The700Level

NFL power rankings roundup: Eagles soar to the top

ap-carson-wentz-drops-back-redskins-eagles.jpg
AP Images

NFL power rankings roundup: Eagles soar to the top

The Eagles used the energy of a packed Lincoln Financial Field and a four-touchdown performance from Carson Wentz to defeat the Washington Redskins, 34-24, on Monday Night Football.

Wentz finished with 268 passing yards to go with his four scores — yet another tremendous effort from the sophomore quarterback.

A victory over the Redskins put the Birds at 6-1. They now hold the best record in the NFL after the Chiefs lost to the Raiders on Thursday night and a 2.5-game lead in the NFC East over the Cowboys, who sit at 3-3.

Now the Eagles shift their attention to the San Francisco 49ers, who are coming off of an embarrassing 40-10 loss to the Cowboys.

Before the Birds host the winless 49ers on Sunday afternoon, here's a roundup of where the Eagles landed in this week's national power rankings:

ProFootballTalk's Mike Florio: Up one spot to No. 1
Florio wrote, “Before they can be a Team of Density, they need to be sure that it’s not Carson Wentz‘s destiny to get injured while being reckless with his body.”

Last week, Florio expressed similar sentiments with Wentz and honestly, it is true. Yes, backup quarterback Nick Foles has had past success with the Eagles including a seven-touchdown game against the Raiders in 2013. But the fact of the matter is he isn’t Carson Wentz and there aren’t many like him in the entire NFL. As Wentz proved with his Houdini escape from what seemed to be a sure sack on Monday.

NFL.com's Elliot Harrison: Up one spot to No. 1
Harrison wrote, “There's a new No. 1, and it's not a familiar one. When was the last time the Eagles were the best team in pro football? Maybe in the first two months of the 2004 campaign.”

It is definitely an unfamiliar position for the Eagles because they are clearly the best team for the first time in a long time. The team owns the best record in the NFL, it has a commanding NFC East lead and hosts a winless 49ers team Sunday and then a reeling Broncos team. There is definitely a good chance for the Birds to enter their Week 10 bye at 8-1.

USA TODAY: Up one spot to No. 1
USA TODAY wrote, “Is Carson Wentz ready to follow Ben Roethlisberger, Russell Wilson as second-year starters to lead the franchise on Super Bowl magic carpet ride?”

The last time the Eagles reached the Super Bowl was in the 2004 season, a 24-21 defeat to the New England Patriots in Super Bowl XXXIX. That team included the likes of Donovan McNabb, Brian Westbrook, Terrell Owens, Tra Thomas, Jon Runyan, Jeremiah Trotter and Brian Dawkins. The team finished 13-3 and made the big game for the first time since the 1980 season. This team sure has the potential to get back to Super Sunday.

Yahoo! Sports' Frank Schwab: Up one spot to No. 1
Schwab wrote, “There should be as much excitement as possible about Carson Wentz, but the loss of left tackle Jason Peters is really tough. He’s going to be very hard to replace. Still, as the lone one-loss team remaining in the NFL, they deserve the top spot.”

Losing a future Hall of Famer in Peters for the season is a huge blow to the offensive line, but Wentz’s mobility helps in some senses. If he starts taking more hits and more sacks, there will definitely be a cause for concern.

CBS Sports' Pete Prisco: Up one spot to No. 1
Prisco wrote, “Carson Wentz has three straight games with at least three touchdown passes. The loss of left tackle Jason Peters with a leg injury will hurt in a big way.”

Wentz leads the NFL in touchdown passes with 17. His ability to deliver the ball down the field was evident on against the 'Skins with his 64-yard touchdown to Mack Hollins. No one on this team maybe other than Malcolm Jenkins is more valuable to the Birds than Wentz.

The Washington Post's Mark Maske: Down one spot to No. 2
Maske wrote, “QB Carson Wentz was terrific Monday night against the Redskins and is becoming very prominent in the race for the NFL’s MVP award. It wasn’t only his passing, it was his ability to escape the Washington pass rush and make something out of nothing.”

Last week, Maske had the guts to put the Birds at the top. This week, he moves them down a spot to No. 2 and I don’t understand it at all. The Eagles have the best record in the NFL and have won five consecutive games. He bumped them for a 5-2 Patriots team that beat up on a struggling Matt Ryan and the Falcons. Maybe Maske got cold feet but there isn’t any reason the Birds shouldn’t be No. 1.

ESPN: Stayed at No. 2
ESPN wrote, “Carson Wentz leads the NFL in passing touchdowns (17) and already has surpassed his TD total from last season (16). He also has led the Eagles to their best start since 2004 and has given them the best chance of winning the NFC East.”

Another interesting choice here. Just like Maske, ESPN places the Patriots ahead of the Eagles in its power rankings although the Birds have a better record. I think it is simple. The Patriots have proven they can get it done in the big moments and the Eagles haven’t.

Get ready to cry watching Julie and Zach Ertz

Get ready to cry watching Julie and Zach Ertz

Find yourself a love like Julie and Zach Ertz.

While Zach Ertz was having his best season on the gridiron, Julie Ertz, who changed her name from Julie Johnston after their March nuptials, was having an amazing season on the pitch. After a 5-1 victory over Denmark on Sunday night in which Julie scored in the 19th minute, U.S. soccer captured this incredible moment.

“Is he really going?” she said.

Oh, he’s going. The Eagles trounced the Vikings, 38-7, advancing to Super Bowl LII (see Roob's observations).

When Zach was shown this video in the locker room, he was overcome with emotion (watch the video above).

Oh, to be young, in love, scoring goals and touchdowns.

