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Birds at the bye

Most valuable player The all-pro left tackle has been so good that it's easy to take him for granted. With other key pieces missing on the offensive line, Peters has been a security blanket on Nick Foles' blind side. He kept elite pass rushers Robert Quinn and Jason Pierre-Paul from sacking Foles during the last two games. Peters has not allowed a sack since the season opener.

Eagles head coach Chip Kelly talks with the team after a training camp practice. (David Maialetti/Staff Photographer)
Eagles head coach Chip Kelly talks with the team after a training camp practice. (David Maialetti/Staff Photographer)Read more

Most valuable player

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OFFENSE: Jason Peters

The all-pro left tackle has been so good that it's easy to take him for granted. With other key pieces missing on the offensive line, Peters has been a security blanket on Nick Foles' blind side. He kept elite pass rushers Robert Quinn and Jason Pierre-Paul from sacking Foles during the last two games. Peters has not allowed a sack since the season opener.

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DEFENSE: Malcolm Jenkins

Although he might not be a star, Jenkins is a significant upgrade at safety and has been valuable to the secondary. Jenkins is second on the team with 50 tackles and has all three of the team's interceptions. He has been able to play at the line, in coverage, and deep. Connor Barwin and Fletcher Cox have also excelled, but Jenkins filled the Eagles' desire for a quality safety.

Biggest surprise

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OFFENSE: Darren Sproles

Sproles has been one of the NFL's most dynamic players this season and an ideal fit for coach Chip Kelly's scheme. He has averaged 6.4 yards per carry and has the most punt-return yards in the NFL. Sproles has scored in four games, and he was a major reason the Eagles won their first two. All of this has come at age 31 in his first year with the team.

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DEFENSE: Brandon Graham

Even Graham was uncertain whether he would remain in Philadelphia for his fifth season. But the former first-round pick has found new life in 2014, already recording two sacks and seven tackles for a loss. Graham has played 36 percent of the snaps and has appeared more comfortable dropping into pass coverage. He also improved on special teams.

Biggest disappointment

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OFFENSE: Nick Foles

It's too much to ask for Foles to come close to the 27-touchdown, two-interception performance of 2013, but it's reasonable to expect him to take better care of the ball. Foles' 10 turnovers in six games are the most of any quarterback in the NFL. He is completing 59.5 percent of his passes, well below last year's 64.0 mark. Foles has appeared capable of stardom this season and the Eagles are 5-1, but Foles must be more consistent.

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DEFENSE: Marcus Smith

The Eagles' first-round pick did not arrive with the expectation of being a Day 1 starter, but Smith has barely been a contributor in his first season. Smith moved to inside linebacker after Mychal Kendricks' Week 2 injury, which at least allowed him to dress on Sundays. He has only one assisted tackle and has played just 10 percent of the defensive snaps. Smith is not a contributor on special teams, either. Draft picks require patience, so it's premature to make a wholesale evaluation after six weeks. But the early returns are not positive.

Three story lines to watch


They have excelled, with four touchdowns, two blocked punts, and one blocked field goal. Rookie kicker Cody Parkey has been a major upgrade, and punter Donnie Jones remains steady. If the Eagles can continue producing big plays on special teams, they will be even more dangerous.


The coaching staff has stated its confidence in Cary Williams and Bradley Fletcher as the starting cornerbacks. Both played well in the win over the Giants, and both have struggled at times. Nolan Carroll is an experienced option if the Eagles make a change. Brandon Boykin might be the team's best cornerback, but the Eagles prefer him in the slot.


The NFC East will not be easy to win with the way the Cowboys are playing. Dallas is 5-1 with victories over the Seahawks and Saints. Its offense has thrived and has one of the NFL's best offensive lines. The surprise has been a steady defense that has shown significant improvement from last season. The Eagles don't play the Cowboys until Thanksgiving.

Three keys to the final 10 games


The Eagles should hope LeSean McCoy's 149 rushing yards last week is a sign of what's to come. The NFL's defending rushing champion struggled in September, although he's still on pace for another 1,000-yard season. Defenses have been determined to stop McCoy, but a healthy offensive line and more success in the passing game could help him late in the season.


