The Philadelphia Eagles are now 6-1 in the 2017 NFL regular season after defeating the Washington Redskins by a final score of 34 to 24 (recap here). Five wins in a row! This team is red hot. Here’s a look at everything we learned from this game.
1 - Carson Wentz is currently the NFL MVP
Wentz was simply unreal on Monday night. Time after time the second-year quarterback makes you go: “How did he do that?!”
After getting off to a sluggish start (2/7 for 24 yards and a pick), Wentz finished the game on fire. He went 15/18 the rest of the way for four touchdowns and 244 yards. Wentz also led the Eagles in rushing with eight carries for 63 yards.
Wentz is the reason the Eagles won on Monday night. He’s a big reason why the Eagles currently have the best record in the NFL. If the season ended today, there should be no doubt that he is the league’s Most Valuable Player.
Wentz is also an awesome guy off the field, which makes it even easier to root for him.
Carson Wentz, 24, is youngest NFL QB to throw 17+ TDs & no more than 4 INTs in the first 7 games of the season since Dan Marino, 23, in 1984— Brandon Lee Gowton (@BrandonGowton) October 24, 2017
2 - The NFC East race is virtually over
Week 7 has only just ended but the battle for the division is pretty much done. Here’s an updated looking at the NFC East standings:
1 - Eagles: 6-1 | Conference: 5-0 | Division: 3-0
2 - Cowboys: 3-3 | Conference: 3-2 | Division: 1-0
3 - Washington: 3-3 | Conference 2-2 | Division: 0-2
4 - Giants: 1-6 | Conference: 0-5 | Division: 0-2
And here’s a look at the updated playoffs odds.
The Eagles have a big lead on the rest of the division.
Washington isn’t very much of a threat anymore considering Philly has a multiple-game lead plus a head-to-head tiebreaker over them.
The Cowboys are the only real team to be concerned about. Their schedule is a lot more difficult (on paper), however, than the Eagles’ schedule. Plus Ezekiel Elliott still might miss six games.
This Eagles season is approaching a point where the division isn’t even the primary focus. The No. 1 seed is the new goal.
3 - This win was very costly
It’s good the Eagles have such a big lead in the division because they suffered some real key losses on Monday night. Left tackle Jason Peters and linebacker Jordan Hicks are now out for the season.
It remains to be seen how the Eagles will replace these key starters. Peters was playing at such a high-level this season. Last week on our SportsRadio94WIP BGN Radio show, I said he was one of the biggest underrated reasons the team only has one loss. As for Hicks, well, I don’t think he was having the season people expected him to have this year, but he’s still a key contributor to the team.
These injuries certainly put a damper on the Eagles’ win. But they don’t necessarily mean the Eagles’ season is over. Look, virtually no NFL team is fully healthy right now. And to their credit, Philly has shown some great resiliency this season. Now they’re going to have to show a lot more the rest of the way.
The good news is that Wentz is playing at an extremely high level. And if he can sustain that pace, he can help the Eagles overcome their losses. That’s what elite quarterbacks do.
4 - Doug Pederson keeps building his case for Coach of the Year
With each passing win, it’s hard not to admit Pederson is a good coach. The Eagles got off to an ugly start in this game but they bounced back. Players are giving strong efforts on a weekly basis. The play-calling is great. The development of Wentz is obviously working out well. What’s not to like?
You can nit-pick some things, but honestly you can do that with any head coach. Pederson deserves credit for this team’s success.
Just look at these facts:
The Eagles have scored 20+ points in 11 consecutive games, which is the longest active streak in the NFL.— Brandon Lee Gowton (@BrandonGowton) October 24, 2017
The Eagles are tied with the Patriots for the most 20+ point games (20) in the NFL since the start of the 2016 season.— Brandon Lee Gowton (@BrandonGowton) October 24, 2017
The Eagles are the only NFL team to score 20+ points in every game in 2017.— Brandon Lee Gowton (@BrandonGowton) October 24, 2017
5 - Philadelphia’s run defense is impregnable
The Eagles are only allowing 67 rushing yards per game this season. That ranks first in the NFL. Philadelphia’s run defense is a real strength of this team.
