The Eagles (10-1) are home to host the 49ers (8-3) in a rematch of the NFC Championship Game.
To the predictions:
Reuben Frank (9-2)
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The Eagles have allowed over 1,700 yards and over 100 points in a four-game span for only the sixth time in franchise history. And now they’re about to face an explosive 49ers offense that’s healthy, rested and flying high. The Niners are averaging over 32 points per game when they have George Kittle, Brandon Aiyuk, Deebo Samuel and Christian McCaffery all on the field. The Eagles are likely to be missing Fletcher Cox and Zach Cunningham, and while the Eagles have found ways to win all year and overcome their lack of consistency, I just think this challenge might be a little too much right now. If the Eagles were a little better taking the ball away, I’d have more confidence in their ability to slow the 49ers down. In the 49ers’ eight wins, Brock Purdy has thrown one interception. In their three losses, he’s thrown five. But the Eagles are 20th in the league in takeaways and the 49ers are 3rd-best protecting the ball. The 49ers are also second with 21 takeaways and the Eagles are middle of the pack (16th) protecting the ball. Those are really scary numbers.
The Eagles haven’t played a complete game in a long time. Sixty quality minutes. The last time they outscored a team in both the first and second half was Miami. The only game they played all year that wasn’t a one-possession game in the fourth quarter was Tampa. They’re good enough to beat almost anybody without playing a complete game. But not the 49ers. If they play one good half, they’ll lose. And I feel like their recent ups and downs on offense and inconsistency on defense are going to be too much to overcome this week. I still think the Eagles will ultimately earn the No. 1 seed in the NFC, but I’m giving the 49ers the nod this time.
49ers 31, Eagles 28
Dave Zangaro (8-3)
I learned my lesson when the Eagles beat the Chiefs a couple weeks ago. That was the week I took a shot on the other team and the Eagles found a way to win and then they found a way to win last week and I think they find a way to win again on Sunday. That’s just what this team does. Earlier this season, Jalen Hurts was talking about finding the identity of the 2023 Eagles and they’ve stumbled upon it: They just win. They always seem to find a way.
So when you’re looking at this matchup, I actually understand why the 49ers are favored. They’re healthy again and are loaded with star power on both sides of the football. On offense, slowing down Christian McCaffrey is the biggest key but if you do that there’s still Deebo Samuel and Brandon Aiyuk. And on defense, the 49ers have a really tough line and excellent linebackers.
But the Eagles are a star-studded team too, albeit one that hasn’t seemed to put together complete performances lately. Maybe this is the week living on the edge hurts them and they don’t get it done. But I expect an MVP performance from Hurts, I expect the Eagles defense to get after Brock Purdy and I expect them to win a close game at the Linc because that’s just what they do.
Eagles 27, 49ers 24
Mike Mulhern (10-1)
It’s apparently Super Bowl week in San Fran (the natives hate when you call their city that) and despite how in their feelings Deebo Samuel and his teammates are, no number of quarterbacks active on game day will change what happened back in January. Pot shots aside, the 49ers are a rested, healthy, loaded team playing at a very high level coming into the Linc with a massive chip on their shoulder. The Eagles just played a marathon in the driving rain and barely survived the Bills. They seem ripe to be knocked off and the point spread would indicate as much. All week I thought this would be the game I take the opposition, but as we inch closer to game time, I can’t pull the trigger.
The key will be containing Christian McCaffrey on the ground and forcing Brock Purdy into third and longs. Getting off the field in those exact situations has been the Eagles’ Achilles heel of late, but Purdy isn’t going to extend plays the way Dak Prescott, Patrick Mahomes, and Josh Allen have against them in recent weeks.
Despite their slow starts on offense, Jalen Hurts and company always seem to figure out just enough answers in just enough time to win. Their receivers have advantages on the outside and their offensive line should be able to lean on this 49ers front as the game goes on. Mix in a cowardly punt or two from Kyle Shanahan and the Eagles continue their run through “the gauntlet” unscathed.
Eagles 24, 49ers 23