Some interesting stats to nibble on before tonight’s Eagles-Panthers game:
— Tonight’s game features the top two third-down offenses in the NFL. The Eagles have converted 39 of 73 (53.4%) third-down opportunities; the Panthers, 34 of 68 (50.0).
— Since 1980, the Eagles’ highest third-down conversion rate in a season has been 44.4, and that was back at the end of the Dick Vermeil era in 1981. Since ’80, they’ve only finished above 40 percent 11 times, and just once since 2011 (43.5 in 2014).
— Carson Wentz is first in third-down passing with a 137.8 rating. He has completed 71.2 percent of his third-down passes, has averaged 11.0 yards per attempt and has 6 TDs and 1 INT on third down. Thirty of his 37 third-down completions have resulted in first downs. Against the Cardinals last week, Wentz was 11-for-12 for 225 yards and 3 TDs. Nine of his 11 third-down completions went for first downs.
— Cam Newton is 20th in third-down passing with a 79.0 rating, but his average of 9.23 third-down yards per attempt is second only to Wentz. Seven of his 17 sacks and three of his five interceptions have come on third down. In the Panthers’ last three games, he’s 16-for-22 on third down, with 11 first-downs. But all three of his third-down interceptions have come in the last three games, as well as five sacks.
— The amazing part about the Eagles’ third-down prowess has been the fact that they’ve been in a ton of third-and-longs. Thirty-five of their 73 third-down situations have been eight yards or more. Only three teams have more – Cleveland (39), Detroit (38) and Arizona (36). But the Eagles have converted 13 of those 35 third-and-longs (37.1 percent), which is the fourth best percentage in the league. Last year, they had the third most third-and-eight-pluses in the league, but converted just 22.1 percent of them and finished 20th> overall in third-down efficiency.
— Wentz’s success on third down has overshadowed the fact that the Eagles’ haven’t been throwing the ball all that well on first and second down. Wentz is averaging just 6.1 yards per attempt on first down. His passer rating on second down is 64.1. The only quarterback in the league with at least 50 second-down attempts with a lower second-down passer rating is the Browns’ DeShone Kizer (38.8). Wentz is averaging just 5.9 yards per attempt on second down.
— The Eagles have used “11” personnel (1RB, 1TE, 3WRs) on 62.6 percent of their offensive plays in the first five games. That’s up from last year when they used “11” 56.2 percent of the time (16 games). That’s not surprising given that they are better and deeper at wide receiver this year. Usage of multiple TE sets is down, which has resulted in fewer snaps for backups Trey Burton and Brett Celek. They’ve used “12” personnel (1RB, 2TEs, 2WRs) 26.1 percent. Last year it was 29.4. They’ve used “13” (1RB, 3TEs, 1WR) 7.5 percent. Last year, it was 10.6.
— Thirty-six of LeGarrette Blount’s 56 carries have been on first down. He’s averaging 5.1 yards per carry on first down, 5.6 in the last three games. Twenty-nine of his 56 carries have been in “11” personnel. He’s averaging 6.4 yards per carry (29-185) in “11”, 5.1 per carry (17-86) in “12”, and 7.1 per carry (8-57) in “13”.
— The Eagles are fourth in rushing first downs per game. They’re averaging 7.4 per game. In their last three games they’re averaging 10 per game. Jacksonville is first with 7.8. Atlanta and Denver are tied for second with 7.5. Blount has a team-high 13 rushing first downs. Eleven of them have come in the last three games.
— Wentz is second on the Eagles in rushing first downs with nine. The only quarterbacks in the league with more rushing first downs than Wentz are the Browns’ DeShone Kizer (11) and the Texans’ Deshaun Watson and the Panthers’ Cam Newton, who both have 10. Dating back to last season, Wentz has 20 rushing first downs in his last 12 games.
— The Eagles have scored a league-high 41 points in the first quarter in their first five games. That’s just 15 points fewer than they scored in the first quarter in 16 games last season. They’ve scored on their first possession in four of their first five games.
— Eagles wide receivers already have six touchdown catches, which is just two fewer than they had all last season. Three of those six TD catches have been 25-plus yards. Last year, Eagles wideouts had just two TD catches of more than 25 yards.
— Tight end Zach Ertz has been targeted 48 times by Wentz in the first five games. Just five other receivers in the league have been targeted more often. None of them are tight ends. Ertz is tied for third in the league in receptions (32), is seventh in receiving yards (387), is tied for fourth in third-down receptions (10) and is tied for fourth in receiving first downs (20).
— The Eagles have blitzed on 22.5 percent of opponent pass plays (47 of 209) in the first five games. Opponents have a 58.0 passer rating, have a 46.5 completion percentage and have averaged just 4.5 yards per attempt when the Eagles have sent extra rushers. Last year, opponents had an 89.6 rating, completed 59.1 percent of their passes and averaged 9.2 yards per attempt when the Eagles blitzed.
— The Eagles have blitzed 12 times on first down, 19 times on second down, 14 times on third down and twice on fourth down. Four of their 12 sacks have been on blitzes, including two last week against the Cardinals on six-man blitzes.
— Opponents are averaging just 16 rushing attempts per game against the Eagles. That’s the fewest in the league. Opponent run percentage against the Eagles is 27.7 percent. That also is the lowest in the league. That probably won’t be the case tonight. The Panthers are eighth in the league in rushing attempts per game (28.0). Against the Lions last week, they ran the ball 28 times even though they gained just 28 yards.
— The Panthers are likely to use rookie running back Christian McCaffrey a lot in the passing game tonight. He has been targeted 24 times in the last three games and has 18 catches, including eight for first downs, in those three games. The Eagles have been OK to this point in defending running backs in the passing game. Opposing running backs have been targeted 29 times. They have 25 catches for 214 yards (8.6 yards per catch) and one TD against the Eagles. That one touchdown came in Week 1 – by the Redskins’ Chris Thompson on a 29-yard scoring pass from Kirk Cousins.
— The Eagles have recovered five fumbles. Only Green Bay has recovered more (6).
— The Eagles are eighth in the league in red zone offense through five games. They’ve converted 10 of 17 trips inside the 20 into touchdowns. The Panthers are 29th in red-zone defense (63.6 TD percentage), but have allowed just 11 trips inside the 20, which is the second fewest in the league. Denver is first with eight.
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