Here’s the thing about that awesome Philadelphia Eagles offense: It’s supplemented by a great defense.
The exploits of quarterback Carson Wentz, running backs LeGarrette Blount and Jay Ajayi and a deep group of receivers has been well-chronicled as the Eagles have averaged 30 points per game this season, but the defense also is among the NFL’s best in several statistical categories.
The Eagles have allowed an average of 17.9 points per game, sixth-best in the NFL and slightly better than the Rams (18.5), and the Eagles allow only 293.2 yards per game, third-best in the league.
“I think when you look at a (coordinator) Jim Schwartz-led defense, they do a great job of creating a lot of pressure with a four-man rush, a penetrating front, aggressive,” Rams coach Sean McVay said.
Philadelphia’s defense allows only 6.4 yards per pass attempt, second-best in the NFL, and has grabbed 16 interceptions, tied for the second-most. Seven different Eagles have recorded at least one interception this season, and former Rams safety Rodney McLeod is tied for the team lead with three interceptions.
The Eagles also have allowed only 3.5 yards per rushing attempt, tied for third-best in the NFL, but Philadelphia also hasn’t faced an elite running back in a while, not the caliber of the Rams’ Todd Gurley.
Still, the Eagles have done an impressive job of tightening up this season. A year ago, they were average against the run and the pass, but the Eagles have received outstanding safety play from McLeod and from Malcolm Jenkins, who has a team-high 50 solo tackles and two interceptions this season.
WHO’S COACHING THE EAGLES
Doug Pederson has a journeyman’s career as a quarterback, one that included six NFL teams and two teams in the World League of American Football, but Pederson has found a home as a coach.
Five years after his playing career ended, Pederson joined the Eagles as a quality-control assistant under his former coach, Andy Reid. Pederson later got promoted to quarterbacks coach and moved to Kansas City as offensive coordinator for two seasons when Reid got hired by the Chiefs in 2013.
Pederson returned to the Eagles as head coach last season and went 7-9. The Eagles won their first three games and were in playoff contention until a five-game skid in November and December, but this season the Eagles are headed toward a division title.
BY THE NUMBERS
* 9: Number of years since the Eagles’ last playoff victory. Philadelphia advanced to the…