A quarter of the way through the NFL season, it looks like the Eagles are back where fans and pundits expected them to be as they they head into Sunday’s match-up with the New York Jets as 14-point favorites.
Following last week’s win over the Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field on Thursday Night Football, every major sports outlet catapulted the Eagles up their NFL power rankings lists. The biggest jump was on NFL.com, where the Birds moved up 11 spots after Dan Hanzus sent them to “power rankings purgatory” following their 1-2 start.
A lot of the credit goes to quarterback Carson Wentz, who has managed to perform despite injuries to wide receivers DeSean Jackson and Alshon Jeffery. In fact, through the first four weeks, Wentz is Pro Football Focus’ highest-rated quarterback, leapfrogging over Patrick Mahomes, Tom Brady, and Dak Prescott.
Through the first four games of the season, and despite the injuries on offense, Wentz has completed more than 60 percent of his passes for 963 yards and nine touchdowns. (But the Eagles lead the league with 10 dropped passes.) He’s also protected the football, throwing "just two picks in 145 pass attempts this season and none in his last 98 attempts,” my colleague Paul Domowitch wrote.
According to columnist Bob Ford, when Wentz is healthy, “he is above criticism:”
Here’s how national outlets ranked the Eagles heading into Week 5:
ESPN (Eagles ranked No. 11 | Last week’s rank: 15)
“How to increase their playoff chances: Stabilize in the secondary. Hit hard by injuries at cornerback, the Eagles are yielding a league-high 324 passing yards per game. At this point, they need to seriously consider importing talent to fix the issue. Anybody know of any elite corners who would like to be traded?”
NFL.com (Eagles ranked No. 6 | Last week’s rank: 17)
“The Eagles produced a tremendous team effort on Thursday night at Lambeau Field. Facing an undefeated Packers team, on the road, on a short week, with several key players still sidelined, coach Doug Pederson received huge efforts from both sides of the ball in a crucial 34-27 win. The defense stepped up with two goal-line stands in the fourth quarter, and the running game gave the offense much-needed balance on the way to 176 yards. Carson Wentz threw for just 160 yards, but he finished with three touchdowns and avoided the big mistake. Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers couldn’t say the same thing after his forced end-zone pass in the final minute led to the game-clinching interception by Nigel Bradham. Now 2-2, the Eagles get nine days to recover and prep before the winless Jets come to town. Order has been restored.”
NBC Sports (Eagles ranked No. 13 | Last week’s rank: 20)
“The NFC East is officially back in play.”
Bleacher Report (Eagles ranked No. 10 | Last week’s rank: 14)
“Propelled by a rushing attack that gashed the Packers for 176 yards and over five yards a carry, the Eagles rallied after finding themselves in an early hole and pulled off a win that may be looked back on as a season-saver. With a home date against the reeling Jets up next, the Eagles have an excellent chance of getting above .500 and back on track.”
Washington Post (Eagles ranked No. 9 | Last week’s rank: 18)
“The triumph Thursday night at Lambeau Field kept the Eagles’ season from unraveling any further, and Sunday’s Cowboys loss was an added bonus for Philadelphia. That quickly, the Eagles are right back in the NFC East race.”
Yahoo! Sports (Eagles ranked No. 11 | Last week’s rank: 14)
“The Eagles were looking at a three-game deficit in the NFC East had they lost at Green Bay and the Cowboys beat the Saints, and both of those results were expected. Now the Eagles are only one game back after a clutch win at Lambeau Field and Dallas’ close loss. That’s not too bad.”
USA Today (Eagles ranked No. 9 | Last week’s rank: 18)
“Last time they rushed for 176 yards was 2017 Super Bowl season, when Philly was 13-1 when hitting century mark on ground. Keep feeding Howard and Sanders, fellas.”
Sports Illustrated (Eagles ranked No. 5 | Last week’s rank: 15)