After Philadelphia’s 34-7 drubbing of the Arizona Cardinals on Sunday, there’s one thing national and local sports writers appear to agree on: The first-place Eagles are for real.
Carson Wentz continues to build on his impressive sophomore season, hurling four touchdown passes in the win, including a 72-yard strike to Nelson Agholor on third and 19. According to my colleague Paul Domowitch, Wentz tops the league this season with a 137.8 passer rating on third down, completing 71.1 percent of his passes and averaging 11 yards an attempt.
Even Donovan McNabb was impressed with Wentz’s performance, praising the young quarterback after the game (and after he asked for an autograph for his son).
“He works extremely hard. He’s prepared for it,” McNabb said. “I don’t know if I can tell you that he’s bulletproof or anything. Here, in this town, they want to see winners. They want excitement, and that’s what they’re bringing them right now.”
National sports outlets also seem excited about Wentz and the 4-1 Eagles, who moved into the top 4 in nearly every NFL power rankings this week. Here’s how national outlets ranked the Eagles:
ESPN (Eagles ranked #4 | Last week’s rank, #8)
“The Eagles have the best playoff chances [of any] NFC team by a nose (one-tenth of a percent). What has the Eagles soaring? Ball control. They’ve converted a league-best 53 percent of third downs, and they’ve averaged a league-best 35 minutes, 32 seconds of possession this season.”
Bleacher Report (Eagles ranked #8 | Last week’s rank, #10)
“The team’s public relations department might as well have issued a press release declaring the Eagles will be contending for a championship in 2017,” wrote NFL writer Brad Gagnon. “That’s how impressive they were in a 34-7 drubbing of the Arizona Cardinals, as quarterback Carson Wentz and the Eagles confirmed they now have remedies for most of what prevented them from contending last season.”
CBS Sports (Eagles ranked #3 | Last week’s rank, #5)
“They’ve won three straight heading to a big NFC battle with the hot Panthers in Carolina Thursday night. They still need more consistency from Carson Wentz, despite his good start.”
Washington Post (Eagles ranked #3 | Last week’s rank, #5)
“The toughest part of the Eagles’ schedule is still to come. That is undeniable, and it begins with Thursday night’s game at Carolina. But win or lose against the Panthers, the Eagles have shown enough to prove they should have staying power. Carson Wentz is legitimate, making the Eagles a factor in the division chase all season.”
Yahoo! Sports (Eagles ranked #4 | Last week’s rank, #6)
“I’m very impressed with this team. The Cardinals might be a shell of what they were a couple seasons ago, but the Eagles demolished them. They’re even getting big contributions from players like Nelson Agholor, who looked like a sure bust before this season. This is the best team in the NFC East.”
Sporting News (Eagles ranked #4 | Last week’s rank, #10)
“Carson Wentz is fearless, tough, athletic and strong. Those are really not enough adjectives to describe the second-year QB’s breakout play. Philadelphia is here also because it’s so strong on both fronts, making up for its back-end defensive weaknesses.”
USA Today (Eagles ranked #5 | Last week’s rank, #8)
“Carson Wentz deserves accolades coming his way. But credit offense that holds ball nearly 36 minutes per game, 2 minutes more than any other team.”
Sports Illustrated (Eagles ranked #5 | Last week’s rank, #8)