Week 3 Preview: Philadelphia Eagles
Each week so far this season the Niners face a bigger challenge than the previous one. Last week the team was victorious over the St. Louis Rams, but things get tougher this week as San Francisco takes on the Philadelphia Eagles. The Eagles lost a heartbreaker last week, giving up a 17 point lead and allowing 23 points to the New York Giants in the fourth quarter and overtime to lose 30-24.
The timing for this game probably favors the 49ers, as starting left tackle Jonas Jennings should be back this week while the Eagles lost their best pass rusher in Jevon Kearse to an knee injury last week. Also out for the Eagles are starting cornerback Lito Sheppard and nickelback Roderick Hood. This leaves a very inexperienced Joselio Hanson starting at corner for the Eagles. I think this could be the key matchup for the Niners, as this may be the biggest weakness we can exploit in the Eagles vaunted defense. I expect to see Antonio Bryant matched up against the second year man Hanson.
The Eagles gave up only 86 yards on the ground last week to the Giants, however with New York playing from behind for three quarters, they only rushed the ball 26 times for a 3.31 yard average. I expect the Niners to be able run the ball more effectively than this, just as they have in both of their previous two games. I fully expect to see Frank Gore go over the 100 yard mark again this week, behind another strong game from our offensive line. I'd also like to point out once again how well the offensive line has played this year. They have lead the way for the running attack to average 4.6 yard per carry through two games, as well as allowing only one sack in 62 pass attempts. This type of play continuing will only help the young offensive stars of this team grow and become better quicker than most imagined.
On the other side of the ball, the Niners have their work cut out for them this week. The Eagles offense has gained 892 yards in 2 games, 237 yards on the ground and 655 through the air. The passing game worries me the most, as I'm still not sold on Walt Harris or Shawntae Spencer, even after a decent game last week. I'd like to see them contine that same play this week, but I'll admit a bit skeptical of it happening. If the front seven can continue to put pressure on the quarterback at the rate it has so far (9 sacks in 2 games)we'll hopefully see some rushed throws and possible turnovers. However, the Eagles also have provided strong pass protection so far this year only allowing 2 sacks. This could be the biggest matchup for the Niners defense, can they get consistent pressure on McNabb and keep the Eagles passing game out of a rythym? It remains to be seen.
My Prediction: 49ers 28 Eagles 24