Both the Panthers and the Eagles picked up wins on Sunday, but instead of taking a couple of days to enjoy their victories, they have just three days to prepare for their next matchup. This week, the NFC South leading Panthers welcome the NFC East leading Eagles to Bank of America Stadium for Thursday Night Football.
The Eagles' second-year quarterback made some history Sunday, becoming the franchise's first signal caller to toss three touchdown passes in the first quarter. Wentz is off to such a strong start, former Eagles quarterback Donovan McNabb recently praised him.
"He's an intelligent guy. He understands his capabilities. He knows the prize and what's in front of him. He works extremely hard. He's prepared for it," McNabb said.
Through five games, Wentz has thrown for just five fewer yards (1,362 yards) than Green Bay's Aaron Rodgers, and Wentz's 10 touchdowns are one fewer than New England's Tom Brady. Wentz is also protecting the ball better this season. As a rookie, Wentz struggled with fumbles and interceptions, but so far, he's thrown just three picks and lost only one fuble. Thanks in large part to their young quarterback, Philadelphia is winning games and looks like a legitmate playoff team.
Third down success
There's only one team in the NFL better than the Panthers on third down this season – the Eagles. Despite tallying the sixth-most attempts, Philadelphia has converted 53 percent of its third-down tries.
"It's not a point of emphasis. I think it's credit to our guys. I think we're one of the top offenses in not having three-and-outs which is very beneficial. We're staying on the field. And then our third-down conversion rate has been good and we've been able to stay on the field so all that is part of the time of possession," head coach Doug Pederson said.
Wentz deserves much of the credit for the Eagles' success on third down. He leads the league in completions, yards, yards per attempt, touchdowns, first downs and passer rating on third down.
"Situational football is huge, that's what separates the good teams," Wentz said. "Being effective on third down, staying on the field, it helps time of possession, it helps the defense, it's a big part of the game. They call it the money down, and to be that efficient on third down is huge."
Fourth quarter fades
Philadelphia's defense has been solid if not unspectacular, ranking 13th in points allowed. But 52 of the 99 points they've surrendered have come in the fourth quarter.
But something clicked against Arizona because Philadelphia allowed just seven points and kept the Cardinals off the scoreboard in the fourth quarter. If that was a turning point for the Eagles defense, they're only going to improve. All-Pro defensive tackle Fletcher Cox missed the past two games with a calf injury, and when he returns, the defense will receive a significant boost.
The Eagles picked up an important win against the Giants in Week 3, but in the process lost an important player. Running back Darren Sproles' season ended when he tore his ACL and suffered a broken foreman on a routine rush in the second quarter.
"It's a devastating loss with the punt return, the special teams aspect of it," Pederson following the injury.
It's difficult to replace a player like Sproles, but against the Cardinals, former Panther Kenyon Barner did his best. His 76-yard punt return was very Sproles-esque.
"I study Sproles, I study Devin Hester, guys like that," Barner said. "Usually if you can make that first guy miss, you can go a long way. Watching Sproles, being here with Sproles, it's very rare that that first guy is ever going to tackle Sproles. Very rare."
View the top photos from Panthers vs. Lions by team photographer Melissa Melvin-Rodriguez.