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Midseason report: Philadelphia Eagles

PHILADELPHIA -- The Philadelphia Eagles are halfway through a season of great promise, and at 6-2, their record reflects that fact. Here's a look at the Eagles at the halfway point:

Midseason MVP: Darren Sproles. The little running back made the play that shook the Eagles awake from their opening day doldrums against the Jacksonville Jaguars, and several other key plays.

Sproles' 49-yard touchdown run against the Jaguars kick-started the Eagles' comeback in that game. In Indianapolis the next week, Sproles' 51-yard pickup on a screen pass from Nick Foles set up the game-tying touchdown.

The Eagles knew they would be without big-play wide receiver DeSean Jackson this season. They believed that Jeremy Maclin could replace Jackson at receiver. But they also needed a home run hitter, a guy who could turn a loss into a win with one play. Sproles has provided that element, most notably in the first two games of the season.

Maclin made a late charge at the honor with four touchdowns in the past two weeks, but Sproles' impact has been undeniable.

Biggest disappointment: Every time the Eagles' 2013 season was discussed -- whether it was LeSean McCoy leading the NFL in rushing or Foles' remarkable breakout season -- it was duly noted that all five offensive linemen played all 17 games, including the wild-card playoff. It was also noted how rare that was.

In the 2014 season opener, the Eagles lost Pro Bowl guard Evan Mathis (knee) and right tackle Allen Barbre (high ankle sprain). Two weeks later, center Jason Kelce went down with a sports hernia.

McCoy took six weeks to break 100 yards rushing in a game. Foles has been prone to bad decisions and turnovers without the security of a good pocket. The linemen are slowly getting healthy and returning to the lineup, which should help in the second half.

Best moment: It was darkened by the season-ending knee injury that Giants wide receiver Victor Cruz suffered on the play, but the incomplete fourth-down pass thrown by Eli Manning ended New York's best chance to score against the Eagles. Instead, the Eagles held on for a 27-0 win.

Not only was it a dominant victory against a divisional rival, which would have made it a highlight, but it was a shutout. The Eagles had not shut out an opponent for 18 years, since blanking the Giants in 1996. That means that all the years Andy Reid coached here, including those with legendary defensive coordinator Jim Johnson, were shutout-free.

The shutout was the high point of a game in which McCoy (149 yards) finally got going in the running game and the Eagles posted a significant division win on national television.

Worst moment: As the ball thrown by Carson Palmer dropped into rookie John Brown's hands, it was instantly clear what had happened. A defense that played solidly all game had been beaten for a 74-yard touchdown. A game in which the Eagles had come back to take a three-point lead in the fourth quarter now belonged to the Arizona Cardinals.

Instead of a 6-1 record, a shot at sole possession of first place in the NFC East (which would have become reality when Dallas lost to Washington the next day) and a tiebreaker edge on the NFC West-leading Cardinals, the Eagles were 5-2, behind the Cardinals and Cowboys.

Foles had three shots at the end zone to win the game, but the worst moment was the one when Brown caught that pass. That was the moment that turned it.

Key to the second half: When the second half of the season begins against the Carolina Panthers on Monday night, the Eagles could have their real starting offensive line intact for the first time this season. That is the most important development for this team, but the key is restoring the rest of the offensive elements to their previous quality.

That means either Foles, who injured his shoulder Sunday in Houston, or Mark Sanchez must get back to taking care of the football and throwing touchdowns instead of interceptions. And it means McCoy must again trust his running lanes and attack them the way he did last season. It also means that coach Chip Kelly feels as confident calling plays as he did before injuries so limited his offensive line.