The Eagles are soaring but to what heights?

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The Eagles are soaring but to what heights?

Postby aliciahuang » Wed Nov 22, 2017 5:13 am

It’s been apparent for several weeks now that the Philadelphia Eagles are among the favorites to represent the NFC in the Super Bowl. On a weekend when Philly rolled the defending NFC East champs and the Los Angeles Rams stumbled in Minnesota, the Eagles’ case for being the team to beat became that much stronger.

One New York Daily News writer Monday published a column instructing fans to come to grips with the reality that the Eagles are Super Bowl-bound. That’s at least somewhat intentionally provocative fodder to spur clicks, but it’s not far off from the consensus view.

With an NFL-best 9-1 record, have been by multiple scores, but they’re building steam as the season goes on. Three of their first five wins came in one-score games. Their last four wins, it’s easy to see on paper why fans feel that way. Not only does the Eagles’ full 2017 body of work look impressive, however, with the last three holding a victory margin of at least three touchdowns.

except it would be hard to say Wentz isn’t deserving of all the plaudits. Whereas his play last year was promising for a rookie and showed flashes of greatness,Carson Wentz gets the preponderance of the attention and accolades for the quick turnaround, that comes with the territory, as the Eagles have already exceeded their seven wins in 2016. Being the starting quarterback, he’s now putting up numbers to rival any passer in the league. He leads the NFL in touchdown passes and is fifth in passer rating among quarterbacks who have started more than one game.

as the team brought in Alshon Jeffery and Torrey Smith over the offseason. Nelson Agholor has also come to life,What has enabled Wentz to make such a dramatic jump is the stellar play he’s gotten from the Philadelphia offensive line in pass protection. Pro Football Focus ranks Philly’s line as top in the league in pass blocking efficiency. A big upgrade in the receiving corps certainly helps, looking more like the first-round talent he was after two years of struggles in which he was defined by frustrating drops.

Even amid the front-running, though, but Philly came out flat in the first half, there are small signs that they are capable of dealing with adversity. You couldn’t tell it from the final score of Sunday night’s win over Dallas, couldn’t convert on third down early and trailed at halftime. By the time the game was over, the Eagles poured on the points and forced Dak Prescott into having the worst game of his young career.

he registered two sacks and forced a fumble.,That Philly defense is starting to get the credit it deserves as well. The Eagles boast the top-ranked run defense, keyed by a dominant defensive front that gets pressure without elaborate blitzes, even if defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz is also a fan of those. Rookie defensive end Derek Barnett looks like a star in the making and improves with each week. Against Dallas

the secondary is rounding into shape. Patrick Robinson is improving into a breakout cornerback. Fellow corner Ronald Darby returned this week from a dislocated ankle suffered in Week 1,Beyond that, got an interception and held Dez Bryant in check to the tune of 63 yards.

Six weeks remain in the regular season, even if Ajayi’s ability to catch passes out of the backfield isn’t quite on par with what Sproles provides, middle linebacker Jordan Hicks and running back Darren Sproles. However, the line remains bullying without Peters,Authentic Tyreek Hill Jersey, though they have lost left tackle Jason Peters, plenty of time for devastating injuries to befall a team. Philly has been relatively fortunate on that front, who has made a point of providing scouting tips and advice while recuperating. A trade for Jay Ajayi made Sproles’s absence less pronounced, and the defense has held up just fine with Nigel Bradham and Mychal Kendricks holding down the fort.

With a four-game lead in the NFC East, they follow that up with three consecutive road games, and while their Week 12 opponent,Authentic Justin Houston Jersey, Chicago, a few stumbles could knock them out of first-round bye territory, it would take a catastrophic undoing for the Eagles not to win the division. The picture after that is less clear. They hold only a one-game lead over the Saints and Vikings and two over the Rams and Seahawks. As impressive as they’ve been, should be a safe victory, the first two at the Rams and Seahawks.

All this has to be familiar to Philly fans. The Eagles started the 2004 season 9-1 en route to the franchise’s second Super Bowl appearance. They fell just short against Tom Brady’s Patriots. If they do end up making it to Minnesota to play for the championship again this season, if the Eagles are going to capture their first championship of the Super Bowl era,Authentic Marcus Peters Jersey, the Chiefs handed Philly their only loss of the season to date, the Pats have to be the presumptive opponent at this point. Sure, but Kansas City has been lagging over the past five weeks. Besides, wouldn’t it be that much sweeter against the franchise that already denied them once?

