NFL power rankings roundup: Eagles can taste top spot

NFL power rankings roundup: Eagles can taste top spot

After beating up on the Cardinals, 34-7, in Week 5, the Eagles traveled to North Carolina for a Thursday night matchup against the Panthers. The Birds would use another composed and meticulous performance from Carson Wentz to sneak past the Panthers, 28-23.

Wentz finished with 222 passing yards and three touchdowns — backing up his best performance of the season so far in Week 5 against the Cardinals.

A victory over the Panthers puts the Birds at 5-1. They now hold the best record in the NFC and a 1.5-game lead in the NFC East over the Redskins, who sit at 3-2.

Now the Eagles shift their attention to Washington, which is coming off of a 26-24 victory over the 49ers.

Before the Birds host Washington on Monday night, here's a roundup of where the Eagles landed in this week's national power rankings:

ProFootballTalk's Mike Florio: Up three spots to No. 2
Florio wrote, “Carson Wentz needs to avoid contact, or the Eagles won’t be able to avoid having to play multiple games without him.”

Wentz has been hit a total of 41 times this season on dropbacks, the eighth most in the NFL. And that doesn’t include the number of times he has been hit when running. Wentz has to err on the side of caution when it comes to getting hit because the Eagles would take a huge hit in performance, morale and confidence if he were to be out for a significant amount of time.

NFL.com's Elliot Harrison: Stayed at No. 2
Harrison wrote, “Two things I like — LeGarrette Blount getting 14 carries. Keep working him. Also, Nelson Agholor contributing big plays including the touchdown reception to end a second-half drive.”

Agholor received a lot of criticism the past two seasons because of his inability to catch the football and deservedly so. He has had a solid start to the season thus far. In total, he has caught 20 balls on 30 targets for 321 yards and four touchdowns. The four touchdowns through six games this season are more than his total in his previous 28 games (three). Agholor has become a large part of the passing offense along with tight end Zach Ertz. Don’t expect it to change.

USA TODAY: Up three spots to No. 2
USA TODAY wrote, “Fletcher Cox leads front four that anchors league's best run defense and consistently jeopardizes quarterbacks without much blitz help."

Cox has been invaluable for the Birds this season and as a result, the run defense is in the top five. In the four games he has played this season, he has six total tackles and 2½ sacks. The Eagles haven’t been rushing more than four on most occasions and have been able to get to the quarterback with ease. Moving forward, Cox’s value is huge to disrupting opposing offenses because of his size and speed in the middle of the line.

Yahoo! Sports' Frank Schwab: Up two spots to No. 2
Schwab wrote, “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 resumes.”

Each rankings outlet used in this piece outside of The Washington Post is reluctant to put the Birds at the top spot. While losing to the Chiefs in a close one at Arrowhead could be the tiebreaker for most, I think it is worth considering the Eagles at No. 1. The Chiefs losing at home to a lost Steelers team is something to be taken note of for later.

CBS Sports' Pete Prisco: Up one spot at No. 2
Prisco wrote, “They are on a roll and showed at Carolina that they are one of the best teams right now. The defensive front is nasty.”

Last week, I wrote the game against Carolina was the Eagles’ biggest test thus far and they passed with flying colors. The game wasn’t as close as the score indicated because of a late Carolina touchdown. Cam Newton didn’t have any time to throw and his three interceptions came as a result of the defensive front for the Birds stepping up once again.

The Washington Post's Mark Maske: Up two spots to No. 1
Maske wrote, “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.”

Maske had the guts to put the Birds at the top and they have earned it. The fact of the matter is rankers can’t come to terms with the Eagles at the top because of what happened last year after a 3-1 start. Waiting in the wings on Monday night is Kirk Cousins and the Washington Redskins, who are looking for revenge after an embarrassing performance against the Eagles in Week 1.

ESPN: Up two spots to No. 2
ESPN wrote, “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.”

Lincoln Financial Field has been good to the Eagles over the last two seasons and fans should expect the Linc to be filled to capacity on Monday night. The buzz surrounding the team continues to grow exponentially. Now all the Birds have to do is keep the momentum going.

NFL power rankings roundup: Eagles keep creeping toward top spot

NFL power rankings roundup: Eagles keep creeping toward top spot

After defeating a winless Los Angeles Chargers team in Week 4 by using a strong rushing attack to run out the clock in a “home” game in Carson, California, the Eagles traveled back to Lincoln Financial Field for a matchup with the Arizona Cardinals. The Birds used a brilliant performance from Carson Wentz to blow out the Cardinals, 34-7.

Wentz finished with 304 passing yards and four touchdowns — his best performance of the season so far.

A victory over the Cardinals puts the Birds' record at 4-1. They hold the top spot in the division with a 1.5-game lead over the Redskins, who are coming off of a bye at 2-2.

Now the Eagles shift their attention to another 4-1 team in the Panthers, who are coming off of a 27-24 victory over the Lions.

Before the Eagles travel to Carolina on Thursday night, here's a roundup of where they landed in this week's national power rankings:

ProFootballTalk's Mike Florio: Up four spots to No. 5
Florio wrote, “Get used to the Eagles getting off to great starts to the season.”

It’s true — the Birds are a combined 7-3 in their first five games in 2016 and 2017. Last year’s 3-0 start didn’t turn out well as the Eagles lost nine of their last 13. The Eagles must continue to trust the run game and let Wentz be Wentz to continue their success thus far.

NFL.com's Elliot HarrisonUp one spot to No. 2
Harrison wrote, “About the only thing that didn't come to fruition in the Eagles' most impressive win of the season was the huge outing predicted for Corey Clement, who was mostly a non-factor.”

