Who’s Picking the Eagles?
Here’s a roundup of national media predictions for Sunday’s Eagles-49ers game.
NFL.com has two of five analysts taking the Birds.
Elliot Harrison of NFL.com predicts an Eagles’ victory:
Eagles 30, 49ers 22
Oh, how I wanted to pick the 49ers; this just seems like the kind of game San Francisco will rally to win. And yet, until I see someone stop Philadelphia’s offense, well, no can do.
This is simply a bad matchup for the Niners’ secondary, which struggled in the second half last week against the Drew Stanton-led Cardinals and didn’t fare much better against the Bears the week before. The key to San Francisco’s Week 1 victory — the team’s only win thus far — was an ability to force turnovers (four total that day). Since then, the 49ers have one takeaway. Not that it’s all kittens and rainbows for the Eagles, either; their defense has struggled mightily. Getting LeSean McCoy — who was completely stifled by the Washington front seven last week — going in San Francisco to take some time off the clock would help with that matter.
Kevin Patra of NFL.com puts together the Week 4 Viewer’s Guide with a game preview and pre-game reading material:
Let’s just keep it simple and focus on the quarterbacks. Nick Foles has thrown for 300-plus yards in each game this season (most in NFL). He faces a 49ers defense that has not allowed a 300-yard passer this season. Can Chip Kelly-ball overcome a home defense seething at the moment?
Colin Kaepernick will be under greater pressure. The signal caller is putting up solid numbers outside of the turnover-carnival in Week 2. This week the quarterback faces an advantageous defense to change the narrative. Philly is allowing 386 total yards per game and 280.3 passing yards a game (30th). We’d still like to see the 49ers get back to the ground attack, but this stacks up as a game in which Kap can get well.
Only five of the 13 ESPN.com experts are picking the Eagles.
Pete Prisco of CBSSports.com believes the Birds’ offensive production will finally hit a wall against the 49ers defense:
49ers 28, Eagles 20
This is one of the have-to games for the 49ers. They can’t go to 1-3. They get a break facing an Eagles team that is really banged up on the offensive line. The Eagles defense isn’t great, either. The 49ers get back on track.
Only two of the eight analysts at CBSSports.com are picking Philadelphia.
The writers at USA Today have another grim outlook for the Eagles with five of seven picking San Francisco.
SB Nation has two of seven analysts picking the Birds:
The Eagles had to overcome double-digit deficits to win each of their first three games (becoming the first team in NFL history to achieve that feat) and the Cardinals won in Weeks 2 and 3 with backup quarterback Drew Stanton (who had not won a game as a starter since 2010). Okay, so maybe a 3-0 start by the defending AFC North champion Bengals isn’t that surprising.
Both the Bengals and Cardinals have a bye this week, so the Eagles are the only team that has a chance to become the league’s first four-win team this season. That might not be such a challenge against a 1-2 San Francisco 49ers team that has been outscored 52-3 in the second half, although five of our seven experts think San Francisco at home can hand Philly its first loss of the season
FoxSports.com has only one of six writers picking the Eagles.
Both Frank Schwab and Eric Adelson of Yahoo Sports are going against the Birds.
Don Banks of SI.com predicts an Eagles loss:
49ers 29, Eagles 26
It sounds alarmist, but if the free-falling 49ers don’t find a way to beat the undefeated Eagles this week, the season could unravel in a hurry in San Francisco. The 49ers aren’t recognizable so far in 2014, with their league-worst 36 penalties for 303 yards, and being outscored 52-3 in the second half of games. The 49ers have blown significant second-half leads against Chicago and Arizona the past two weeks and here comes a Philadelphia team that has owned the second half, producing almost 25 points per game after halftime. The resilience and discipline San Francisco has been known for under coach Jim Harbaugh has gone glaringly absent, and that’s why the 49ers will be desperately trying to stave off the first three-game losing streak of his four-year tenure. I expect that desperation to produce results this week, and it’s going to get ugly if things go otherwise.
Both writers at Pro Football Talk are going with the 49ers in a tight game:
MDS’s take: At some point the Eagles’ slow starts will catch up with them, and I think that point will be on Sunday in San Francisco, where the 49ers are desperate for a win.
MDS’s pick: 49ers 27, Eagles 21.
Florio’s take: A team that plays really well in the second half visits a team that doesn’t. Unless the 49ers race to a huge lead early, the Eagles could be in position to eventually wear the Niners down — and send them to 0-2 in their swanky new home. Interesting as it would be to see the ensuing meltdown if the Niners fall to 1-3, it’s hard to imagine Jim Harbaugh not finding a way to get a win over his former Pac-10/12/Whatever rival, Chip Kelly.
Florio’s pick: 49ers 28, Eagles 27.
Pete Schrager of FoxSports.com picks San Francisco:
49ers 31, Eagles 26
Jim Harbaugh and Chip Kelly squared off twice as college coaches. Harbaugh’s Stanford team knocked off Kelly’s Oregon Ducks 51-42 in November 2009. A year later, Kelly got the last laugh, with a 52-31 blowout. I’d say this is the rubber match, but with different players, staffs, and circumstances — this is about more than the two head coaches. I’m concerned about the 49ers. I know Candlestick Park wasn’t the most luxurious spot and maybe not ideal for a big Silicon Valley tech merger discussion, but it was hard to win there as a visiting team. The new stadium has great WiFi and several electrical outlets to charge your smartphone. I’m sure the food is delicious and you can check Twitter and Facebook from your seat. But I’m not convinced it is the toughest place for a road team to win in. That said, I think the 49ers find a way. 1-3 is a real hole for them to be in. They know it. They’ll find a way.
Matt Cassidy is a journalism student at Temple and an intern at Birds 24/7.