About 150 miles northeast of Detroit, there’s a casino in Mount Pleasant, Mich. known as Soaring Eagle. But if you’re really interested in wagering on some soaring Eagles action this weekend, you don’t need to drive that far.
A trip to Ford Field will suffice.
Last season when the Philadelphia Eagles arrived at Ford Field, things couldn’t have been bleaker. A 45-14 drubbing at the hands of the Lions saw Detroit quarterback Matthew Stafford light up the Philadelphia’s secondary for five touchdown passes.
Fast forward to this season, and as the Eagles return to Ford Field, here they are, soaring.
The Eagles, coming off their bye week, lead the NFC East at 3-0 and are one of three remaining unbeaten teams in the NFL. They are off to a fast start, which is exactly the gameplan new head coach Doug Pederson set out to implement when he took over the team this season.
“I think it goes back to my messaging with the team back in the spring,” Pederson explained. “Starting from day one we’ve got to learn to finish football games, we’ve got to learn to play fast, start fast, the way I structured training camp.”
The news is good everywhere you look when it comes to the Eagles.
They are solid offensively, averaging 369.6 yards in a league that is gaining 353.9 yards per game. Much of that production stems from conservative play calling built around rookie quarterback Carson Wentz, one of a number of young QBs who are setting the NFL on fire.
“What you’re seeing is you’re not putting everything on these young quarterbacks to go win the football game,” Pederson said. “They’re doing it with good defense, they’re doing it with good special teams and they’re not turning the ball over. If you can do that in this league, it gives you just a better chance to win football games.
“With Carson, that’s what he’s been able to do.”
Wentz is only 26th in passing yardage (769) but his game is all about efficiency. He’s completed five TD passes and has yet to throw an interception, leading to an eighth-best passer rating of 103.8.
No wonder people are beginning to refer to it as the state of Wentz-ylvania.
“I’ll be honest, there was probably some doubt those first couple of weeks in the locker room, but it was also a quick turnaround,” Pederson said of the decision to go with Wentz. “When he prepares and performs the way he does, he was able to capture that locker room and guys really rallied around him.”
It helps that the Eagles average nearly 120 yards per game on the ground. They have scored the second-most points per game in the NFL (30.7) and allowed the fewest (9.0). Their third-ranked defense (247.3 yards per game) is helping the team win the turnover battle, picking off three passes and recovering three fumbles so far.
“I don’t put a lot of stock or weight into either, whether it be time of possession or points,” Pederson said. “I just feel like if we just do our jobs that those things are going to take care of themselves and I think the same on defense.
“If they just do their job then they can hold teams down.”
For all of these reasons – not to mention Detroit’s 1-3 start – the smart money’s on the Eagles this week. The line for this game, which opened at Philadelphia minus-one, has jumped to Philadelphia minus-three.
The Eagles are 4-1 straight up and against the spread in their last five games and show identical numbers in their last five on the road. They’ve also gone over in four of their last five road games.