Get ready for the contrarian view. The Eagles might not be as good as their 6-1 record would suggest and maybe, just maybe, the 49ers have a chance to keep it close this Sunday in Philadelphia as a 14-point underdog?
Here’s the reasoning as fractured as it might seem.
First, the Eagles will be without left tackle Jason Peters after he tore knee ligaments in Philly’s Monday night win over Washington. Peters was more than just a highly-decorated player, he was the team’s identity, particularly in the run game.
Peters, in a league of behemoths, was an absolute bully. On one third-down play he slammed into Redskins defensive lineman Ziggy Hood, drove him 5 yards off the ball and then buried him. It allowed for an easy first-down run.
The Eagles and their run game will no longer have their bully and the 49ers could take advantage.
Philly is allowing an average of 67 rushing yards per game, best in the NFL. However, they don’t allow many yards because teams only rush 28 percent of the time against them, mainly because Philly often captures the early lead. Also, the Eagles could be vulnerable to the run without middle linebacker Jordan Hicks.
Hicks’ replacement, special teams player Joe Walker, looked utterly lost at times against the Redskins. The
49ers would be smart to try and keep Walker on the field.
If the Eagles struggle at all against the run, it’s with the outside zone runs, with a big back handling
the ball. The 49ers run the outside zone, and Carlos Hyde is a bigger back.
Also, is the Eagles’ collection of cornerbacks really that good? The team starts Patrick Robinson, who is a veteran on his fourth team. They also start a seventh-round pick from last year, Jalen Mills, at left cornerback and substitute in a third-round rookie, Rasul Douglas, at times.
If the 49ers can create some time for C.J. Beathard, the Eagles could be vulnerable on the back end.
Then there’s the complacency factor. The Eagles are expected to roll the 49ers out like a new driveway. Philly is also coming off a short week and the rainy weather could limit the effectiveness of second-year quarterback sensation, Carson Wentz.
So that’s the contrarian view and now you can go back to your regularly scheduled life.