The Philadelphia Eagles quietly turned in one of Sunday’s most impressive performances, thoroughly beating a quality New Orleans Saints team to the exciting, high-scoring tune of 40-29. Philadelphia jumped out to a commanding 14-point lead just minutes into the contest and was able to withstand a late 17-point surge by the Saints en route to securing the victory. Philadelphia's offense was in rare form throughout the game, as starting quarterback Jalen Hurts accounted for an astounding three touchdowns with his legs on a healthy 18 rushing attempts.
Winners in three of their last four contests, the Eagles now shockingly have the appearance of a team that is capable of competing for playoff positioning in the wildly unpredictable NFC.
Sunday's win was no flash-in-the-pan. It was quite the opposite. It accurately represented a surging football team that continues to take progressive steps forward on a weekly basis.
Head coach Nick Sirianni and offensive coordinator Shane Steichen have apparently found the magical recipe for a once-struggling offense. Philadelphia's newfound rushing attack has been at the core of its recent success. The Eagles rushed for a staggering 242 yards on the ground against a stout and physical Saints defense. Sunday's rushing performance was the continuation of an elite rushing attack that has found its footing in remarkable fashion as of late. Since Week 8, the Eagles have accumulated an average of 217 rushing yards per contest. Sirianni's Eagles are averaging 34.5 points per contest throughout that four-game sample size, topping the 40-point mark on two occasions. The numbers are truly stupefying.
Having a dual-threat quarterback certainly helps, but Hurts' rushing ability is just one piece of a multi-layered puzzle. Philadelphia is finding success running the ball by committee. The resurgent Jordan Howard has rushed for 274 yards while finding the end zone three times in four contests. Howard may miss time with an injury, but reinforcements should continue to champion this unit forward. Philadelphia just welcomed back their most talented ball-carrier, as Miles Sanders made a triumphant return to the field on Sunday. The former Penn State standout missed several contests while dealing with a variety of lower-body injuries, but managed to make a graceful return by totaling 94 crucial yards against the Saints.
For all their offensive prowess, things have progressed nicely on the defensive side of the ball as well. Defensive coordinator Jonathan Gannon has helped turn a feisty unit around that gave up 40-point games in back-to-back instances against the Dallas Cowboys and Kansas City Chiefs in late September and early October.
Turnovers have especially been present as of late. As we continue to use the last four weeks as our sample size, Philadelphia has forced an impressive five turnovers in that timeframe. They are doing an excellent job capitalizing on those opportunities. Three-time Pro Bowl cornerback Darius Slay has astoundingly scored three defensive touchdowns since Week 8, via two fumbles returned for scores and a pick-six. In addition to those five takeaways, the Eagles have forced another four fumbles that the opposition was fortunate to recover. Philadelphia's defense is living around the football right now, and they are doing an excellent job maximizing those occurrences by scoring points and getting their offense back on the field, and the turnover luck hasn't even entirely been on their side.
The Eagles may be 5-6, but they've put the rest of the league on notice with their recent eye-opening performances. It would be misguided to consider them legitimate Super Bowl contenders at this juncture, but they are a young, improving team that is potentially laying down an important foundation while establishing a winning culture. Soul searching and identity building are occurring in the City of Brotherly Love with great success. The Eagles may not hoist the Lombardi in February, but they are perfectly capable of spoiling somebody else's chances of doing so.