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The NFC is wide open, and the Eagles have the X-factor in Carson Wentz | David Murphy

Aside from Aaron Rodgers and perhaps Drew Brees, there isn't a quarterback who can change the game the way Carson Wentz does for the Eagles.

Carson Wentz is the X-factor that makes the Eagles such a big threat in the NFC.
Carson Wentz is the X-factor that makes the Eagles such a big threat in the NFC.Read moreYON KIM / Staff Photographer

Which of them scares you?

Jared Goff? Kirk Cousins?

I mean, really scares you. Like, Fergie-singing-the-anthem, Kanye-debating-Kyrie level scary.

Cam Newton? Alex Smith? Matt Ryan?

Keep going.

Russell Wilson? Drew Brees?

Getting warmer, but keep going.

Aaron Rodgers.

And stop. There it is, 50 percent of a two-man list, the other half of which plays here in town. That is how good Carson Wentz is. That is why the Eagles entered the year as one of a small handful of contenders in the NFC, and it is why you'd be on an awfully long limb to consider them anything but right now.

Everyone knows what the record says. Everyone knows that this team has plenty of warts, plenty of flaws, plenty of reasons to think that 2018 will end up somewhere short of where last season did. I'm not saying they are the favorite, but I'm also not saying that they're not. And anybody who thinks that is crazy talk fails to appreciate just how well the quarterback is playing right now.

Through six games this season, Wentz is completing 70.7 percent of his passes while averaging 298 yards per game. If he were to maintain that pace, he would become just the second quarterback in NFL history to reach both of those thresholds over a 14-plus game season. The other was Brees, back in 2011.

In the interest of intellectual honesty, we should point out that two other quarterbacks are currently eclipsing those marks thus far this season. Both of them — Ryan and Cousins — play for teams that still factor into the playoff mix. But they also play for teams that lost to the Eagles with Nick Foles at quarterback last season. And neither has the combination of arm strength and escapability that makes Wentz such a weapon in the sorts of situations that change games.

Take, for instance, his performance on third-and-long. Since the start of last season, Wentz has thrown for a first down on 33.3 percent of his attempts on 3rd-and-10-plus. Among quarterbacks with at least 45 attempts, only Tom Brady has converted more first downs. The league average is 20.5 percent.

There are a lot of good offenses in the NFC this season. The sophistication of play-calling is improving at a seemingly exponential pace. Sean Payton was very much at the vanguard of that revolution a decade ago. Sean McVay is currently authoring the newest chapter. Both the Saints and the Rams deserve their places at the top of the current conference power rankings.

But the Eagles are right there. If they end up walking into the Superdome on conference championship Sunday, they'll look back and regret the victories they gift-wrapped and mailed away against the Titans and the Panthers. At the same time, this happens to be a season in which a team like themselves can get away with two months of uneven play and a rotating cast of name-brand inactives. They are, by far, the best team in their division, a fact that they should begin to establish in definitive terms when they square off against the Cowboys on Sunday. They still have the inside track on a home playoff game. They still have head-to-head matchups with the Rams and the Saints.

More than anything, they still have an X-factor at quarterback. A lot of people would put Brees ahead of Wentz, and perhaps Wilson, as well. I won't argue strenuously against either of them. But Brees is 39 years old, and the Saints have won more than one playoff game in a season exactly once since he and Payton have been together. Wilson, meanwhile, plays for a Seahawks team that is a shadow of the defensive powerhouse of previous years.

However you configure the hierarchy, the NFC is wide open this season, and the team around Wentz is only getting better. The Saints have allowed 400-plus yards in four of their first eight games. The Packers are under .500 and culpable of negligence for continuing to saddle Rodgers with Mike McCarthy as play-caller. The Rams lack the homefield advantage that serves as such a boon to teams such as the Vikings and the Saints.

There was an argument to make that the Eagles should have stood pat at the trade deadline instead of parting with a third-round pick for an upgrade at receiver, but that argument never included 2018 being a sunk cost. They have a future to worry about, and they will need to draft and develop the pass blockers and pass rushers who will surround Wentz in the second act of his career.

Yet the first act might prove to be the one where the window was open widest. It's a reality we've seen with countless quarterbacks, Rodgers among them. Wentz is only going to get better, but he is plenty good enough now to make up for all of the other deficiencies that exist on the roster.

On Tuesday afternoon, quarterbacks coach Press Taylor was talking about his star pupil's progress since his Week 3 return from ACL surgery, and the improvement he has seen in the functioning of the offense.

"I think you are seeing just the evolution of these guys playing together for more games going into the year," he said. "I think that is something that will probably continue going forward."

There's a good chance the best days are ahead of these 2018 Eagles. In a wide-open NFC, there is no reason to think that Wentz won't be leading the charge.