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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.

The Process is ready for primetime

The Process is ready for primetime

Basically, you saw everything you'd want to see from Ben Simmons, Dario Saric and Joel Embiid during the Rising Stars Challenge on All-Star Friday night, as they kept doing what they've basically done all February: winning. 

Ben Simmons was electric all over the court, ending with 11 points (5-5 FG, mostly dunks), six boards, a game-high 13 assists and a team-high four steals. A still-locked-in Dario Saric was the beneficiary of a handful of those dimes, ending with 18 points (7-11 FG, 4-7 3PT), three boards and five assists. 

Joel Embiid had an underwhelming stat line in his thankfully clipped playing time (just eight minutes after sitting out Wednesday's game — we'll see him more on Sunday), ending with just five points and two boards, and not exactly displaying the defensive dominance we're accustomed to from our big man. But the five points came on back-to-back possessions in the third, where JoJo nailed a top-of-the-break three and then scored on a dunk following a Fultzian spin move to the basket, showing the range of his skills in an appropriately breathtaking (and Internet-slaying) manner. 

And of course, the Sixers — I mean, Team World — won handily, outscoring Team USA in every quarter and ultimately triumphing 155-124. Even though Sacramento's Bogdan Bogdanovic took home MVP honors on the night for his white-hot shooting night (26 points on 9-16 FG, including a handful of Steph Curry-esque extended pull-up triples), I thought Simmons was the best all-around player on the floor, another thumb in the eye of the All-Star committee that snubbed him (four times!) for the proper game on Sunday night. 

Perhaps more importantly, the Sixers' presence just dominated the game altogether. Hell, they made up 3/5 of Team World's starting lineup — no other team had more than two representatives, across both squads, though the Lakers would have were Lonzo Ball available — and in the broadcast booth, the TNT guys couldn't stop talking about Embiid all night, comparing him to Hakeem and debating whether they'd ever seen a big man of his versatility before. 

And to think, this year they'll actually be represented on Saturday and Sunday, too. Hopefully Ben and Dario get a nice, relaxing All-Star break from here — they've certainly earned it — and now, it's Embiid's spotlight. The Process is ready for primetime, baby, and longtime Trusters should make sure to enjoy this moment as much as JoJo himself undoubtedly will. 

Chris Long defends LeBron James after attack from Fox News host

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AP Images

Chris Long defends LeBron James after attack from Fox News host

Chris Long is beloved by Philadelphians for much more than rocking a full-lenghth faux fur during the Eagles' Super Bowl championship parade. Most in Philly respect Long because he is one to speak his mind on whatever topic he sees fit. He's also a man of action, not just talk.

So when Fox News host Laura Ingraham attacked LeBron James and Kevin Durant for expressing their views on Donald Trump, Long stood up for his fellow athletes.

"Keep the political commentary to yourself, or as someone once said, 'shut up and dribble,'" Ingraham said.

As someone who hears "stick to sports" on a regular basis, this commentary hit close to home for the Eagles defensive end.

Long took exception and wanted to point out some of the people Ingraham's own network has on for their own political commentary. He launched into a Twitter thread pointing out some of the political experts.