Washington’s running backs combined for 54 yards on 14 carries against the Eagles. That’s an average of 3.86 yards per carry.
Jim Schwartz’s unit is doing a great job of forcing the Eagles’ opponents to be one-dimensional. From there, the Eagles’ pass rushers can tee off on the quarterback. Philly sacked Kirk Cousins four times, hit him an additional 10 times, and forced him to throw an interception. Brandon Graham is one who got the pressure on the Corey Graham pick.
Eagles opponents have run the ball only 123 times. That’s 2nd-fewest thru 7 games since 1952 (Saints 119 in 1991)!— Reuben Frank (@RoobNBCS) October 25, 2017
They're not even trying!
6 - Zach Ertz is having one heck of a season
Another game where Ertz leads the Eagles in receiving. He finished with five receptions for 89 yards and a touchdown on Monday night.
Ertz currently leads all tight ends in receptions, receiving yards, and touchdowns. He’s on pace to finish the season with 89 catches for 1,129 yards and 11 touchdowns. That’s elite production right there.
7 - Derek Barnett and Mack Hollins are pushing for more playing time
Pretty good game for Eagles rookies.
Derek Barnett made the most of his extra playing time and finished with a very productive stat-line: three solo tackles, three tackles for loss, two sacks, and two quarterback hits. Sure, Washington’s offensive line was banged up, and Barnett beat Jordan Reed on some of his pressures, but it’s still good production by the 21-year-old. He’s earning the right to eat into Vinny Curry’s playing time.
And speaking of eating into playing time, can we please get some more snaps for Mack Hollins? The guy has been crazy productive. In the six times he’s been targeted in 2017, Hollins has six receptions for 136 yards and a touchdown. I don’t expect Hollins to suddenly be used as a volume receiver; that’s not his role. But it’s clear he needs to be on the field more than the mere eight snaps he played against Washington.
While we’re on the topic of Eagles rookies, I also have to give credit to Corey Clement. That was a really nice play by him on his nine-yard touchdown reception.
8 - It’s time to cut Jake Elliott immediately
He finally missed a field goal. Time to cut him.
Just kidding. Elliott’s miss near the end of the game wasn’t very consequential anyway.
It’s a shame Peters isn’t around to tell him “No more misses!” though.
But seriously, don’t miss again, Jake.
9 - Malcolm Jenkins quietly had a key performance
Jenkins made a key tackle on 3rd-and-1 to force a Washington punt in the second quarter. On the very next drive, Wentz hit Hollins on that big play for a touchdown to tie the game. The Eagles never really looked back from there. Jenkins’ third-down stop ended up being big for Philly’s momentum in this game.
Jenkins finished the night with a team-high 10 tackles in addition to one sack, one tackle for loss, and one quarterback hit.
10 - The Eagles have a real opportunity to go 8-1
Look, I’m not saying there’s no chance the Eagles will lose their next two games. Any Given Sunday and all that jazz.
But the Eagles’ next two games do look pretty favorable. On paper, at least.
The 49ers are 0-7. They’ve kept some games close this year, yes, but that wasn’t the case this past week when the Cowboys blew them out 40 to 10.
The Eagles simply have a lot more talent than the 49ers do, especially at the most important position: quarterback. Wentz is certainly a lot more inspiring than rookie C.J. Beathard. It’s also always a challenge for West Coast teams to travel east for those 1:00 PM starts.
Philly opened as 10.5 point favorites over the 49ers this week. That line has already shifted to 14 points in some places. 7-1 is very much within reach as long as the Eagles don’t crap the bed.
As far as 8-1 goes, the Denver Broncos have scored a combined 10 points in their last two games. They most recently got shut out by the Chargers. Broncos fans are ready to bench starting quarterback Trevor Siemian.
Denver’s backup quarterback is Brock Osweiler, who is also terrible. So, yes, Siemian has been that bad.
These two games might not turn out to be walks in the park. At the very least, they look winnable and they present the Eagles with a big opportunity to go 8-1 heading into their Week 10 bye. Time for Philly to chase that No. 1 seed in the NFC.