Week 10 is over, which means we're more than halfway through the 2023 NFL season. And one team stands above them all: the reigning NFC champion Eagles. Other contenders like the Chiefs and Lions aren't far behind, and in fact Kansas City will have a chance to unseat Philadelphia in Week 11's anticipated Super Bowl rematch on Monday night. But for now, the Birds are setting the standard at 8-1, with eyes on claiming their conference's top playoff seed for a second consecutive year.
Even so, Eagles fans would be the first to admit that 2023 hasn't been perfect. The Cowboys took Philly to the wire before the Eagles' Week 10 bye, and six of the team's nine games have been one-score decisions. So where are the Eagles truly fearsome, and where might they be vulnerable down the stretch? Let's rank all their position groups by strength:
Note: An asterisk denotes an injured player.
If Goedert were healthy, this would be much higher on the list, as he's a top-five pass outlet at the position. But for the second year in a row, he's due to miss extended time due to injury, leaving only deep reserves to fill in. Stoll is chiefly used as a blocker, and it's probable the Eagles will turn instead to their backs and receivers to fill the void left by Goedert's absence. If/when he returns for an expected playoff run, he'll surely revert to being Jalen Hurts' No. 3 target through the air.
General manager Howie Roseman likes to make splashes, but the one area he's consistently deprioritized is linebacker, preferring instead to let the trenches and secondary carry the defense. Dean has been so-so in four career starts, but he's sidelined with his second injury of the year. Cunningham and Morrow are tried-and-true tackle machines, but they've frequently been targeted in the pass game over the middle.
Blankenship has been a pleasant surprise, going from undrafted reserve to rangy, instinctive starter since 2022, but he's battled multiple injuries already. Byard has an All-Pro resume as a ballhawk arriving via trade from the Titans, but he's still adapting to the new scenery. Brown and Evans, meanwhile, are feisty, physical players who've struggled to stay on the field thus far.
The top two names here are well-respected. At full speed, they remain Pro Bowl-caliber cover men. But both Slay, 32, and Bradberry, 30, have been dinged up, and the latter has been victimized on several deep balls, suggesting Slay is now the steadier of the two. It's really the depth behind them (or lack thereof) that poses an issue. With Maddox out for the year, Ricks and Jobe are still finding their footing as undrafted NFL youngsters.
Swift has mostly been dynamite in his Eagles debut, on pace to shatter his career rushing marks with a burst unmatched by his fellow backs, though the staff has been somewhat hesitant to feed him in key situations. Gainwell, on the other hand, gets some critical touches as a multipurpose man but lacks a home-run pop. And Scott and Penny, the latter of whom could be utilized as a late-year bulldozer, have yet to see much action this season.
Mann is only a few games into his Eagles debut, replacing the jettisoned Arryn Siposs, but Elliott has consistently been one of the NFL's most reliable kickers since arriving in 2017; his field goal percentage this year (90%) ranks in the top 10, and he's 5 of 6 on tries from beyond 50 yards. Covey, meanwhile, has quietly made a big leap as the return man, averaging 14 yards per runback -- the third-best mark of any punt returner in 2023.
This is where the Eagles' strengths really become apparent; it's almost impossible to separate the final five groups. Brown has a case for Offensive Player of the Year, rivaling even Dolphins speedster Tyreek Hill thanks to his superhuman blend of size, strength and downfield reliability. Smith frequently shows up when it matters most, thriving as a route-runner and sideline specialist. The only question marks come after that dynamic duo, where Jones has a Hall of Fame resume but is better-suited for situational snaps at 34 and Zaccheaus has occasionally flashed as a chain-mover.
This might be the unit opposing teams are least interested in facing. Carter is a Defensive Rookie of the Year front-runner with four sacks and seven QB hits in eight ultra-physical showings. Cox has found new life after a couple quieter years on the interior. And Davis' massive size (6-6, 336) has been a catalyst for a run defense that easily ranks No. 1 in the NFL going into the winter.
This is obviously a top-heavy room; if either Mariota or McKee is pressed into extensive action, the Eagles aren't going to be nearly as threatening. But that speaks to Hurts' MVP-caliber presence. Ball security has been a much bigger issue for No. 1 since his 2022 breakout, but he remains almost undeniable as a situational runner, not to mention when airing it out to his favorite target, A.J. Brown. Best of all, Hurts' unfazed persona sets the tone on a weekly basis; he never panics, regardless of the moment, and that rubs off on the staff and supporting cast around him.
They are inextricably linked to the ferocious D-line, but a year after leading the NFL in sacks, the Eagles' pass rushers might be even better. Reddick is the king of clutch sacks as the stand-up rusher, racking up 27 QB takedowns in 29 games for the Birds, including playoffs. Sweat is just as steady with his hand in the dirt, with 39 resounding QB hits since the start of 2022. And while Graham and Smith are just situational relief at this point, both have flashed with timely pressures of their own.
The Eagles have dedicated more resources to the trenches than any other position, and it shows. Their last two trips to the Super Bowl -- in 2017, then 2022 -- have been fueled primarily by stellar movement up front, and Kelce and Johnson have been the steadiest road-graders. Both are on Hall of Fame trajectories, and while Johnson is often battling through injuries at right tackle, both remain ultra-athletic into their 30s. Even when interior starters have had to shuffle in and out due to their own injuries, revered OL coach Jeff Stoutland has gotten the most out of the fill-ins.