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Naylor’s Kickoff: Eskimos a statistical anomaly this season

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TSN Football Insider


Football may not be a sport defined by statistics, but key categories can usually provide a strong indication of the way a team performs from week to week.

That is unless we are discussing the Edmonton Eskimos, the rare team that dominates statistically but is just one game above .500 entering Week 13.

Edmonton’s offence has gained the most yards of any in the CFL this season, while its defence has allowed the fewest. That alone is usually enough to indicate a team that has been dominant over the course of a season.

But the statistical story of the Eskimos doesn’t end there.

The Eskimos have the CFL’s highest second-down conversion rate and gain the most yards per play while also boasting the most plays of 30 yards or more. They have the CFL’s most completions, highest completion percentage, fewest number of interceptions thrown and lowest rate of going two-and-out.

In terms of time of possession, no team’s offence spends as much time on the field as Edmonton’s does.

Yet they rank sixth in overall points scored this season. Sixth!

But it’s not all on offence.

Teams facing Edmonton’s defence have the lowest second-down conversion rate this season and the fewest yards per play. The Eskimos defence is also generating the most two-and-outs.

And when it comes to the all-important skills of getting to or protecting the quarterback, nobody does it better than Edmonton, leading the league in sacks while giving up the fewest.

Individually, they have the league’s leading passer, three of its top-10 receivers and its second-leading rusher. On the other side of the ball, four of the league’s top-10 sack artists are Eskimos.

So what gives?

“I’d rather be last in every category and be 10-1,” said Eskimos general manager Brock Sunderland.

The biggest reason Edmonton has failed to live up to the sum of its parts is the team’s lack of success in the red zone (inside the 20-yard line), where they rank second to last.

For example, in two games against Winnipeg – one decided by seven points and one by six – the Eskimos made 13 trips inside the Blue Bomber 30-yard line that failed to produce a single touchdown.

There’s another pattern that has defined the Eskimos this season.

Edmonton’s six wins have come against........