Eagles

Eagles-49ers predictions by our (cough) experts

Eagles-49ers predictions by our (cough) experts

Is there any chance the Eagles lose this one?

Well, the weather is not looking pretty and the opponent is better than its record indicates.

Still, the Eagles are an NFL-best 6-1 and at home, welcoming the 0-7 San Francisco 49ers on Sunday (1 p.m./FOX).

Let's get into our expert predictions for Week 8:

Reuben Frank (7-0)
Last time the Eagles were favored by this many points, Joe Webb came to town. And we all know the rest of the story. There are no locks in the NFL, and it's up to this Eagles team to do what that 2010 team failed to do against the Vikings on a freezing Tuesday night at the Linc — choke off an inferior team, take away its hope and make sure it's not still in the game midway through the third quarter. 

The Eagles should annihilate this 49ers team, and I think they will. This is an extremely focused team, and things like trap games, winless opponents and huge point spreads don't seem to affect them. 

I expect the Eagles to jump out on top early and ride another exceptional game from Carson Wentz and a big rushing performance from LeGarrette Blount, Wendell Smallwood and Corey Clement to blow out a winless 49ers team that wants no part of a 6-1 Eagles team playing at 10 a.m. their time after a five-hour flight. 

The Eagles haven't scored 40 in a while. Not since a 43-24 win over the Titans at the Linc in 2014. They do Monday. 

And bring on the Broncos!

Eagles 40, 49ers 6

Dave Zangaro (5-2)
Earlier this week, I began to wonder what percentage of Eagles on the roster could name the 49ers' quarterback. 

I never actually got an answer to that question but the fact I could ask it and really wonder kind of tells you all you need to know about the winless 49ers. If you care, his name is C.J. Beathard (BETH-urd) and he's a third-round pick from Iowa who took over for Brian Hoyer. 

Wentz said this week that the Niners don't look like an 0-7 team but I guess that depends on what game he was watching. Because five of their seven losses have come by three or fewer points but the other two have been complete blowouts, including last week's 40-10 drubbing at the hands of the Cowboys. 

This week will give us a sense of just how focused the Eagles actually are. I think they'll be plenty focused in this one, even against a winless team in the rain. 

They ain't losing to "what's his name." 

Eagles 34, 49ers 13

Derrick Gunn (6-1)
Losing both future Hall of Famer LT Jason Peters and LB Jordan Hicks for the season are big blows, but the Eagles have become used to the next-man-up mentality. Each week, the legend of Wentz continues to grow. In comes a 49ers squad still in search of its first win of the year. Prior to getting blown out by Dallas, the Niners had set an NFL record for losing five consecutive games by three points or less. Last Sunday, the Cowboys attacked a porous Niners' run defense (29th, allowing 134.6 yards per game) by running the ball 43 times for 265 yards, including 26 by Dak Prescott.

The Eagles must do the same ground and pound and put the Niners away early. San Fran rookie QB Beathard has potential, but he's not ready for what Jim Schwartz will throw at him. It should be an interesting game for at least a half, but the team with the best record in the league should eventually pull away.

Eagles 31, 49ers 10

Ray Didinger (6-1)
The Eagles are adjusting to life without Peters and Hicks, both major losses, but the good news is this week they play the winless San Francisco 49ers, so if there are a few glitches, they shouldn't be too costly. The 49ers are in a total rebuild and while they are playing hard — five of their losses are by three points or less — they aren't very good. They were no match for Dallas (40-10) last week.

Rookie head coach Kyle Shanahan is going with another rookie, Beathard, at quarterback and the kid looks overmatched. The Dallas defense sacked him five times and he fumbled twice. The Eagles have a better pass rush than the Cowboys, so this looks like a big game for Fletcher Cox, Brandon Graham and Derrick Barnett, who got two sacks Monday night against Washington.

Eagles 30, 49ers 13

Andrew Kulp (6-1)
It's going to take an epic meltdown by the Eagles to lose this game. The 49ers have managed to play some close games this year, but the list of teams that have experienced scares includes the Cardinals, Colts and Washington. I don't believe the Eagles are in that category.

The 49ers also took a step back last week, losing 40-10 to Dallas with first-time starter Beathard at the helm, so I'm going to go ahead and guess things are going to get worse before they get better. Wentz continues to roll, and the Eagles win with ease.

Eagles 41, 49ers 6

Corey Seidman (4-3)
Literally, the only chance the 49ers have to win this game is with multiple return TDs — one in the kicking game, one on defense. Other than that, how is this offense supposed to keep up with the Eagles? How is this defense supposed to contain Wentz, even in the rain?

