It looks like the Eagles are starting off the season right where they left off — on top.
Despite a less-than-inspiring preseason and a cautious recovery process that will keep quarterback Carson Wentz off the field, the Super Bowl champions enter their Week 1 match-up against the Atlanta Falcons on top of most NFL experts' power lists (which are just as meaningless as the preseason, but fun to debate over). Nearly all experts remain high on the Eagles, including CBS Sports analyst Tony Romo, who enters his second season in the booth after his psychic-like ability to predict plays took the league by storm last year.
"I think the Eagles are outstanding," Romo told the Inquirer and Daily News. "They have a fantastic defense, and man, [defensive coordinator] Jim Schwartz is going to have them playing good ball."
It's certainly not going to be easy for the reigning champs. In addition to injuries that have sidelined Wentz and wide receivers Alshon Jeffery and Mack Hollins, the Eagles come into the season facing one of the toughest schedules in the league. As the Washington Post's stat guru Neil Greenberg points out, the Eagles face that seventh-most-difficult set of opponents this season, according to Vegas oddsmakers.
Despite all that, most outlets still placed the Eagles among the top three teams in power rankings. One notable exception was Bleacher Report, which at one time had the Eagles No. 1 in preseason rankings but dropped them down to No. 5 to start the season. But despite the low ranking, NFL analyst Brent Sobleski still thinks the Eagles will be fine.
"The NFC is absolutely loaded, yet the Eagles remain among the league's best due to the team's overall depth, especially at quarterback," Sobleski wrote. "Even with the uncertainty surrounding Carson Wentz's recovery and Nick Foles' inconsistent preseason play, the champs still have more than enough talent to be considered elite."
Here's how the national outlets rank the Eagles entering the season:
ESPN (Eagles rank No. 1)
"The Eagles believe they have the elixir to prevent a Super Bowl hangover: motivation from within… Success in the quest to repeat will depend on the health of Wentz, who continues to work his way back from a knee injury. Can he recapture his MVP form? Luckily, the Eagles are blessed with a loaded 53-man roster and arguably have the best backup in the league in Super Bowl MVP Nick Foles." – Tim McManus
NFL Network (Eagles rank No. 1)
"Sure, there have been a few departures. Leggie Blount is gone. Patrick Robinson, he of the biggest interception of the Eagles' postseason, is back with the Saints in New Orleans… Yet, Philadelphia is strong enough to repeat. The Eagles own a better chance to get back on top than any team outside of the Patriots over the last 17 years. The players still seem hungry. Doug Pederson doesn't have one foot out the door — in fact, at this point, both feet are decidedly on the right side of the threshold. And unlike most organizations, this franchise has two quarterbacks who can play."
Sports Illustrated (Eagles rank No. 2)
"I picked the Eagles because I think Carson Wentz will play at an MVP level again this season, and I like the pieces they added on defense like Michael Bennett and Sidney Jones (a 2017 second-round corner who was rehabbing a torn ligament last year). I don't see any reason why the Eagles can't win again, other than no team has repeated in over a decade." – Greg Bishop
Bleacher Report (Eagles rank No. 5)
"This ranking will likely anger fans of the defending champions… The Eagles have some issues. Carson Wentz still hasn't been cleared for contact, much less to play in a game. Wide receiver Alshon Jeffery remains sidelined by a shoulder injury. And Nick Foles banged up his shoulder in the preseason and hasn't looked right since."
CBS Sports (Eagles rank No. 5)
"The roster is full of talent, but there is still some concern about Carson Wentz and his knee. It doesn't look like it will be a problem for the long term, but it's still worrisome."
Washington Post (Eagles rank No. 3)
"[The Eagles] have one of the tougher schedules this season… Foles was instrumental in securing the Eagles' first Super Bowl championship yet still must be considered a downgrade from Wentz. Based on its 2017 regular season performance, the team could be expected to win almost 79 percent of its games with Wentz under center, per ESPN's Total Quarterback Rating, but just 31 percent of its matchups with Foles throwing passes."
Yahoo! Sports (Eagles rank No. 4)
"Maybe Doug Pederson's testy news conference in which he said he wouldn't announce his Week 1 quarterback was some reverse psychology before the season opener. I wouldn't put it past him. He's a sharp guy and he knows what he's doing. However, here's what it looked like on the surface: A coach frustrated by things other than someone reporting that Nick Foles would start Week 1. Everyone assumed Foles would start. It wasn't a big deal. Between Peterson's brief standoff with the local media, and the news item that the Eagles would remove a Super Bowl champions sign in their locker room, it seems possible there are signs of a Super Bowl hangover already."
USA Today (Eagles rank No. 1)