Rams machine needs some repairs after 24-7 loss at Minnesota

The Los Angeles Rams arrived in Minnesota with the NFL's highest-scoring offense, a machine averaging 33 points per game and making the team the talk of the league with this sharp turnaround under new coach Sean McVay.

Their four-game winning streak was tossed aside by a determined Vikings defense in a 24-7 defeat on Sunday in this matchup of NFC division leaders.

the only tangible production by the Rams was extra punting practice for Johnny Hekker. The Rams totaled just 254 yards,After a 75-yard touchdown drive to start the game,Authentic Travis Kelce Jersey, with 54 yards coming from on a garbage-time possession at the end of the game against mostly Vikings backups.

025 passing yards and nine touchdowns with only one interception.,"We can play a lot better than we performed," said Jared Goff, who had guided the Rams to a 144-41 scoring advantage during the streak with 1

The Vikings started the second half by forcing four punts in a row by the Rams (7-3), who also led the league entering the week with a third-down conversion rate of 46.7 percent. They moved the chains just three times in 11 opportunities against the Vikings.

who declared his team "humbled" by the Vikings throughout the course of the afternoon at daunting U.S. Bank Stadium.,"They had some good tight coverage. They had some disguises, some different things that disrupted our timing and our rhythm," said McVay

Goff often had to walk back and forth to tell his wide receivers the plays before the snap to keep McVay's fast-paced,Womens Chris Jones Jersey,With the crowd noise reverberating off the translucent roof to give the defense, an even greater advantage, which ranked fifth in the NFL in both points and yards allowed, no-huddle scheme going.

Goff finished 23 for 37 for 225 yards and no turnovers, taking only one sack.

but the unpredictable pressure the Vikings sent at him from all position levels added up over time and clearly took the second-year quarterback out of his element. Hekker was forced to punt six times,He didn't force any dangerous throws or take any huge hits, the second-highest total of the season.

"It'll be good to see what this adversity will do for our team," Goff said. "We responded to every bit of adversity we faced so far and expect no different."

before Vikings safety Anthony Harris stripped the ball out and recovered the fumble with 4:03 left before halftime.,The defense was stout in the first half, forcing punts by the Vikings on two of four possessions, and the Rams were in position to take a one-touchdown lead late in the second quarter. Rookie wide receiver Cooper Kupp caught a pass over the middle on third-and-4 from the 11-yard line and reached the 1

"That's seven points coming off the board there. You never know what happens if they go up 14-7," Vikings safety Harrison Smith said.

as the Rams found out,What has made the Vikings defense so difficult to play against this season, is the improvement in stopping the run.

but the Vikings have been just as tough this year when the ball stays on the ground. After Todd Gurley capped the opening possession with a short touchdown run,Rushing the passer and solid coverage in the secondary have long been hallmarks of coach Mike Zimmer's scheme, the NFL's fifth-leading rusher had only 17 yards on 11 carries the rest of the game.

"this is the atmosphere you're going to have to learn how to play and win in.","If you want to play after the regular season, if you want to play late in the year in big games," Rams left tackle Andrew Whitworth said

won’t be on the field for at least two playoff-determining late-season games.,Robert Woods, the Rams’ top receiver, fierce run blocker and all-around offensive security blanket

Woods suffered an injury to his left shoulder late in Sunday’s loss to Minnesota, hopefully, he will need to miss time. In his Monday press conference at Cal Lutheran, and while he avoided surgery, Coach Sean McVay said “the optimistic approach is, a couple weeks.”

but that’s what it is right now.”,,Authentic Spencer Ware Jersey“He has done a lot of great things,” McVay said of Woods. “That’s an opportunity for some other guys to step up, and I know he will take care of himself and hopefully we will get him back sooner than later

a contest that figures to be an offensive shootout,That means Woods will miss Sunday’s game against New Orleans, and the following week’s game at Arizona.

he totaled 252 yards and two touchdowns.,Woods leads the Rams this season in receptions (47) and pass targets (70), and his 703 receiving yards are more than 200 more than any other Rams player. Woods also is tied for the team high with four touchdowns and, in his last two games

when he caught a 15-yard pass and was tackled by Vikings safety Harrison Smith,McVay said Woods got hurt during the Rams’ final drive of the fourth quarter Sunday, who fell on Woods.

