The700Level

NFL power rankings roundup: Eagles continue to lead the pack

usa-eagles-bears-celebration-1.jpg
USA Today Images

NFL power rankings roundup: Eagles continue to lead the pack

The Eagles were back at the Linc last Sunday afternoon for a matchup against the Chicago Bears, whose defense has been quite underrated this season. 

That didn’t prevent tight end Zach Ertz from turning in a 10-catch performance to help the Birds handily defeat the Bears, 31-3.

The Eagles still hold the best record in the NFL and have a chance to clinch the NFC East this week with a win or a Dallas loss or tie to the Redskins on Thursday night.

Now the Eagles shift their attention to the Seattle Seahawks for a Sunday night matchup in the Pacific Northwest. 

Here’s a roundup of where the Eagles landed in this week's national power rankings after Week 12:

ProFootballTalk's Mike Florio: Stayed at No. 1
Florio wrote, “They’re making it look too easy. At some point, it won’t be.”

The Eagles have been on cruise control since losing to former coach Andy Reid and the Chiefs in Week 2. They have now reeled off nine straight victories and it doesn’t seem like they are ready to slow down. Florio might be hinting that the Eagles’ West Coast trip coming up against Seattle and Los Angeles to play the Seahawks and the Rams might be the real test for them at this point (see story).

NFL.com's Elliot Harrison: Stayed at No. 1
Harrison wrote, “The Eagles are rolling through the league right now — or electric sliding, if you happened to catch the late stages of their declawing of the Bears. Carson Wentz continues to be the talk of the league, but as my colleague Steve Mariucci pointed out this weekend, general manager Howie Roseman must be given credit for the depth he's acquired to bolster Doug Pederson's roster.”

The Eagles have been one of the most fun teams in the NFL this season (see story). The Birds have celebrated in many ways, whether it was hitting a home run or getting hit by a pitch. However, the choreographed Electric Slide after an interception by Corey Graham has to top the list. 

USA TODAY: Stayed at No. 1
USA TODAY wrote, “Peaking too soon? They've won past three games by 28 points apiece, which is why NFC East may be wrapped before three-game road trip starts Sunday.”

The Eagles could clinch the NFC East before even stepping on the field in Seattle. Something to consider here: In Week 17 last season, the Cowboys rested their key skill players in an effort to keep them fresh and healthy for the divisional round of the playoffs, a game they would lose to Green Bay. The Eagles might be in a similar situation coming down the stretch, which could be concerning. But with the Vikings, Saints, Panthers and Rams all within striking distance for a top-two seed and home-field advantage, the Eagles can't afford to step off the gas now.

Yahoo! Sports' Frank Schwab: Stayed at No. 1
Schwab wrote, “The Jay Ajayi trade looks peculiar three weeks into it. Ajayi has just 22 total touches in three games. He had just six touches on Sunday. It seems that rookie Corey Clement could have handled the role Ajayi has and it wouldn’t have cost the Eagles a draft pick.”

Ajayi seemed frustrated after the game against the Bears and you would be too if you fumbled at the goal line after breaking a long run (see story). He ended up with six total touches in Week 12 for a total of 33 yards. Ajayi has been the game-breaker for the Eagles in the run game, while LeGarrette Blount has been bulldozing defenses for short gains. Expect this running back by committee with Ajayi, Blount and Clement to continue.

CBS Sports' Pete Prisco: Stayed at No. 1
Prisco wrote, “They just keep right on rolling and Carson Wentz is getting better. They are the class of the NFC — by far.”

They are the class of the NFC without a doubt and the Patriots and Steelers are the same in the AFC. The Patriots and Steelers play in Week 15, so one of those teams will cement itself as the head of the conference after that matchup. There is a lot of football left, but the Eagles should be the class of the NFL right now, not just the NFC.

The Washington Post's Mark Maske: Stayed at No. 1
Maske wrote, “The Eagles’ last three wins have come by 28 points each. They haven’t had a single-digit margin of victory since a five-point triumph at Carolina on Oct. 12.”

The Eagles have been destroying every team in their path over the last 2½ months. They are the top-scoring offense in the league with an average of 32 points per game, two points better than any other team in the NFL. 

ESPN: Stayed at No. 1
ESPN wrote, “The Eagles have the best record in the NFL and are the most efficient team, according to FPI — and that's all thanks to balance. They've thrown for the most touchdowns, rushed for the most yards after contact, allowed the fewest rushing yards per game and allowed the second-fewest yards per pass attempt.”

This balance has been terrific for this offense and especially to take the pressure off of Wentz. Wentz’s ability to spread the football around only enhances the offensive prowess of this team. It also helps when the defense continues to dominate opponents (see story).

Eagles fans give MetLife Stadium a real fan experience

usa-doug-pederson-eagles-giants.jpg
USA Today Images

Eagles fans give MetLife Stadium a real fan experience

First, it was StubHub Center in Carson, California, on Oct. 1. Then it was the Los Angeles Coliseum last week.

This time, on Sunday, it was a turnpike drive to MetLife Stadium. 

Eagles fans travel — we know that. An Eagles game in North Jersey? It's nothing new, Eagles-Giants, no matter how big of a ghastly mess the New York football Giants are right now, will always attract plenty of Birds fans. But this is quite something.

Eagles fans on Sunday gave MetLife Stadium — which has been open for eight seasons now — a baptism of what real fan experience looks like, writes the New York Daily News' Gary Miles:

Thanks to the Eagles fans, we found out MetLife Stadium can actually be as loud as Giants Stadium used to be. This is the eighth year for the new stadium and it hasn't jumped like the old place.

