With free agency and the draft in the rear-view mirror, a couple national guys have released their first set of power rankings.
And from the looks of it, the Eagles will be a popular choice to go to the Super Bowl when predictions start coming out in a couple months.
Pete Prisco of CBSSports.com ranks the Eagles fifth. The only NFC team he has above the Birds are the Cardinals:
I love what they've done in the past three months. They've added key veterans like left tackle Jason Peters, right tackle Stacy Andrews and corner Ellis Hobbs and added speed to their offense in draft picks Jeremy Maclin and LeSean McCoy. The Eagles are loaded. And let's not forget that they were a team that played in the NFC Championship Game last season, losing to the Arizona Cardinals.
Prisco calls the Eagles the second most-improved team in the NFL, behind the Patriots, who will get Tom Brady back.
He has the Eagles coming in at No. 6:
To me, this is the start of a two-year window for the Eagles. You don't know how much longer Donovan McNabb has at some form of his peak, and if he doesn't get the job done this year or next, the Eagles are sure to look for someone who can lift a talented team over the top. The offense will be younger and more explosive with DeSean Jackson and Jeremy Maclin sure to be used in many three-receiver sets, and maybe even some two-receiver sets. Andy Reid will find a valuable role for LeSean McCoy early, maybe even as the third-down back to give Brian Westbrook a consistent blow. McNabb has the best weaponry, in tandem, that he's ever had on offense. He's got to lift his game to a higher level in big games. I think this team gives him a better chance than the first Terrell Owens team in Philly.
One other link to pass along. According to Aaron Wilson of the Carroll County Times, L.J. Smith missed Ravens minicamp practice last weekend due to a groin problem that can be traced back to his sports hernia surgery with the Eagles.
Smith missed nine games during the past two seasons with the Birds. He only missed three in his first four seasons in the league.
(Waiting for cynical comments to trickle in below...)