, with the Eagles scoring several additional players (Zach Ertz, Bennie Logan, and Earl Wolff) who have already made their mark on this team as rookies.
That 4-12 season may have actually been a blessing in disguise.
4) The Saints added a spy
The Saints added CB Eddie Whitley to their practice squad this week. Whitley spent training camp with the Eagles, and looked like he might be a surprise player to make the team. Unfortunately for Whitley, he got hurt, and then cut. You can bet the Saints will try to squeeze whatever knowledge they can out of Whitley this week.
This is common practice in the NFL, and one the Eagles also employ. Earlier in the season, they signed Emmanuel Acho off the Giants practice squad and may or may not have waterboarded him on what he learned in his brief time with the Giants.
Emmanuel Acho confirmed that the Eagles did indeed question him on what he saw in his time with the Giants.
— Jimmy Kempski (@JimmyKempski) October 23, 2013
5) Nick Foles clearly never created himself in Madden
In the history of the Madden video game series, nobody who has ever created themselves designed their facemask to look like Nick Foles' facemask.
Those slanted outside bars just kill me. Brian Dawkins' and Michael Vick's helmets are the gold standard for cool looking helmets. The odd thing is that Dawkins' and Foles' helmets really aren't that much different, and yet, they're light years away in terms of swag rating.
Dawkins obviously has the visor, and some players don't like that, which is fine. But even the above Dawkins helmet, minus the visor, is worn with a certain level of swagger by Brent Celek.
Foles finished with a passer rating of 119.1, which was the best passer rating in the NFL this season. It was also the 3rd best passer rating in the history of the NFL. According to the Eagles, Foles is the only player in NFL history to throw more than 20 TDs (he had 27) and 2 or fewer INTs. He also had the best TD:INT ratio (13.5 to 1).
And yet, he didn't make the Pro Bowl. I'm convinced it's because of those two slanted bars on his face mask.
Follow Jimmy on Twitter @JimmyKempski.