It's hard to say more than 50% of the stadium were Eagles fans, but they seemed to account for 75% of the noise, even more down the stretch when they were chanting, "Defense, defense, defense," on the Giants last drive.

This was worse than late in the 1978 season when fans burned tickets, rented an airplane to fly over the stadium pleading for the end of bad football and hung Wellington Mara in effigy from the mezzanine.

The Eagles fans invaded and the only retribution was cops handcuffed a fan wearing an Eagles No. 11 jersey and escorting him through the bowels of the stadium after the game.

Well done, Eagles fans. Well done.

Grading the Eagles' 34-29 win over the Giants in Week 15

Grading the Eagles' 34-29 win over the Giants in Week 15

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — Grading the Eagles' 34-29 win Sunday afternoon over the New York Giants at the MetLife Stadium (see breakdown):

QUARTERBACK
Nick Foles: 24/38, 237 YDS, 4 TD

Foles was far from perfect, missing his share of open receivers. He also wasn't afraid to stand in the pocket and take a hit or push the ball downfield. Foles threw a touchdown pass on four of the Eagles' six trips inside the red zone. Perhaps most importantly, he avoided the negative plays, taking only one sack and finishing the game without a turnover. You can't ask for much more from a backup.

Grade: A

RUNNING BACKS
Jay Ajayi: 12 ATT, 49 YDS, 2 REC, 40 YDS

The Eagles went with a running back by committee approach in the first half to only middling results. In the second half, they turned the reins over to Ajayi, who quickly racked up the offense's long gains of the day — a 22-yard rush and a 32-yard reception. Not sensational production by any means, but at least there weren't any fumbles.

Grade: C+

WIDE RECEIVERS
Nelson Agholor: 9 TAR, 7 REC, 59 YDS, 1 TD

The performance of these receivers with the backup quarterback at the helm is deserving of some respect. Agholor led the team in receptions and receiving yards, and Alshon Jeffery added four receptions for 49 and a score. Torrey Smith drew a pass interference penalty to set up six for the Eagles as well. With or without Carson Wentz under center, this is still a dangerous bunch (see Roob's observations).

Grade: A-

TIGHT ENDS
Zach Ertz: 9 TAR, 6 REC, 56 YDS, 1 TD

Another week, another stellar game for Eagles tight ends. Ertz picked up right where he left off with a big day after missing the previous week, while Trey Burton tacked on two receptions for 15 yards and a score as well.

Grade: A

OFFENSIVE LINE
Chance Warmack: Started at left guard

Halapoulivaati Vaitai struggled with the speed of All-Pro defensive end Olivier Vernon off the edge, allowing four quarterback hits and a sack. Warmack had trouble keeping his feet and reaching his landmarks is the running game. Of course, you can only expect so much when the left side of the O-line consists of backups. Vaitai and Warmack were adequate, even very good at times, and settled in as the game went along to the point where protection was actually solid in the second half.

Grade: B+

DEFENSIVE LINE
Brandon Graham: 4 TKL, 2 TFL, 1.0 SK

The Giants rely on quick passes, negating the Eagles' pass rush to some extent, but the defense was able to generate some mild pressure. Vinny Curry had a sack erased by a penalty in the secondary, and Fletcher Cox got to the quarterback on a two-point conversion attempt. Otherwise, it was a quiet day up front, though the Giants were limited to 75 yards rushing on 3.3 yards per carry.

Grade: B

LINEBACKERS
Nigel Bradham: 11 TKL, 1 TFL, 2 PD

Both Bradham and Mychal Kendricks with nine tackles were extremely active, as the Giants worked the middle of the field hard with their power running game and short slants. Bradham had a chance to put the game on ice late in the fourth quarter but dropped what could've been an easy interception.

Grade: B

DEFENSIVE BACKS
Ronald Darby: 5 TKL, 3 PD, 1 INT

The secondary got off to a horrendous start, allowing 14th-year veteran Eli Manning to set a career high with 252 yards passing in the first half of a game. Darby's interception and 37-yard return while trailing 20-7 in the second quarter flipped the momentum a bit. The coverage was perfect, and Darby's run to the Giants' 20-yard line was even better. Manning went back to work in the second half, racking up 427 yards and three touchdowns. This was supposed to be the 31st-ranked passing offense in the NFL. Not good.

Grade: C-

SPECIAL TEAMS
Eagles: 3 blocked kicks

Derek Barnett blocked an extra point attempt in the first quarter, which turned out to be a huge play. Kamu Grugier-Hill followed up Darby's pick with a blocked punt on the following possession. Malcolm Jenkins blocked a field goal, too. And Jake Elliott was perfect on field goals and extra points. Yet, Najee Goode nearly undid all of it. Goode's totally unnecessary neutral zone infraction on a Giants punt in the third quarter extended a failed drive, eventually resulting in a touchdown. The rest of the unit bailed him out.

Grade: A-

COACHING
Eagles' record: 12-2

This was not Jim Schwartz's best work. The Eagles' defense seemed wholly unprepared for the exact same offense the Giants ran against them in Week 3 — the same offense they run every week. There's no reason for Manning to go over 400 yards. None. Some of the issues were the poor play on the part of the defensive backs, but the game plan was questionable as well.

Otherwise, great job by Doug Pederson to rally the troops after falling behind by 13 in the first half. It didn't look like the offense dialed anything back at all with Foles under center, which was the right call, too. When the team scores 34 with the backup quarterback, the coach is doing something right.

Grade: B-