Andy Schwartz

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

Eagles-Redskins predictions by our (cough) experts

Eagles-Redskins predictions by our (cough) experts

For the second straight game, the Birds are in prime time. And this time, it's in front of the home fans. 

Following last week's Thursday night win over the Panthers, the 5-1 Eagles host the 3-2 Redskins Monday night (8:30 p.m./ESPN).

It's a massive opportunity to sweep the Redskins and take control of the NFC East. 

Our experts provide their predictions for Week 7:

Reuben Frank (6-0)
Do you really think I’m going to pick against the Eagles now? Heck, I might not pick against them the rest of the year. Maybe at Seattle. Honestly, I look at the schedule and the way they’re playing? The way Carson Wentz is playing? Unless something fundamental changes — which in this league is always possible — it could be a while before they lose a football game. The Eagles are rolling in all phases, and Monday night will be a good test — the Redskins are 3-1 since losing the opener to the Eagles, with the only loss to the same Chiefs team that handed the Eagles their only loss. The 'Skins are sixth in offense and 12th in defense. They lead the NFL in yards per pass play. They can be explosive. They’re eighth in rush defense. Nothing will come easy for the Eagles Monday night. But the Redskins are not coming into the Linc and winning. Eagles go to 6-1 and virtually clinch the NFC East Monday night with a win.

Eagles 31, Redskins 21

Dave Zangaro (4-2)
Washington seems like a much more dangerous team than the one the Eagles faced in the opener on Sept. 10. 

But the Eagles are a heckuva lot more dangerous too. 

Since the Eagles went to Washington and came away with a win in the opener, Washington has gone 3-1. But the Eagles have gone 4-1 with the one loss coming to the Chiefs. The Eagles have the best record in football. 

So sure, they shouldn't head into this Monday night game expecting a cakewalk but they should absolutely expect to win. They're the better team. 

Kirk Cousins has played well as of late but the Eagles' defensive line was able to get after him in Week 1. If that group does it again, it won't matter how good Cousins is throwing the ball. As good as Cousins has been recently, Wentz has been equally impressive, vaulting his name into the forefront of the MVP conversation. This week he'll go against a banged up Washington secondary. 

The Eagles have a chance to further extend their lead in the NFC East and they shouldn't have a problem doing it. 

Eagles 31, Redskins 23

Derrick Gunn (5-1)
Because they have the best record in the NFC, the Eagles have a huge target on their backs and everybody is gunning for them. On Monday night, the Redskins are hoping to take them down a notch. The ‘Skins come limping to the Linc. Their star rookie defensive lineman Jonathan Allen is done for the year with a Lisfranc injury. Their starting cornerbacks Josh Norman (rib) and Bashaud Breeland (knee) both might miss this key divisional showdown — Norman is already out. 

Wentz has the Eagles' offense rolling, and the defense has been rock solid against the run. Cousins will go after a Birds secondary ranked 29th against the pass (273.5 yards per game). One of the key matchups to watch closely is how the Eagles will try to defend against ‘Skins running back Chris Thompson, who is Washington’s leading rusher. More importantly, he’s their leading receiver, averaging 18.9 yards.

In Week 1, the Eagles sacked Cousins four times, but since then he’s only been sacked four times. The Birds broke the ‘Skins jinx in the season opener. I look for the home team to make it a season sweep.

Eagles 28, Redskins 24

Ray Didinger (5-1)
The Redskins are playing better now than they were when the Eagles defeated them in Week 1. The offense is more balanced and they have found an explosive weapon at running back in Thompson, who is averaging almost 19 yards per reception. The defense is not making as many mental mistakes but it will miss top draft pick Allen, who broke his foot last week.

Still, the formula for beating the Redskins is the same as it was a month ago and that is getting pressure on Cousins. The Redskins quarterback is having a good year — his 106.4 passer rating trails only Alex Smith and Tom Brady — but if the Eagles can harass Cousins as effectively as they did in the opener they will complete the season sweep of the Redskins. I think they will.

Eagles 30, Redskins 21

Andrew Kulp (5-1)
Everything points to the Eagles here. They’re a hot team, well rested, the offense is clicking and the quarterback is absolutely feeling it. Washington will be without Norman and possibly Breeland at cornerback as well, among other injuries, so this is a shorthanded group.

The only concerns are it’s a divisional matchup, which tend to be close games, and whether the extra few days off knocks the Eagles out of a rhythm. Otherwise, it’s clear which is the healthier and more talented squad. Oh yeah, and the capacity Lincoln Financial Field crowd is going to be extra lathered up for a Monday night.

Eagles 41, Redskins 24

Corey Seidman (3-3)
The Eagles are getting healthier and the Redskins are not. First-round defensive lineman Allen is out for the season, and both of Washington's starting cornerbacks (Norman and Breeland) are banged up.

Add in the fact that the Redskins haven't yet been able to get Terrelle Pryor or Jordan Reed going and this just looks like an Eagles win, which would give them a commanding lead in the NFC East and go a long way toward helping them secure a playoff bye. Yep, I'm already going there.

Zach Ertz dominates the 'Skins again, Alshon Jeffery finds pay dirt and the Eagles improve to 6-1.

Eagles 31, Redskins 23

Andy Schwartz (5-1) 
No suspense here.

After an impressive victory over the Panthers, how can we pick the Eagles to lose?

Which doesn’t mean they won’t. Every team throws in a clunker now and then. But until this team does, I’m not going to predict it. Especially when it's well rested and playing at home against a team it's already beaten this season.