The Eagles have 16 sacks in their last three games. If their pass rush can continue to menace quarterbacks, the Eagles could be one of the NFL's most well-rounded teams. The key has been jumping to early leads and forcing offenses to throw the ball.


Circle Nov. 10 on your calendar. That is when left guard Evan Mathis and center Jason Kelce might both return to the lineup. The Eagles benefited in 2013 from starting the same five offensive linemen all season. If they can get healthy for the final eight games, it will benefit McCoy and Foles.

Game-by-game predictions from Zach Berman and Jeff McLane

Sun., Oct. 26, at Cardinals


The Cardinals are one of the NFL's best teams and should only get healthier. If Darren Sproles is absent with his knee injury, the Eagles will have an even more difficult task.


Carson Palmer is back from injury, and Todd Bowles' defense should be bolstered by the return of Calais Campbell when the 5-1 Cardinals (they should beat the Raiders on Sunday) host the 5-1 Eagles.

Sun., Nov. 2, at Texans


Texans defensive lineman J.J. Watt is one of the best players the Eagles will see all season, but Houston lacks the firepower to keep pace with the Eagles.


Houston, with Bill O'Brien coaching his first season, has already won more games than last season. What might have seemed like an automatic 'W' before the season should be a tough road test for the Birds.

Mon., Nov. 10, vs. Panthers


The expected returns of Jason Kelce and Evan Mathis will help the Eagles offensive line in front of a raucous Monday Night Football crowd.


Sean McDermott's defense is nowhere near as stout as it was a year ago, but Cam Newton has a big receiving target in rookie-of-the-year candidate Kelvin Benjamin.

Sun., Nov. 16, at Packers


The Eagles will learn that traveling to Lambeau Field is more difficult when they must face Aaron Rodgers, who will haunt the Eagles secondary on a chilly Wisconsin afternoon.


The Eagles got a break last season when these two teams met and Aaron Rodgers was sidelined. The Packers defense is suspect, but so is the Eagles', and the Birds have yet to see a quarterback this good.

Sun., Nov. 23, vs. Titans


The Eagles finish a sweep of the AFC South and enter Thanksgiving week with momentum.


Tennessee recently beat the Jaguars by two points. Repeat: The Titans barely held on to beat clearly the worst team in the NFL. You can't overlook any squad, but the Eagles should win here unless they get caught peeking ahead to Dallas.

Thu., Nov. 27, at Cowboys


The Cowboys have won seven of their last 10 Thanksgiving games. Facing a tough team on the road during a short week will be a challenge for the Eagles.


The Cowboys have an easier stretch in their final 10 games, so if the Eagles hope to win the NFC East, they may need to claim both meetings with Dallas. The Cowboys will be coming off a Sunday night game, but the Eagles have to travel on a short week.

Sun., Dec. 7, vs. Seahawks


The Eagles prove they're contenders with a win. This will be a tough game, but a home crowd and the benefit of this game's being sandwiched between two Seahawks tilts against the 49ers help the Eagles.


Seattle has shown only glimpses of its 2013 self so far. Like the Eagles, the Seahawks will be coming off a Thanksgiving game. Chip Kelly's offense against Pete Carroll's defense will be the headliner.

Sun., Dec. 14, vs. Cowboys


After losing to Dallas on Thanksgiving, the Eagles get revenge on their home field in the first of three division games to close the season.


The Eagles offense has a significant edge over the Cowboys defense. The Cowboys offense has the advantage over the Eagles defense. But the Eagles' excellent special teams break the tie.

Sat., Dec. 20, at Redskins


Remember the Eagles' surprising loss in Minnesota last season? Something similar could occur against the out-of-contention Redskins, who will have some key players who did not play in the Eagles' 37-34 win on Sept. 21.


The Redskins, if they haven't shown any resiliency after a 1-5 start, could be dead and buried by this point. Robert Griffin III should be back, though, and he will be an upgrade over Kirk Cousins.

Sun., Dec. 28, at Giants


The Eagles again win the division in the final week of the season. They enjoy the ride down the New Jersey Turnpike with an 11-5 record and a home playoff game on the horizon.


The Eagles will likely have something to play for, whether it be the wild card, the division, or home-field advantage in the playoffs. The Giants just don't have enough firepower to steal one in the series.