“What he represents, down the field. That’s a significant loss for us, he contributes (a lot),” McVay said. “He has played like a complete receiver. Underneath, just from the way he goes about his business, week in and week out, intermediate, but there are guys we have confidence in to step in and feel that void.”

First on that list, touchdown threat. Watkins is tied with Woods with four touchdowns, is Sammy Watkins, presumably, who was acquired in an August trade with the idea that he would be a field-stretching, but Watkins has made only 24 catches in 10 games and ranks fourth on the Rams with 408 yards.

the Rams’ second-leading receiver,Rookie Cooper Kupp, and lesser-used receivers such as Pharoh Cooper,Womens Tyreek Hill Jersey,Womens Travis Kelce Jersey, also could take on bigger roles, Mike Thomas and rookie Josh Reynolds, but much attention also will turn to veteran Tavon Austin, whose role with the Rams has diminished greatly this season.

Austin, the Rams’ highest-paid player and, at one point,Womens Justin Houston Jersey, their top offensive target, participated in two of the Rams’ 59 offensive plays against Minnesota and did not touch the ball on either play. McVay said he wasn’t immediately sure whether Austin would return to the role of a more conventional receiver.

“That’s something we’ll discuss,” McVay said. “It’s something that could be by committee, with the depth we do have, finding ways to get Tavon more involved — which, I’ve got to do a better job with that — and then Josh and Mike and Pharoh. I think it will require a by-committee approach.”

It’s been a slow,Womens Marcus Peters Jersey,steady descent for Austin, who signed a four-year, $42-million contract extension 15 months ago. He lost his role as a regular receiver and basically became a backup to running back Todd Gurley. Then he lost his punt-returning duties.

Sunday’s game marked a nadir for Austin. His previous low was seven plays in the season opener. Austin has only seven receptions this season, and 36 carries for 171 yards.

“Bottom line,” McVay said. “You can sit here and make excuses that we didn’t have enough snaps and things like that, Tavon is too dynamic of a playmaker for our offense to not try to get him more involved than (Sunday),Womens Spencer Ware Jersey, but it’s on me, and I’ve got to do a better job of getting a feel for the flow of the game and finding a way to get him involved, especially when that was part of our plan.”

This could be something of a last chance for Austin. After this season, including bonuses, the Rams could cut him and retain a salary-cap hit of only $5 million. This season, Austin is making more than $14.9 million (or $936,000-plus per game), which accounts for nine percent of the Rams’ salary-cap total.

McVay said starting cornerback Kayvon Webster is in the NFL’s concussion protocol and that starting nickelback Nickell Robey-Coleman is still dealing with the thigh injury that took him out of Sunday’s game.

“It seemed like (Webster) was in good shape (Monday),” McVay said, “so taking steps in the right direction. Nickell, we’ll monitor him as the week progresses.”

who missed Sunday’s game with a hamstring injury,Cornerback Troy Hill, is expected to return to practice Wednesday, and that’s good news given that on Sunday, McVay said, the Rams face New Orleans and quarterback Drew Brees, who passed for 385 yards Sunday against Washington.

” McVay said of his cornerback depth,“That definitely is a concern, “especially when you look at the top offense that we’re getting ready to play this week. The thing that’s so impressive is, over the last handful of years, they’ve consistently, thrown the ball as well as anybody, and now they’re able to run it as well.”

The Rams scored a season-low seven points against the Vikings and no longer are the NFL’s highest-scoring team. They now average 30.3 points per game,Authentic Chris Jones Jersey, behind Philadelphia’s 32.0.

The Rams also were shut out in the final three quarters, which only happened twice last season, when they had the lowest-scoring offense in the NFL. The Rams were shut out in their 2016 season opener against San Francisco, then failed to score after the first quarter on Oct. 23 against the Giants.

It also was McVay’s lowest-scoring game as a play-caller. McVay filled that role as Washington’s offensive coordinator in 2015 and 2016 and never put up fewer than 10 points (that happened three times).
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