Are the Eagles the best team in the NFL?
If you had asked that question just last month, you would have been laughed out of town amid a steady flow of predictions that the talented but flawed team would post a solid 8-8 or 9-7 record.
Fast-forward to this week, and the 5-1 Eagles are at or near the top of nearly every single ranking or poll, as well as in the forefront of a lot of experts’ minds.
“There is no question that right now at this juncture of the season, they are the second- or the first-best team in the NFL, right there with the Kansas City Chiefs,” CBS NFL analyst and New York sports talk host Boomer Esiason said on Sunday’s NFL Today before the Packers likely lost Aaron Rodgers for the year because of a broken collarbone.
“Think about this. They’ve already played four road games. That is most in the NFL. They’re 3-1 on the road, 4-0 in the NFC, and things are really looking bright in a very dark time in the NFL,” Esiason continued. “They are looking bright in Philadelphia.”
Things also appear to get easier for the Eagles. According to columnist Bob Ford, only four of the 10 remaining games will be played against teams that have winning records right now, and three of those teams are just 3-2. The Rams seem to be their toughest opponent at 4-2, but that Week 14 game will take place in the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, which is likely to be half-empty and include many Eagles fans.
So what’s the biggest problem the Eagles face? “Determining how to pay the police overtime for next February’s parade,” my snarky colleague Ed Barkowitz wrote. “Oh, and there are also 10 more games to play.”
Here’s how national outlets ranked the Eagles:
ESPN (Eagles ranked #2 | Last week’s rank, #4)
“The 5-1 start to the Eagles’ season is bolstered by the fact they’ve won three on the road. Now they get to play their next three at home, where they’re 2-0 this season and 8-2 over the past two years.”
NFL.com (Eagles ranked #2 | Last week’s rank, #2)
“Analysts and fans alike should take a deep dive into Carson Wentz’s budding career. While he’s been mentioned as a rising star, Wentz fell behind Jared Goff in the 2016 NFL Draft and behind Dak Prescott in the full-throttle evaluation analysts give these guys right off the bat. Yet, for all the fine statistical analysis, Wentz didn’t enjoy the benefits of the league’s leading rusher in 2016 or the top offensive line in football. Nor could he boast a true WR1 to go to in the clutch. Now, with an improved supporting cast around Wentz, we’re seeing who the best quarterback from last year’s draft really is. He’s more accurate and uses his legs more effectively … yes, even better than Prescott. Through five games, Wentz is the eighth-rated passer in the NFL, but at the top on pro football’s biggest down (130.5 passer rating on third downs). And he’s a huge reason Philly is 5-1.”
NBC Sports (Eagles ranked #2 | Last week’s rank #5)
“Carson Wentz needs to avoid contact, or the Eagles won’t be able to avoid having to play multiple games without him.”
Bleacher Report (Eagles ranked #3 | Last week’s rank, #8)
“Plain and simple, the Eagles are one of the best teams in football. They’re definitely one of the top teams in the NFC… Philadelphia’s defensive front seven goes from really good to special when Fletcher Cox is in the lineup. As we saw against the Panthers, Cox can take over a game. There are still questions about the secondary, but when the defensive front plays like it did in Carolina, some of the deficiencies can be masked.”
“The Eagles are a tough, physical team on both sides of the ball. They don’t beat themselves on defense, and they have a balanced offense that can control the tempo and the clock. The Eagles are going to be a factor all season long.”
Washington Post (Eagles ranked #1 | Last week’s rank, #3)
“Will the Eagles be the NFL’s best team at season’s end? Probably not. But they are making progress and they have earned the top spot after an impressive triumph Thursday night at Carolina. Second-year QB Carson Wentz is getting better all the time while utilizing the help he has around him on a bolstered offense. The defense is pretty solid. Another major test looms Monday night with the Redskins coming to Lincoln Financial Field.”
Yahoo! Sports (Eagles ranked #2 | Last week’s rank, #4)
“A good argument can be made for them being No. 1. However, they played the No. 1 team and lost. It was a competitive game in Kansas City, but it’s still part of the resume.”
Sporting News (Eagles ranked #2 | Last week’s rank, #4)
“Carson Wentz is slowly building his MVP case, but the biggest strength of this team is premier play on both the offensive and defensive lines. They are a legitimate threat to finish atop the NFC in the end.”
USA Today (Eagles ranked #2 | Last week’s rank, #5)
“Fletcher Cox leads front four that anchors league’s best run defense and consistently jeopardizes quarterbacks without much blitz help.”
Sports Illustrated (Eagles ranked #2 | Last week’s rank, #5)