Clement was supposed to see an uptick in production with Wendell Smallwood out because of a knee injury. All in all, he registered only seven carries for 17 yards. This week may also be tough for Clement with a Panthers team ranked ninth in the NFL in rushing defense.

The No. 2 ranking may be a little ambitious considering what happened last season. I just don’t see them being better than the Packers and Panthers at this point. Aaron Rodgers is playing his best football and Cam Newton, aside from all of his attention in the media for the wrong reasons, has beaten the Patriots in Foxborough and found his rhythm after a slow start. Thursday night is a big game in that aspect.

USA TODAYUp three spots to No. 5
USA TODAY wrote, “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.”

Last week, USA TODAY dropped the Eagles down three spots after a victory over the Giants. This week, they have realized that error and made the proper correction. Now the Eagles are ranked among the top five teams in the league.

One game at a time should be Doug Pederson’s motto moving forward. If this team gets ahead of itself, the Eagles could find themselves in the same position as last year when the playoffs start.

Yahoo! Sports' Frank Schwab: Up two spots to No. 4
Schwab was very impressed with the Eagles and wrote, “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.”

Agholor has proved to Eagles fans that he belongs in the league after a horrid year of drops in 2016. This shows the confidence Howie Roseman and staff had in him to trade Jordan Matthews in the offseason for Ronald Darby.

CBS Sports' Pete PriscoStayed at No. 3
Prisco wrote, “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.”

Thursday night will be the biggest test of the season for the Birds. Yes, playing Kansas City in Arrowhead was a huge challenge but I don’t think many Eagles fans thought they would win that game. Thursday night, the offensive line will be tested with the possibility of Lane Johnson being out because of a concussion. Julius Peppers looks to have been reborn in his second stint with the Panthers and poses a threat on the edge.

The Washington Post's Mark MaskeUp two spots to No. 3
Maske wrote that the Eagles’ schedule will get tougher 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.”

Look at the next five games for the Eagles — at Carolina, vs. Washington, vs. San Francisco, vs. Denver and at Dallas. Four of those games on paper will be tough. Washington walloped Oakland and should have beaten the Chiefs in Arrowhead. The 49ers should be no problem. Denver’s defense is scary regardless of whether it's on the road or at home, and Dallas could have Ezekiel Elliott or not depending on an official ruling on his suspension. We will know who the Birds really are after this key stretch. 

ESPN: Up four spots to No. 4
ESPN wrote the Eagles have the best odds to make the playoffs in the NFC with an 86 percent chance and, “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.”

It is no secret — the Eagles are at their best when they are running the football effectively. LeGarrette Blount has found his footing in Philadelphia and the best way to keep pressure off of Wentz is a solid rushing attack.

NFL power rankings roundup: Eagles among elite after Week 4

NFL power rankings roundup: Eagles among elite after Week 4

After defeating a winless Giants team in Week 3 on a 61-yard Jake Elliott field goal, the Eagles traveled to the West Coast for a matchup with the winless Chargers. The Birds used strong efforts from LeGarrette Blount and Carson Wentz to prevail, 26-24, last Sunday.

A victory over the Chargers puts the Birds at 3-1. They now hold the top spot in the division with a one-game lead over the Cowboys and Redskins, both at 2-2.

Now the Eagles shift their attention to a 2-2 Cardinals team coming off of an overtime victory against the 49ers.

Before the Birds return to Lincoln Financial Field for a Sunday afternoon tilt with the Cardinals, here's a roundup of where the Eagles landed in this week's national power rankings:

ProFootballTalk's Mike Florio: Up four spots to No. 9
“It’s a good thing the Browns didn’t think Carson Wentz would be good," Florio wrote.

NFL.com's Elliot Harrison: Up three spots to No. 3
“High ranking for the Eagles. However, with what we know at this point in the season, how can Philadelphia not be here,” Harrison wrote. “Doug Pederson's outfit is tied for the best record in the NFC, leads the East and seems to have fixed the glaring weakness that every fan, blog and LinkedIn piece was fixated on during the preseason: the ground attack."

USA TODAY: Down two spots to No. 8
“Run game has improved every week, culminating with 214 yards Sunday," USA TODAY  wrote. "Looks like LeGarrette Blount has settled in after zero carries two weeks ago.”

Yahoo! Sports' Frank Schwab: Up four spots to No. 6
“The Eagles have a pretty deep offense. Three backs got 10 or more carries on Sunday,” Schwab wrote. “Alshon Jeffery and Torrey Smith had 38 yards combined, but Zach Ertz and Nelson Agholor had solid games. The Eagles lead the defending NFC East champion Cowboys by a game, and it doesn’t seem like they’re going away anytime soon.”

CBS Sports' Pete Prisco: Up two spots to No. 3
“They won a tough road game at Los Angeles with a bunch of injuries on defense,” Prisco wrote. “That's impressive.”

The Washington Post's Mark Maske: Up three spots to No. 5
“It was a nice bonus for the Eagles to have that home-away-from-home game at StubHub Center,” Maske wrote. “They already have beaten the Redskins and Giants and are the early front-runner in the NFC East. Few expected that. But with the Giants winless and the Cowboys not living up to expectations, their chances cannot be discounted.”

ESPN: Up five spots to No. 8
“The Eagles have allowed the fewest points in the first three quarters of games this season but have allowed the second-most in fourth quarters," ESPN wrote. "Philadelphia has three wins, but the past two were by a combined five points. If the Eagles can tighten up in the fourth quarter, they could start winning more comfortably.”