This should be a pretty easy win. The Eagles are 12- to 14-point favorites and I fully expect them to cover.

Eagles 27, 49ers 6

Andy Schwartz (6-1) 
The Eagles are rolling.

The Niners are winless. 

After losing five straight by a combined 13 points (all two or three points, including two in OT), the 49ers got blitzed by Dallas on Sunday by 30. And that was at home.

Now they come across the country to face the Eagles. I know about any given Sunday and all that, but San Fran's first W isn't happening here. Maybe next week at home against banged-up Arizona.

Eagles 31, 49ers 20

5 Minutes with Roob: Josh Andrews still waiting on his chance 4 years later

5 Minutes with Roob: Josh Andrews still waiting on his chance 4 years later

In today's "Five Minutes with Roob," Reuben Frank chats with Eagles guard/center Josh Andrews:

Roob: Let's clear the air first. You're definitely not related to Shawn Andrews?

Josh Andrews: No, I'm not. No relation to Shawn Andrews at all.

Roob: So that's one positive. Do you get that a lot?

Andrews: I've got it a few times now, but no relation.

Roob: Alright well that's good to know. Now, you've got a really interesting story. You've been here four years now. Talk about when you came here in '14, were there a lot of teams trying to sign you out of Oregon State? How did that whole thing go?

Andrews: Went undrafted, about three teams tried to grab me, but felt like the best fit was for the Eagles and I've been here ever since.

Roob: It's really crazy because obviously, they like you. Obviously, Chip (Kelly) liked you. Obviously, Doug (Pederson) likes you. But you haven't had a chance to play. How do you balance being here, preparing like you're gonna play every week and not having gotten that chance yet?

Andrews: Just gotta have that mindset to get ready every week. That's how I've been since I've been here. My time is coming, I just gotta wait and do what's best for this team right now and keep us winning.

Roob: Now there was a really interesting thing on Tuesday, Jim Schwartz, without prompting, I don't know if you heard about this, he mentioned you as far as talking about how guys on the offense help the defense prepare. And he mentioned that you'll go to him and say, 'Hey we're figuring this out in running scout team.' Because you run scout team center or guard, I guess mainly center I would think. That's kind of unusual for a defensive coordinator to mention a scout team offensive lineman. What do you bring to him? What do you see from the first defense that can maybe help?

Andrews: Just blocking schemes you know, the way that they're ran. Say if (Fletcher Cox) needs help with something I'll be like 'I think this is the best way to go.' And it's been working. They've been getting home a lot this season and it's really been paying off for our defense.

Roob: How hard is it to not play?

Andrews: Man, it's tough. It's really tough. But just gotta keep going. I love playing this sport and I will continue as long as I can. 

Roob: I remember there was one game, I think it was 2015, where somebody got hurt and you ran on the field and then they didn't leave the game. 

Andrews: Oh yeah, that was against the Cowboys in 2015. Lane (Johnson) got hurt, pretty sure it was Lane. And I was about to go in and then he came back on the field. I was like, 'Ah man, that was my shot.' But, I gotta keep positive. Gotta keep that positive mindset. That's how I've been ever since I've been here.

Roob: Now you've actually been here longer than most of the team. (Jason) Kelce's a guy who's been here your whole time. What have you learned from being around him, watching him play, watching him practice?

Andrews: He's such a smart guy man. On the field, the way he just commands attention, the way he commands the offensive line is just impressive to see. I try to mimic that every time I step on the field. I've learned so much from him over these past four years and he's just a great player to learn from and be under. 

Roob: Now preseason games I guess are like your Super Bowl now, right? Cause that's your chance to play. What do those games mean to you? You're not playing a lot. A few of them you're playing a lot. But what does it mean to get out there and have a chance to play?

Andrews: It's gold man. That's everything for me right now. When I get a chance to get on that field, I give it all I got. I've done that ever since I've been here. That's just, like you said, my Super Bowl. Every time I go on that field I give it all I got. 

Roob: What's (offensive line) coach (Jeff) Stoutland meant to you? You've been around him a while now. 

Andrews: Great mentor. Great teacher. He's just been wonderful. He's really hard on us and it's for a good reason, to get us better and get us playing at a high level. That's the way he commands the player and I like that. 

Roob: What's special about this team now? You've been on some good teams and some bad teams since you've been here but you guys are rolling, 8-1, seven-game winning streak going into Dallas Sunday night. What do you like about the kind of vibe in this locker room?