Eagles score high grades in NFC Championship Game

Eagles score high grades in NFC Championship Game

Grading the Eagles' 38-7 win Sunday night over the Minnesota Vikings at Lincoln Financial Field to advance to Super Bowl LII (see breakdown):

QUARTERBACK
Nick Foles: 26/33, 352 YDS, 3 TD

From the Eagles' opening snap, Foles looked sharp, picking up right where he left off last week. Yet, even the way he was slinging the football on those first few possessions, I doubt anybody envisioned this performance coming. Foles completed 78.8 percent of his passes, averaged 10.8 yards per attempt and connected on touchdown passes of 53, 41 and five yards — against the No. 1 defense in the NFL. He moved well in the pocket but stood tough when called upon to do so. Most importantly, no turnovers and just one sack. This was the finest moment of Foles' career, which is truly saying something for a guy who set multiple franchise and NFL records in 2013.

Grade: A+

RUNNING BACK
Jay Ajayi: 18 ATT, 73 YDS, 3 REC, 26 YDS

Though Ajayi got the bulk of the word, LeGarrette Blount had the play of the game. Blount would not be denied on his 11-yard touchdown in the first quarter, barreling over and through Vikings defenders on his way across the goal line. It was exactly the kind of hardnosed postseason mudding the Eagles envisioned when they signed the two-time Super Bowl champion, even if he only finished with 21 yards on six carries. Ajayi was having a mediocre game, but picked it up on the Eagles' final possession and did his part to help put Minnesota on ice.

Grade: A-

WIDE RECEIVERS
Alshon Jeffery: 5 REC, 85 YDS, 2 TD

Torrey Smith was seen apologizing to Foles after dropping what should've been a 50-yard pass on the Eagles' second play from scrimmage. Smith did a bit better than "I'm sorry" in the third quarter, making a tough 41-yard grab at the pylon to complete a 41-yard flea flicker. That wasn't even the longest play by a receiver, falling short of Jeffery's 53-yard score in the second quarter. The play fell apart, so Jeffery broke off his route and headed for the end zone. All told, Jeffery, Smith and Nelson Agholor combined for 13 receptions, 213 yards and three touchdowns. Flat out dominant against the league's No. 2 pass defense.

Grade: A+

TIGHT ENDS
Zach Ertz: 8 REC, 93 YDS

It became clear early the Vikings had no answer for Ertz. The Pro Bowl tight end hauled in all eight targets that came his way, leading the Eagles in both receptions and receiving yards. Brent Celek and Trey Burton weren't as productive with their opportunities, combining for one 12-yard catch on three targets, but no matter. Ertz was a monster.

Grade: A

OFFENSIVE LINE
Credit Jeffery for turning his route up the field and catching the ball (see Roob's observations). Credit Foles for hanging in the pocket and delivering a perfect pass. But make sure you credit the offensive line as well for giving Foles' 53-yard touchdown to Jeffery time to develop. That pretty much personified the unit's performance. The quarterback was only hit five times and sacked once. The Eagles weren't nearly as strong on the ground, averaging a modest 3.7 yards per carry. Regardless, the run blocking wasn't exactly ineffective, either, not to mention that really seems like nitpicking.

Grade: A

DEFENSIVE LINE
Chris Long: 2 TKL, 2 QBH, 2 PD, 1 FR

Long has been good all season, but it was as if he took a dip in the Fountain of Youth right before this game. The 10th-year veteran caused a momentum-altering interception with one of his two quarterback hits, then fell on the fumble forced by fellow defensive end Derek Barnett's strip sack, both plays in the first half. Fletcher Cox and Vinny Curry each got two pressures on the signal caller as well, as the D-line made throwing down the field next to impossible for the Vikings. Minnesota ball carriers averaged a respectable 3.9 yards per carry, but it wasn't enough to influence the game in any meaningful way.

Grade: A

LINEBACKERS
Mychal Kendricks: 8 TKL

Ugly start for this unit. The Vikings' offense went right down the field on the game's opening drive, largely at the expense of Najee Goode. Playing for the injured Dannell Ellerbe, Goode was torched for 25-yard touchdown pass amid some confusion, and generally looked in over his head. Goode was on the field less as the game progressed, while it seemed at times there were two of Kendricks, who led the team in tackles. After a quiet first half, Nigel Bradham picked up his play as well, finishing with four tackles. No major complaints are given the outcome.

Grade: B

DEFENSIVE BACKS
Ronald Darby: 7 TKL, 3 PD

Who knows the way this game may have transpired were it not for Patrick Robinson's interception return for a touchdown in the first quarter. Robinson took the woefully underthrown pass forced by Long, weaved across the field and outraced the Vikings' offense for a 50-yard score. Darby threw a key block on the return and later forced another turnover, one of his three pass breakups deflecting into the hands of Corey Graham. The Eagles' secondary was active and physical, as Minnesota completed just 58.3 percent of pass attempts for 5.6 yards per attempt.

Grade: A

SPECIAL TEAMS
Donnie Jones: 43.3 AVG, 3 IN20

Little of note from special teams. All three of Jones' punts pinned the Vikings' offense inside their own 20-yard line. Jake Elliott was perfect on one 38-yard field goal and five extra points, and all six kickoffs went for touchbacks. Kenjon Barner returned one punt for 10 yards. It was exactly what it needed to be.

Grade: B+

COACHING
Eagles' record: 15-3

Absolutely masterful job by the Eagles' coaching staff on both sides of the football. Doug Pederson's play-calling was brilliant from start to finish, keeping the Vikings' No. 1 defense completely off balance. Jim Schwartz's defense recovered after an opening march 75 yards on nine plays for paydirt — it was the last time Minnesota would score. This was the No. 2 seed in the NFC, a team with 14 wins, including playoffs and the Eagles, went right through them like it was nothing. Amazing job and an amazing season overall by Pederson and Schwartz.

Grade: A+