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November 23, 2017

What they're saying: Wentz leads Pro Bowl voting – and why the Eagles should be thankful

Eagles NFL

Happy Thanksgiving, Eagles fans. Your football team is 9-1; they have a four-game lead in the division, one that can grow on Thursday while you stuff your face with turkey and cranberries and, well, stuffing; and you have a couple more days to relax before the Birds host the Bears in their last home game before three-straight NFC road games.

Needless to say, there's plenty to be thankful for in the City of Brotherly Love.

And since the Eagles aren't playing today, let's take a look at what they're saying about the Birds:

Carson flying high

Zach Berman | The Philadelphia Inquirer

On Wednesday, we gave you a sneak peek of Carson Wentz on the cover of ESPN The Magazine and Hallie Grossman's story about what the Eagles QB has meant to the city so far this season. 

As it turns out, he's impressed much more than just the local fan base. Currently, Wentz leads all players in Pro Bowl voting (and, yes, we realize it's early). That being said, Eagles fans don't want to see Wentz actually playing in the Pro Bowl – that means the Eagles didn't make it to the Super Bowl.

The NFL released its Pro Bowl voting results, and Carson Wentz leads the NFL with 273,367 votes. Tom Brady is second with 239,989 votes. Zach Ertz leads all tight ends with 156,183 votes. The rosters will be announced on December 19. The Pro Bowl is January 28 in Orlando.  []

Roob (always) knows

Reuben Frank | NBC Sports Philadelphia

As always, Roob's stats are incredible. He has an entire section dedicated to Wentz, but here's a look at two of them.

• Wentz is the sixth quarterback in NFL history to open a season with 10 straight games with a passer rating of 83.0 or higher. The other five are Manning, Brady, Rodgers, Carson Palmer and Philip Rivers.

• Wentz is only the fourth quarterback in NFL history with 25 or more touchdowns and five or fewer interceptions 10 games into a season. The others are Brady, Rodgers and Y.A. Tittle.  []

... and Bears! Oh, my!

Aaron Kasinitz | PennLive

It seems like no one's really talking about the fact that the Eagles have a game on Sunday. Perhaps that's because they're playing the lowly Bears – not every week can be Dallas Week. Aaron Kasinitz took a look at some players who could be a difference-makers this week, starting with the defensive tackle who isn't reportedly being sued for being a home wrecker.

DT Tim Jernigan: If the Bears have a clear strength, it’s their running game. Chicago’s one-two punch of Howard and shifty rookie Tarik Cohen coming out of the backfield is dangerous, and the Birds will need to get a push up front to negate the duo’s effectiveness. That’s where Jernigan comes in. Two-time Pro Bowl defensive tackle Fletcher Cox routinely knifes into the backfield, and if Jernigan can raise his level of play next to Cox, he’ll knock the Bears’ offense out of its rhythm.  []

Alshon's guarantee

Brad Biggs | Chicago Tribune

Alshon Jeffery made a bold prediction after last season, one that is strangely coming closer and closer to being realized with each passing week. Chicago doesn't seem to be very amused... 

Standing at his Halas Hall locker last January a day after the Bears finished 3-13, their worst record since the NFL expanded to a 16-game season in 1978, Alshon Jeffery boldly announced, “I guarantee you we’ll win the Super Bowl next year.” ... 

As Jeffery said Wednesday in a conference call with Chicago media, he never specified which team was going to hoist the Lombardi Trophy after Super Bowl LII.

Ha. Ha... 

What’s wild is the one-year contract for Jeffery fell into the laps of the Eagles. He couldn’t generate the kind of money he was seeking for a long-term deal during the 48-hour legal tampering period leading into free agency. His agent, Tory Dandy, called the Eagles and said Jeffery knew people there. Was the team interested in his client? Jeffery played for Eagles wide receivers coach Mike Groh for three of his five seasons with the Bears, and the two developed a strong bond.  []

The 'What If' Game

Gary Myers | New York Daily News

Apparently, some in New York think the only difference between the 9-1 Eagles and the 2-8 Giants is Jake Elliott's game-winning field goal in Week 3.

Maybe if the Eagles had lost that game, after blowing a 14-point lead over a team that could not score until the fourth quarter, their fans would have turned on them. Maybe if the Eagles started 1-2, the rumors about second-year coach Doug Pederson being in trouble would have escalated as well as the whispers that defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz was poised to mount a hostile takeover. Dissension could have taken up residence in South Philly rather than North Jersey.

Instead, the Eagles went to Los Angeles the following week to play the Chargers and the StubHub Center was overrun by transplanted Philly fans singing, “Fly, Eagles Fly.” After the first 10 games of the season, the Eagles are the best team in the NFL.  []

Reason to be thankful?

Eliot Shorr-Parks |

Eliot lists a bunch of reasons, but it's hard to argue with the play of the Eagles secondary... 

As executive vice president of football operations Howie Roseman celebrates Thanksgiving, the top thing he should be thankful for is the surprisingly solid play of his young cornerbacks. 

The unit projected to be a major issue for the Eagles this season, and things seemed even bleaker when No. 1 cornerback Ronald Darby went down with an ankle injury in Week 1. 

Instead, young cornerbacks like Rasul Dogulas and Jalen Mills stepped up and gave the team stellar play in Darby's absence, and have been a big part of the reason the Eagles' defense is seventh in the NFL in points allowed at just 18.8 per game.  []

Or reason for concern?

Steven Cook | Bleacher Report

Over at B/R, they took a look at a few of the biggest obstacles standing between the Birds and trip to Minneapolis in February. One of the potential obstacles that jumped off the page was concern over the cornerbacks regressing. With Darby back – and who knows if Sidney Jones may be too – it's hard to see them suddenly taking a big step back.

Philly's secondary has been stout when tested this season, but the role the Eagles' dominant pass rush has played in that can't be ignored. The front seven has taken over games, making the jobs of the Eagles corners exponentially easier.

The Eagles secondary had their worst performances in games against the Los Angeles Chargers and New York Giants that featured quick-hitting passes to keep the pass rush at bay. Playoff-hopeful teams like New Orleans and Atlanta are more than capable of playing that way, and that should keep Eagles fans cautious about their secondary's ability to perform when under the microscope.  []

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