Andrews: The vibe is awesome. Everyone's on the same page. Everyone's with each other. It's been really different from the past three teams I've been on. I feel like we're gonna go far with the team we got right now. 

Roob: Alright last question. Chip Kelly, do you think he's going to take the Florida job?

Andrews: Sheesh, I don't know. We'll see. That's a good question.

Carson Wentz's durability is his biggest strength

usa-carson-wentz-eagles-faith.jpg
USA Today Images

Carson Wentz's durability is his biggest strength

Forget for a moment all the record-setting touchdown passes, all the dazzling third-down conversions and the highlight-reel red-zone heroics.

One of Carson Wentz's greatest accomplishments these last two years has just been playing football every Sunday. Being out there for his team without fail every week.

That alone puts him in an elite group.

Look around the league. Tyrod Taylor just got benched in Buffalo with the Bills in the playoff hunt. Trevor Siemian was benched just before the Broncos came to Philly. The 49ers benched Brian Hoyer a few weeks before facing the Eagles. 

Last we checked, the Browns have already benched DeShone Kizer, Cody Kessler and Kevin Hogan this fall.

Heck, even one-time Super Bowl winner Joe Flacco was benched by Ravens head coach John Harbaugh during a loss to the Jaguars.

We've been through all of that. That quarterback carousel. It never leads anywhere.

Wentz on Sunday night will start his 26th consecutive game. Every game the Eagles have played since opening day last year. He's one of only 12 quarterbacks who's started all his team's games over the last two years.

Elite quarterback play is huge for any football team, but quarterback stability is just as important. And Wentz is finally giving this franchise something it's lacked for much of the last quarter century.

Think about it.

From 1991 through 2015, a 25-year span, the only years an Eagles quarterback started 16 games were Donovan McNabb in 2000, 2001, 2003 and 2008. And McNabb got benched in 2008.

From 2010 through 2015, the six years between McNabb and Wentz, the Eagles used seven different quarterbacks. Not only did the Eagles not win anything during that span, there didn't seem to be much of a future either. 

The Eagles were stuck trying to build a championship team without an elite quarterback. Which is almost impossible to do.

All of which led Howie Roseman to make the franchise-altering decision that the Eagles had to do anything possible, no matter how drastic, no matter how extreme, to get that guy and turn the franchise over to him.

That realization, that organizational decision and the series of trades that landed Wentz in Philadelphia guaranteed that the Eagles would have quarterback stability and a chance for sustained success for the foreseeable future.

Just by starting 25 games in a row, Wentz has done something no Eagles QB had done since McNabb started 31 straight from opening day 2003 through Week 15 of 2004. With the No. 1 seed locked up, he didn't play the last week of the season.

McNabb started 51 straight games from midway through 1999, when he replaced Doug Pederson, through Week 10 of 2002, when he broke his ankle against the Cards (but threw four touchdowns anyway).

And along with those two McNabb streaks and streaks by Jaws and Randall, Wentz's run of 25 starts is already the Eagles' fifth-longest since Norm Van Brocklin started 36 straight from 1958 through 1960.

You've probably already picked up on the fact that the Eagles' greatest periods of success in the NFL's modern era — the 1960 Championship and the 1980 and 2004 Super Bowl appearances — just happen to coincide with periods of tremendous quarterback stability.

And maybe very soon we can add another era to that list.

Just by being out there every Sunday, Wentz has separated himself from most quarterbacks in the NFL.

Of the 12 QBs who've started every game since opening day last year, only six have a career winning record. And of those six, only Wentz and Dak Prescott -—both 24 — are under 28.

They'll meet for the third time Sunday night in Dallas, and whatever happens, both franchises are in good hands for the foreseeable future.

For the Eagles, these are heady days. Wentz is having an MVP season and Roseman and Joe Douglas have surrounded him with a deep and talented roster.

An entire generation of quarterbacks — Tom Brady, Ben Roethlisberger, Philip Rivers, Eli Manning, Drew Brees, Carson Palmer — will be retiring in the next few years. And most of the young QBs lining up to replace them are unproven. Even guys like Kirk Cousins, Matt Stafford, Cam Newton and Russell Wilson will be in their mid-30s in five years.

How many NFL teams know who their quarterback will be in, let's say, 2023? The Texans with Deshaun Watson, the Rams with Jared Goff, Marcus Mariota in Tennessee and probably Jameis Winston in Tampa. And the Eagles and Cowboys. Anybody else?

Most NFL teams are in a constant search for that elite quarterback. Not around here. Not anymore.

The most important question facing almost every NFL team is one the Eagles won't have to even think about for a decade.