The Eagles are favored by 4.5 with an over/under of 48.5. Seems about right. A late Jake Elliott field goal covers the spread but isn’t enough for the over.

Eagles 27, Redskins 20

Eagles-Panthers predictions by our (cough) experts

Eagles-Panthers predictions by our (cough) experts

Oh, the short weeks.

Aren't they fun?

Unlike some weeks, this Thursday Night Football game is a big one.

The 4-1 Eagles against the 4-1 Panthers (8:25 p.m./CBS).

Who will stay atop the NFC when the clock hits zero?

Our experts provide their predictions for Week 6:

Reuben Frank (5-0)
Can the Eagles keep it going? Things will be a lot tougher Thursday night than they have been the last three weeks, when the Eagles beat three teams with a combined 3-12 record. 

The Panthers are 4-1 with the NFL's No. 3-ranked defense and one of the league's most dynamic quarterbacks. It's a short week. The game's on the road. The Eagles are banged up. 

But you know what? I don't care. 

The Eagles are 4-1 also and I feel like they still haven't put together an all-around game, with big plays on both sides of the football. If they continue running the ball and stopping the run, they're going to be very tough to beat — for anybody. 

Tough game but I'm going Eagles.

Eagles 17, Panthers 16

Dave Zangaro (4-1)
The Panthers aren't the Chargers. 

So sure, the Eagles were able to go to California a couple weeks ago and get a big road win against Los Angeles. Winning this game in Charlotte against the Panthers on a short week is a completely different animal. 

Like the Eagles, the Panthers are also 4-1, except their last two wins came at New England and at Detroit. Maybe it'll help the Eagles that the Panthers had to come back from Detroit to play on a short week. But that cancels out against a team traveling to play on Thursday. Home teams win over 61 percent of Thursday Night Football games; it's a bigger advantage than normal. 

If the Eagles find a way to pull out a win, it would establish them as one of the best teams in the NFC. But this is going to be too hard without Lane Johnson. Remember, the Eagles are 2-8 without him since the beginning of 2016. 

I think the Birds keep it close, but close doesn't get it done. 

Panthers 24, Eagles 21

Derrick Gunn (5-0)
Carolina is coming off impressive back-to-back road wins at New England and Detroit. Cam Newton appears to have his 2015 groove back. In his last two games, Newton has completed 77 percent of his passes with six TDs and one INT. 

The Eagles totally dominated Arizona, but this is an upgrade in competition. The Birds could use Fletcher Cox in the trenches. He was a full participant in practice on Tuesday but his availability for Thursday night is unknown as a game-time decision. 

The Birds could use another one of those steady run games to keep the Panthers' defense on its heels. This game will be won in the trenches. The Panthers like to get physical on both sides of the ball, and the Eagles are determined to match them blow for blow. 

In the end, Carolina delivers the knockout punch.

Panthers 31, Eagles 24

Ray Didinger (5-0)
Carolina has played its best football on the road, winning at San Francisco, New England and Detroit. The Panthers have been less than inspiring at home, squeezing past Buffalo (9-3) and getting hammered by New Orleans (34-13). So the Eagles have that going for them, which is nice. But does it really apply to tonight's game at Bank of America Stadium? I'm not sure it does.

Newton makes the Carolina offense go and he is red hot, coming off the wins over the Patriots and Lions in which he threw for more than 300 yards in each game. It took him awhile to get over the loss of his favorite target, tight end Greg Olsen (broken foot), but he is spreading the ball around to rookie Christian McCaffrey (27 catches), Devin Funchess (24 catches, three touchdowns) and Ed Dickson (175 yards vs. Detroit). Newton is completing 68 percent of his passes after completing just 53 percent in a miserable 2016 season.

The Eagles are playing very well themselves and they thoroughly dominated Arizona on Sunday, but the short week, the travel and the loss of Johnson tilts this one in Carolina's favor.

Panthers 27, Eagles 24

Andrew Kulp (5-0)
Tough matchup to get a read on, but the Eagles are hitting the road on a short week, and Newton is red hot. 

Hard not to take the Panthers — only a year removed from a trip to the Super Bowl — over the upstart Eagles. Their secondary is still a concern and will have its hands full with Newton, Kelvin Benjamin and Funchess.

Panthers 26, Eagles 24

Corey Seidman (3-2)
Short week, no Johnson … I still want to go with the Eagles in this spot but it just feels like the McCaffrey breakout game. I don’t see Jonathan Stewart doing much against the Eagles but McCaffrey is going to be tough to stop in the red zone with all the other threats Carolina poses (Newton's running, Benjamin jump-balls). If the Eagles were at full strength (with Johnson and Cox), I think they’d win this game, but alas. 

Panthers 24, Eagles 23

Andy Schwartz (5-0) 
Don't like the situation here.

1. Thursday night game.

Completely agree with Rob Ellis. The turnaround is too short, and the product suffers because of it.

2. On the road.

It's not Seattle or Kansas City, but still.

3. Against a rejuvenated Newton.

Newton after a rough first two weeks has found his mojo, beating up the Patriots and Lions in consecutive weeks. And doing so without tight end Olsen.

4. No Johnson

Hopefully Big V can keep it up against the Panthers, who are tied for third in the league in sacks with 17. (The Eagles are tied for 12th with 12.)

5. Maybe no Cox.

He's a game-time decision and even if he plays, will he be 100 percent? Holding him out and giving him another week and a half of rest before the Monday nighter at home against Washington would make sense.

Panthers 23, Eagles 20