The simplest way to tell if your team is doing well is looking at the standings. But there are other ways to tell whether your team is a legitimate playoff contender or a pretender.
Former NFL head coaches Brian Billick and Jim Mora said on the NFL Network Coaches' Show that two of the most critical variables for determining success are turnover differential and explosive play (run/pass of 20 yards or more) differential. You add those two numbers together and get what Billick and Mora call the "toxic rating." The Eagles are second in the NFL in the toxic rating category with a 30. The Steelers are first in the league with a 31 toxic rating. Both the Eagles are the Steelers are 7-3 this year.
"If in any game, you can win the turnover differential and the explosive gains differential, the chances of you winning that football game were in the 90 percentile," Mora said citing a 10-year statistical study.
The Eagles are first in the league in takeaways with 26. Thanks to the fact that Michael Vick has not thrown an interception, the Eagles have had only 11 turnovers this year. The Eagles have lost only one game (Green Bay) in which they won the turnover battle.
As for explosive plays, the Eagles have 49 this season. On Sunday night against the Giants, the Eagles won the turnover differential (5-2) and the explosive play differential (6-1).
Of course, there are exceptions to the rule. The San Diego Chargers are only 5-5, but are third in toxic rating with a 24. The Eagles' upcoming opponent, the Bears, is also an exception as they have a -4 toxic rating (19th in NFL), but is 7-3 like the Eagles. Chicago is second to the Eagles in creating turnovers with 25, but has given the ball away 22 times.
Following the Chargers in the toxic rating are the Bucs, Falcons, Giants and Packers.
-- Posted by Chris McPherson, 5:20 p.m., November 23