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49ers vs. Eagles: San Francisco starts fast while Philadelphia finishes strong

The San Francisco 49ers are the best first half team. The Philadelphia Eagles are the best second half team. Who will win?

Jeffrey G. Pittenger-USA TODAY Sports

Part of a new campaign the SB Nation NFL blogs will be participating in this 2014 season involves answering questions posed by Hall of Fame running back Marshall Faulk. Faulk, who is also an analyst at NFL Network, asked his latest question in the video above: "What has been the most well-crafted aspect of your team so far?"

The most well-crafted part of this Philadelphia Eagles team right now isn't exactly intentional. It has to be the team's second half performances. Philadelphia is the first team in NFL history to start a season 3-0 after being down 10-plus points in all three games. The Eagles are averaging 24.7 points in the second half alone. That's impressive.

On the other hand, it's an unideal situation. If the Eagles are truly capable of such high performance they should be getting off to faster starts. Playing from behind is not a great way to win. This holds especially true for the Eagles' Week 4 game against the San Francisco 49ers this week. While the Eagles are only average 9 first half points per game, which ranks 20th in the NFL, the 49ers score a league-leading average of 19.7 first half points.

The flip side of this dynamic is that the 49ers have struggled in the second half. San Francisco has only scored a total of just three second half points --  no, that's not a typo -- in three games played. That's 23.7 points less than what the Eagles are averaging. Even further, the Eagles lead the league in fourth quarter scoring with a total of 40 points while San Francisco has been held entirely scoreless.

Let's put some context behind those numbers. Turnovers prevented the Eagles from being able to score in the first half against the Jaguars in Week 1. Against the Colts, the Eagles moved the ball better but ended up settling for field goals in the redzone. Washington kept the ball away from Philadelphia in the first half in Week 3 until the Eagles finally put up points later in the half.

As far as Philadelphia's second half performances go, Darren Sproles was absolutely critical in the first two weeks. The small-but-mighty offensive weapon was a forced to be reckoned with. In Week 3, it was Nick Foles and Philadelphia's wide receivers that really stepped up.

Now let's look at San Francisco. The 49ers jumped out to a big lead over the Cowboys in Week 1 due to a number of turnovers from Tony Romo. The 49ers didn't really need to score late in that game due to their early lead. In Week 2, however, San Francisco blew their lead over Chicago and the Bears came down from 20-7 to win by a total of 28-20. The 49ers couldn't score to get themselves back into the game. San Francisco failed to score on the road against the Arizona Cardinals' stout defense after going up 14-6 at halftime.

If these trends hold up, which is certainly not a given, the Eagles might be entirely fine if they can at least keep the game close in the first half. From there, Philadelphia may be able to simply outlast the desperate 1-2 49ers until the end of the game.

The Eagles may eventually be burned by these well-crafted second half performances if slow starts continue to be a problem. For Week 4, however, the pressure is all on the 49ers. Even more so if it's San Francisco that gets off to a slow start.


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