After the news that Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz would miss the rest of the season with a torn ACL, it had to be expected the team would take a dive in NFL power rankings across the country. After all, you don't lose the league's leading MVP candidate, one who just broke the 56-year-old franchise record for touchdown passes in a season (33), and not expect to miss a beat.
But surprisingly, the decline doesn't appear as bad as it could have been, indicating that national pundits remain optimistic about the Eagles' season, despite their having to depend on backup quarterback Nick Foles the rest of the way.
"I think he's good enough to be able to make a Super Bowl run," former Eagles wide receiver Cris Carter said of Foles on his FS1 show, First Things First, on Monday,
"I like Nick Foles and the Eagles more than I like Case Keenum [and the Vikings]," Carter said, pointing to Foles' experience starting in the playoffs under former coach Chip Kelly.
NFL Network analyst Elliot Harrison agreed, noting that Foles has enjoyed "darn-near historic success" as a starter and pointed out all the various backup quarterbacks (Tom Brady, Roger Staubach, Doug Williams, Jeff Hostetler, Kurt Warner, Trent Dilfer) who led their teams to Super Bowl titles.
One name that Eagles fans might remember is Jim Plunkett, who took over as the starter for the Raiders during the 1980 season after starter Dan Pastorini went down with a knee injury. Plunkett eventually led the Raiders to Super Bowl XV, where they ended up defeating Ron Jaworski and the Eagles, 27-10.
Here's how national outlets ranked the Eagles this week:
Washington Post (Eagles ranked #8 | Last week's rank: 4)
"It remains a very good team around the fill-in QB, Nick Foles. But you can't believe on one hand that Carson Wentz was the NFL's MVP and then believe on the other hand that his absence due to a torn ACL doesn't threaten to undo the Eagles' season. He was the MVP for a reason."
NBC Sports (Eagles ranked #4 | Last week's rank: 4)
"It's up to Nick Foles and/or Nate Sudfeld to keep them in the top three."
NFL.com (Eagles ranked #4 | Last week's rank: 2)
"There will be those who think the Eagles should move down further, with Nick Foles taking over at quarterback in the wake of Carson Wentz's season-ending injury. Those same folks should consider that Foles has enjoyed success — darn-near historic success — as a starter before. Teams have gone all the way with their backup before, too. Everyone knows about Tom Brady and the 2001 Patriots, but that's certainly not the only example. The '71 Cowboys started the season with Craig Morton … and ended it with Roger Staubach and a Lombardi Trophy. The next year, the perfect Dolphins went most of the regular season with Earl Morrall at quarterback. He started in the Divisional Round, as well, but not the Super Bowl. In 1980, the Raiders turned to journeyman Jim Plunkett after starter Dan Pastorini got hurt. They won it all — vanquishing Philadelphia on Super Bowl Sunday, as a matter of fact. Doug Williams became the Super Bowl XXII MVP in January of 1988, despite starting just two regular-season games during the '87 campaign. Then there were the 1990 Giants, who hoisted the hardware with Jeff Hostetler filling in for Phil Simms. How about Kurt Warner, who only got the opportunity to start on what would become "The Greatest Show on Turf" because Trent Green went down in the 1999 preseason. Not to mention Trent Dilfer, who won the Super Bowl the next year by riding the Ravens' defense. While the Eagles might no longer be favorites, they're far from out of it. This was a really long blurb. Free football."
CBS Sports (Eagles ranked #3 | Last week's rank: 3)
I will keep them here, even with the news of Carson Wentz going down for the season. But can they win with Nick Foles?
Bleacher Report (Eagles ranked #6 | Last week's rank: 2)
"It was disappointing to see the Eagles get run on the way they did. The Rams had their way on the ground, and that's something we haven't seen all year. Yet, Philadelphia was able to pull out a win because Carson Wentz was once again phenomenal.
It's a shame Wentz's fabulous season has come to an end. The Eagles aren't the same team without him.
Even without Wentz, though, this is a team with a strong enough ground attack and a good enough defense to make a run in the postseason—provided the offense can get a few big pass plays from Nick Foles.
I have a harder time believing the Eagles can win the Super Bowl without Wentz because he turns an average passing attack into a great one with his elite play. As I mentioned in the opening, though, this isn't a team I'd never count out."
Yahoo! Sports (Eagles ranked #3 | Last week's rank: 2)
"One of the NFL's big stories this offseason will be if Carson Wentz can make it back for the 2018 season opener. In comments to ESPN's Chris Mortensen, Dr. James Andrews warned that players need 9-12 months to return from ACL surgery. And the Eagles won't want to ruin Wentz by rushing him back, and everyone will cite Robert Griffin III rushing back from a torn ACL. It will be a tricky situation for the Eagles. (I had no idea where to rank the Eagles. You could have them No. 1 based on what they've done or move them way down because now you're dealing with a team that doesn't have its best player anymore. We'll have to see what they look like with Nick Foles. Nobody knows for sure.)"
USA Today (Eagles ranked #10 | Last week's rank: 5)
"Just how impressive is Carson Wentz? He played several snaps AFTER tearing his ACL, finishing his season with club record 33rd TD pass in 13th game."