By Maximillian C. Burgos | Staff Writer
The Eagles are No. 2 in the League according to NFL.com’s power rankings. The Panthers have are No. 5 according to the same source. Both teams are 4-1 and looking to build on a strong start to the season.
The Eagles started last season 4-2, sparking talks about a possible playoff run and an overall hopeful vibe for the season. The Eagles subsequently fell apart, going 3-7 to end the 2016 season.
The Eagles do look better this year than they did last year, competing with all the teams they have played including the undefeated Kansas City Chiefs. Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz has also had a much better start to the this year than he did last year.
Wentz has thrown for 1,364 yards, 16 touchdowns and only three interceptions. He has also helped out the Eagles on the ground with 108 yards.
The Eagles ground game is also a lot better this years than it was last year. LeGarrette Blount has been god-sent for the Eagles with his bruising running style. He has rushed for 323 yards and a touchdown on the season, but he has averaged 5.8 yards a carry, well above the League average.
Running back Wendell Smallwood has also been a good compliment to Blount in the backfield rushing for 113 yards and a touchdown, but does not have the same average yards per attempt.
The Eagles do have some weapons in the passing game as well. Tight end Zach Ertz has caught 32 passes for 382 yards and two touchdowns. Wide receivers Alshon Jeffery, Nelson Agholor and Torrey Smith all have more than 200 yards receiving. Agholor has caught three touchdowns, Smith caught four touchdowns and Jeffery has one.
The Panthers have been competitive this year. The Panthers have struggled at times on both sides of the ball, but have been able to win games in the fourth quarter.
They upset the New England Patriots in week four and beat a tough Lions team in week five. According to ESPN.com the Panthers have a 55.9 percent chance of winning the game.
Compared to the Eagles, the Panthers are at a slight disadvantage offensively. Cam Newton has turned the ball over more than Wentz, Jonathan Stewart has not produced the same as Blount, and Ertz has more catches, yards and touchdowns than Kelvin Benjamin.
On the offensive side of the ball tight end Ed Dickson has recently been a factor in the passing game for the Panthers. Christian McCaffrey is threat anywhere on the field for the Panthers as well. Wide receiver Devin Funchess is also a deep threat for the Panthers. He is also has more catches and touchdowns than Kelvin Benjamin.
The game will inevitably come down to the defense. The Panthers do have a better overall defense than the Eagles. Middle linebacker Luke Kuechly continues to anchor the defense for the Panthers. He has 42 total tackles on the year with an interception and a forced fumble.
The Panthers are favored coming into the game, since they are at home and have a better overall defense. But, their only loss this season was at home and the Eagles are a threat to score from any where on the field. It should be a good game to watch.