Eagles

Eagles-49ers thoughts: A loss to winless Niners would be crushing

Eagles-49ers thoughts: A loss to winless Niners would be crushing

Eagles-49ers
1 p.m. on FOX
Eagles favored by 13.5

The Eagles look to increase their NFL-best winning streak to six games against a winless 49ers squad at Lincoln Financial Field in Week 8.

Even when the schedule came out in April, before anybody realized how good the Eagles are, this looked like a lopsided matchup. Not only are the 49ers 0-7 in 2017, but they’re 2-21 dating back to last season. This is a franchise that’s still very much in the early stages of a full-on rebuild.

Don’t expect the Eagles to show any sympathy Sunday, either. At 6-1, this team isn’t just trying to win the division or sneak into the playoffs. They’re gunning for a bye and home-field advantage in the playoffs. The 49ers are just the latest opponent standing in the way.

Which team shows up?
For a while there, the 49ers looked like one of the tougher winless teams in recent memory. They had become the first team in NFL history to lose five consecutive games by three points or less, two of those going to overtime.

Then the Cowboys came to town. Dallas smoked the 49ers last week by a final score of 40-10 in an outcome that never appeared to be in much doubt from the opening snap.

The 49ers absolutely have more talent than their record would indicate. They’ve given the likes of the Seahawks and the Rams problems this season and could be motivated to play the role of spoiler at the Linc.

Or the 49ers could get blown out, as has happened on two occasions this season as well. It’s hard to say which version will show up.

Man on Fire
It doesn’t help the 49ers any that they are running into one of the hottest players in the NFL Sunday. Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz has been spectacular all season long, but over the course of the last three weeks, the 24-year-old has been playing the best football of his brief pro career.

In the Eagles’ last three games, Wentz is completing 54 of 85 pass attempts (63.5 percent) for 794 yards (9.3 average) with 11 touchdowns to only one interception. That’s good for a 128.6 passer rating, and he has an additional 99 yards rushing, too.

Wentz is playing like one of the top five or certainly top 10 quarterbacks in the entire league right now. He’s connecting with his receivers down the field, converting in the red zone and on third and fourth downs, using his legs when necessary and keeping turnovers to a minimum.

It’s difficult to imagine the 49ers’ 28th-ranked defense slowing Wentz down right now.

Ball control is key
What’s making the Eagles so difficult to beat this season? Well, a lot of things, actually. But right at the top of the list is a masterful ability to move the sticks and possess the football.

The Eagles’ offense ranks among the top five in the NFL in both rushing and passing, though by now everybody knows pure yardage totals can be deceiving. However, numbers can also measure this team’s expertise in ball control.

Second in average time of possession at 33 minutes and 43 seconds. First in third-down conversions at 50.5 percent, and tied for second on fourth downs at 80.0 percent. Third in the red zone, crossing the goal line for a touchdown 65.2 percent of the time. And tied for sixth with a plus-four turnover differential, showing not only the offense’s ability to take care of the football but the defense’s ability to take it away.

Not surprisingly, with 53 net points for the seasons, the Eagles are second in that category as well. They’re not just winning — they’re winning in convincing fashion.

As long as the Eagles continue to take care of the football Sunday, the 49ers shouldn’t stand a chance.

Key matchup: Eagles D-line vs. 49ers O-line
49ers quarterback C.J. Beathard is making the second start of his NFL career. A third-round draft pick out of Iowa, Beathard is showing a propensity for holding on to the football too long in limited action. And if he does the same against the Eagles, he should be in for a long day.

Aside from Pro Bowl left tackle Joe Staley, the 49ers’ offensive line is a bit of a mess. Right tackle Trent Brown is likely out with a concussion, while right guard is questionable as well with a biceps injury. Left guard Laken Tomlinson and center Daniel Kilgore simply aren’t very good.

The Cowboys were able to sack Beathard five times last week, forcing two fumbles. The opportunities will be there for an Eagles front against a patchwork O-line, and a young quarterback who will be hesitant to pull the trigger. Dominate the 49ers up front, and everything will go according to plan.

They can’t lose
This is definitely a game where an Eagles loss would be far more significant than an Eagles win.

An Eagles win is expected, and would almost be taken for granted. The 49ers are a vastly inferior team, and nothing more than a speedbump on the path to the playoffs.

