All the talk heading into this week's Philadelphia Eagles versus San Francisco 49ers game is how the Niners are the more desperate team. This is not untrue. The 49ers are 1-2 and cannot really afford to drop down to 1-3 in a tough NFC West division.
Then there's the fact the 49ers have been a really lackluster second half team. If the 49ers start off slow, it could be tough for them to overcome a Philadelphia team that leads the league in second half scoring. All the pressure is on the 49ers to get off to a fast start and sustain their pace instead of falling off like they have in the first three weeks.
Just because San Francisco is the more desperate team does not mean they will win. It's not hard to imagine the 49ers could elevate their level of play knowing the stakes. On the other hand, desperation can lead to increased mistakes. How the 49ers respond to this pressure remains to be seen.
Meanwhile, the undefeated Eagles don't exactly seem to be facing a lot of pressure. Philadelphia sits pretty atop the NFC East with a 3-0 record. Even if Philadelphia loses they will still be first in the NFC East at 3-1. (If the Dallas Cowboys beat the New Orleans Saints on Sunday Night Football and advance to 3-1, the Eagles will still be in first because they are 1-0 in the NFC East while the Cowboys are 0-0.)
Just because the Eagles aren't facing a pressure situation doesn't mean they will leave their A-game at home. Remember the last time Philadelphia played an opposing team that had more to gain than the Eagles did? Yeah, that was back last season when the Eagles beat the Chicago Bears, who could have clinched the NFC North with a win, 54-11. The Eagles had virtually nothing to gain or lose in that game.
As always, it won't be easy. Philadelphia has struggled to get their run-game going and the loss of starting center Jason Kelce sure won't help getting it back on track. Kelce's loss can't be understated. David Molk showed some promise in preseason but he spent the entire 2013 NFL season out of the league. Kelce is clearly more talented. The good news about the Eagles' weakened offensive line is that Matt Tobin is returning at left guard which will send struggling right tackle Andrew Gardner back to the bench. Looking further ahead, it should also be noted that Lane Johnson's suspension ends after this game. Johnson will return to the team on Monday, September 29.
But back to the game. The defense continues to remain an issue after the Eagles have failed to get a sack in two consecutive games. The lack of pressure is allowing quarterbacks to have the time to throw all over an exposed Eagles secondary.
On a more positive note, Eagles quarterback Nick Foles played his best game of the season last week. If Foles is truly hitting a grove, that will be bad news for opposing defenses. Don't forget: the last time Foles made a trip out west he ended up throwing seven touchdowns.
I feel like I say it every week but this should be a good game. It's Chip Kelly versus Jim Harbaugh. I can't imagine the entire game passes with at least one angry Harbaugh GIF.
Will the Eagles come out on top?