After handling two inferior opponents in the Browns and Bears, the Eagles' Week 3 matchup with the Super Bowl-hopeful Steelers was viewed as a barometer to gauge just how good Carson Wentz and Co. really were.
Despite their 34-3 shellacking of the Steelers, no one came rushing to label the Eagles as the team to beat in the NFC nor as legitimate Super Bowl contenders less than a quarter of the way through the season, and understandably so.
But as the Eagles go on their Week 4 bye, the national media has begun to buy stock in the Birds as a playoff team following their 3-0 start, a far cry from the bottom-five team many projected them to be in 2016.
Here's what they're saying about the Eagles during their bye week:
Many in the national media expected the Eagles to flop in 2016, but since the start of the season the Birds have experienced a rapid rise in power rankings.
ESPN: No. 7
CBS Sports: No. 5
FOX Sports: No. 5
NFL.com: No. 6
USA Today: No. 4
Carson Wentz for ... MVP?
Through the first three games of his NFL career Carson Wentz has been nothing short of stellar. The rookie quarterback has posted a 64.7 completion percentage, five touchdowns and a 103.8 passer rating, all while throwing zero interceptions.
Is it safe to say Wentz is the early leader in the clubhouse for Offensive Rookie of the Year? Sure. How about for league MVP? It may sound crazy, but Jeff Dooley of The Washington Post would tab Wentz as the Most Valuable Player through three weeks for being the league’s best quarterback thus far.
"Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz is off to the best three-game start that Pro Football Focus has ever recorded from a rookie QB in 11 seasons of grading players,” Dooley wrote. “His 90.5 grade (on a 0-100 scale) is not only better than the three-game starts of each of the star rookies from 2012’s renowned QB class (Indianapolis’ Andrew Luck, Washington’s Robert Griffin III and Seattle’s Russell Wilson, all of whom led their teams to the playoffs in Year 1, and by season’s end ranked among PFF’s top 15 quarterback grades), but it is the top mark among all QBs so far for the 2016 NFL season.”
Show the defense some love too
Enough Carson Wentz talk, how about this Eagles defense?
Jim Schwartz’s unit paces the NFL in total points allowed (27), is third in total sacks (10), fourth in yards per game (274.3) and seventh in total turnovers (eight).
Under the tutelage of Schwartz this defense has come a very long way since last season, when opposing offenses torched the Eagles for an average of 26.9 points on 400-plus yards per game.
According to Kevin Patra of NFL.com, that improved defense is so important because it’s going to keep the Eagles alive in games when Wentz is having a rough outing.
"With Fletcher Cox making an early case for consideration behind Von Miller in the Defensive Player of the Year discussion, Brandon Graham in a defense better suited to his talents and a playmaking safety duo in Malcolm Jenkins and Rodney McLeod, the Eagles defense is soaring,” Patra wrote. “Through three games it's the prefect mesh of talent and scheme. If Wentz ever stumbles this season, the Eagles' D will be there to help prop up the rookie and get through a rough outing or three."
The Eagles had the longest odds (plus-600) by a wide margin to come out of the NFC East before the season began. Now, they’re the favorites (2/1) to capture the division crown as they sit alone atop the NFC East.
There's still a lot of football left to be played, including all six division games, but the Birds simply reaching the playoffs for the first time since 2013 with a rookie quarterback and first-year head coach would be an impressive feat.
According to Peter King of Sports Illustrated the Eagles' ceiling is even higher than just a division title and a playoff berth.
"It shouldn’t be happening this fast for the Eagles, coming up from 7-9 with a rookie head coach and a rookie quarterback from North Dakota State and a defense that needed a new leader," King wrote. "But it is, and there’s nothing fluky about it. The Eagles are legitimate deep-into-January contenders right now."