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NEW YORK (AP) — The Eagles are looking for a Green Repeat.
Led by Nick Foles , the Philadelphia Eagles won their first Super Bowl last season with a 41-33 victory over the New England Patriots.
Foles took over last season when Carson Wentz tore the ACL and LCL in his left knee. Wentz is not expected to be ready when the Eagles begin defense of their title on Sept. 6 by hosting the Atlanta Falcons to open the NFL’s regular season.
The Patriots are the most recent team to win consecutive championships, winning Super Bowls 38 and 39.
And the Eagles will start their quest as the top team in the first AP Pro 32 poll of the 2018 season.
The Eagles received six of the 12 first-place votes and 367 points in balloting by media members who regularly cover the NFL.
The Patriots, who have been to eight Super Bowls in the Tom Brady and Bill Belichick era, were a close second — just as they were in the loss to the Eagles in Minneapolis. The Patriots received three first-place votes and finished with 366 points.
“As long as the Killer B’s, Brady and Belichick, reside in Foxborough, the Pats will loom as the team to beat,” said Ira Kaufman of SB Nation Radio.
The Minnesota Vikings, who lost to the Eagles in the NFC championship game, are No. 3. The Vikings added quarterback Kirk Cousins in the offseason to a team with high expectations.
“Is Kirk Cousins the answer? That’s the only question about this team,” Pro Football Talk’s Charean Williams said.
The Los Angeles Rams, who won the NFC West last season , earned two first-place votes and are No. 4.
“(Brandin) Cooks dynamite in new offense,” Fox Sports’ John Czarnecki said of the speedy wide receiver who had 1,082 yards last season in New England.
The Pittsburgh Steelers, who have won three of the past four AFC North titles, are No. 5.
Drew Brees and the Saints received the other first-place vote and will start the season at No. 6.
“My projected Super Bowl winner leads this list,” said Alex Marvez of The Sporting News. “Tom Benson would have loved the Super Bowl 53 post party.”
The Jacksonville Jaguars, who were in position to reach the Super Bowl until blowing a fourth-quarter lead at New England in the AFC title game, are No. 7.
The Jaguars will start the season short-handed after they lost receiver Marqise Lee for the season with a knee injury. He was hurt in a preseason game against the Falcons, who are No. 8 in the poll.
The Packers, who slumped to a 7-9 season after Aaron Rodgers broke his collarbone, will begin at No. 9.
And L.A.’s other team, the Chargers , round out the top 10.
At the bottom of the poll, the Colts will start at No. 30 despite the return of franchise QB Andrew Luck.
The Browns, who have lost 31 of 32 games in the past two seasons, are fittingly No. 31. The Browns will have a tough opener as they host the Steelers.
And the Jets, who could start rookie Sam Darnold at QB, will begin in last place at No. 32.
“The future may be bright with Sam Darnold, but the present looks brutal,” Marvez said.
Indianapolis Colts general manager Chris Ballard promised to be smart in free agency.
He declined to be swayed by splashy moves and refused to overspend – on his players or anyone else’s.
Now Ballard is diving head first into the second wave of free agency. After signing tight end Eric Ebron on Monday, he added receiver Ryan Grant and offensive lineman Matt Slauson on Tuesday.
”I’m going to bring myself and everything that comes with me which is energy, fun, excitement and a will to win,” Ebron said on a conference call Monday night. ”Everything after that , you guys are going to have to see for yourself because I’ve learned a lesson not to talk about anything before it happens.”
Ballard is sticking to his game plan.
He has repeatedly said he intends to build through the draft, develop players in-house and merely supplement the Colts’ roster in free agency.
Even though he went into the offseason with more than $70 million to spend, he’s remained frugal. has reported that Ebron’s deal is for two years and up to $15 million. Slauson signed a one-year deal worth $3 million, and Grant agreed to a one-year deal worth $5 million after initially joining Baltimore – the Ravens cut him loose after he failed a physical. Grant injured his ankle in Week 17 and has been working his way back. He was surprised by the Ravens’ decision.
”I can’t control what they did. I can’t control their assessment of my ankle,” Grant said during a conference call. ”I’ve gone other places, I’ve seen multiple doctors and I’ve passed physicals, so that should pretty much speak for itself.”
The only other player Indianapolis has signed is defensive lineman Denico Autry, who signed a three-year deal worth $17.8 million.
All four fill needs, though.
Autry recorded a career-high five sacks with the Oakland Raiders last season and could help new defensive coordinator Matt Eberflus create a more consistent pass rush. The Colts finished 31st in the NFL last year with 25 sacks.
Grant spent his first four seasons with the Washington Redskins and is expected to compete with Chester Rogers for the starting job opposite Pro Bowler T.Y. Hilton following Donte Moncrief’s departure. The 6-foot, 204-pound Grant produced his best season in 2017 – 45 receptions, 573 yards and four TDs.
Slauson has started 108 games since entering the league with the New York Jets in 2009. He was in Chicago when Ballard was working with the Bears, and Slauson played for new Colts offensive line coach Dave DeGuglielmo with both the Jets and Chargers.
Ebron , the Detroit Lions’ first-round pick in 2014, was released last week after developing a reputation for dropping passes. In Indianapolis, he’ll have a chance to jump-start his career playing alongside Jack Doyle, who appeared in his first Pro Bowl last season, and Erik Swoope, a converted basketball player who climbed into the No. 2 spot on the Colts’ depth chart.
The happiest guy might be Andrew Luck, who gets two new receivers and a potential upgrade along the line, which has been a major hole since Luck entered the league as the top overall pick in the 2012 draft.
Slauson has played both guard and center and is willing to do either with his new team.
Ballard’s biggest offseason move was the trade he pulled off Saturday.
He swapped first-round picks with the Jets, giving up the No. 3 overall pick to get the No. 6 pick and two additional second-round picks this year and the Jets’ second-round pick in 2019. That deal gives Indianapolis four picks in the top 50 this year and three picks in the first two rounds next year.
”We need to add some young talent to this roster,” Ballard told the team’s web site following the trade. ”So the ability to tab seven guys in the next two years who are all first and second round picks over the next two years was attractive to us.”

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