An Eagles loss, on the other hand, would feel devastating. It would raise nothing but questions. Is this squad as good as we thought? Are injuries beginning to take their toll? Are they still shoe-ins to win the NFC East and reach the postseason? The narrative will be complete panic.

So you see, the Eagles have to win. Not just because of how it will impact them in the standings. They need to win for the public safety of the fans, who are going to lose their minds otherwise.

Eagles at Saints live: Score, highlights, analysis from NFL Week 11 game

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AP Images

Eagles at Saints live: Score, highlights, analysis from NFL Week 11 game

4:57 p.m.: The Saints are up two scores now after driving 86 yards and punching in the game’s first touchdown. The big play of the drive was a 30-yard pass to Michael Thomas. Sidney Jones was in coverage and has had a couple rough plays so far. There’s 3:12 left in the first quarter. 

To add injury to insult, Avonte Maddox got hurt and had to leave the game. 

Saints 10, Eagles 0 

4:42 p.m.: Two Eagles’ drive. Two 3-and-outs. This offense is broken. They have just 15 yards on six plays and haven’t gotten a first down yet. Against this Saints team, they’re going to need to score some points. 

4:36 p.m.: The Saints took a 3-0 lead on a 38-yard field goal that capped a 57-yard drive. The Eagles gave up a 38-yard run from Mark Ingram on the first play, but rebounded to get a big stop. Malcolm Jenkins made a big tackle on third down. 

Saints 3, Eagles 0 

4:29 p.m.: The Eagles went 3-and-out on their first possession. They nearly got a first down on 3rd-and-long but didn’t. 

4:18 p.m.: There were a lot of Eagles fans around town, but Saints fans are going to drown them out. This place is so loud. It’s not going to be a home on the road for the Eagles this week.  

3:50 p.m.: The Cowboys got a 42-yard field goal at the buzzer to take down the Atlanta Falcons and move to 5-5 on the season. That means the Eagles need to win today to keep pace. 

Meanwhile, in New Orleans, they’re getting ready to face this guy. 

2:59 p.m.: Eagles inactive are out: 

2:29 p.m.: Washington was about to take a lead at the end of the half, but Alex Smith threw a 101-yard pick-6 and the Texans extended their lead. It’s 17-7 at halftime. In Atlanta, the Falcons are clinging to a 6-3 lead over the Cowboys. 

1:40 p.m.: Keep an eye on the game in Washington. The Texans have a 10-0 lead after one quarter. The Eagles can use all the help they can get in the NFC East. 

1:15 p.m.: After about a half hour of trying to figure out how to get in the Superdome and then how to get up to the press box, I have finally arrived. This is my first trip to the Superdome. First impressions, it’s kind of a dump, but also kinda cool. I’m looking forward to seeing how loud this place gets in a few hours. 

10:53 a.m.: Good morning, everyone. It’s game day! And it’s a big one for the Eagles. I’m getting ready to walk to the Superdome from my hotel and we’ll follow this entire game day together. 

For what it’s worth, I was out about town last night and saw a ton of Eagles fans. Another big showing from Eagles fans in another city. We’ve seen that on every trip this year. I think it was a perfect storm for it. The Eagles are coming off a Super Bowl and have a tremendous road schedule. A lot of good options for fans and they’re making the most of these trips. 

Be sure to watch Eagles Pregame Live at 3 p.m. and tune in after the game for our complete breakdown on Eagles Postgame Live. 

Redskins lose Alex Smith to gruesome ankle injury against Texans

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AP Images

Redskins lose Alex Smith to gruesome ankle injury against Texans

NEW ORLEANS — As the Eagles get ready to play the Saints in the Superdome, their biggest competition in the NFC East lost its quarterback. 

In the third quarter of Washington’s game against the Texans, Alex Smith went down with a gruesome ankle injury. He needed to be carted off the field. 

Washington carries just two quarterbacks, so Colt McCoy is now their starting quarterback unless they make a move next week. McCoy hasn’t made a start since the 2014 season, but it looks like it might be his team from here on out. 

Through nine games, Washington built a 6-3 record, but are losing to the Texans and are now without their starting quarterback. The Eagles are going to have every chance to get back into this division race. 

The Eagles and Redskins play on Monday Night Football at the Linc on Dec. 3. It’s the first of their two matchups. They also play in Washington in the regular season finale. 

 

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