Last year at this time, the Philadelphia Eagles were sitting with a 4-2 record and right in the thick of the Nfc East race. After opening the season with three consecutive victories, new head coach Doug Pederson and his team dropped consecutive road games to the Detroit Lions and the Washington Redskins. Then the Birds pulled off a big home victory over the previously-undefeated Minnesota Vikings to run their record to 4-2. That’s not that much different from the team’s current 5-1 record, is it? Let us count the wins as the NFC East leaders come off a 28-23 win over the Carolina Panthers in Charlotte on Thursday Night Football.

From Wentz they came

After winning four of their first seven games last season, the Philadelphia Eagles finished with seven losses in their final 10 outings. What was interesting was the fact that their three victims were all playoff-bound teams (Atlanta Falcons, New York Giants and Dallas Cowboys) and all at home. After winning at Chicago on a Monday night in Week 2, the Birds dropped their final seven road outings to close 2016.

That’s already changed in a big way this season. On opening weekend, these Eagles won at Washington. A 30-17 triumph at FedExField snapped a five-game losing streak in this divisional rivalry. Yes, they lost at Arrowhead Stadium seven days later (who doesn’t) to a Kansas City Chiefs club that enters Week 6 with a perfect 5-0 record.

But Philly has also posted victories over the Los Angeles Chargers and Carolina Panthers – both on the road. So instead of a club that was on shaky ground after winning its first three games a year ago, Pederson has a team that appears to be gaining confidence.

Improved on both sides of the ball

When you get better play in the trenches and your second-year quarterback has taken the bull by the horns, good things are in store for your football team.

Roughly two weeks before the 2016 season began, the Philadelphia Eagles wound up trading their starting quarterback to the Vikings. Sam Bradford was sent to the Twin Cities and then-rookie Carson Wentz was pushed into the lineup after seeing limited time during training camp and the preseason. After a strong start, he finished 2016 with 16 TD passes and 17 turnovers (14 interceptions and 3 lost fumbles).

This year, during the club’s 5-1 start, Wentz has already connected for 13 scores while being picked off only three times.

The other big improvement area has been the play on the lines. The Eagles’ running game is much-improved with right tackle Lane Johnson on the field (although he missed the game vs. the Panthers). The offseason trade for defensive tackle Timmy Jernigan and the first-round selection of end Derek Barnett had made for a more formidable front. This is a very balanced club that may be capable of some big things as the season wears on.