The San Francisco 49ers host the Philadelphia Eagles tonight to complete the Sunday National Football League schedule. This game has more characteristics that would be attributed to a war zone than an NFL game.
Smoke is a concern, and injuries have both teams with more athletes looking for a MASH tent than Hawkeye Pierce would be able to handle. The Eagles suffered a series of injuries in their opener that had them go from a team that was dominating their opening day opponent to one that gave up the final 27 points in a 27-17 loss to the Washington Redskins.
It was second week action when the 49ers were crippled by a number of injuries including players that many fans would list among their favorites. Included in the injuries that day, suffered during a win over the New York Jets, were Jimmy Garoppolo and Nick Bosa, arguably the most important players from both sides of the ball.
Garoppolo is not yet ready to return, while Bosa is lost for the season.
Now, here is an interesting note, that since the 49ers began suffering the string of injuries they have won both games played. They downed the Jets while having five players sidelined, and trounced the New York Giants last week with backups at key positions, including Nick Mullens at quarterback.
The Eagles are still looking for their first win of the season, following their opening loss to the Redskins with defeats against the Los Angeles Rams and a tie last week in Cincinnati against the Bengals, 23-23.
If we were to take a step back, we can see that these two National Football Conference teams came into the season with high hopes. The 49ers are the defending conference champions and the Eagles the most recent NFC Super Bowl winner. But, with three games played, they both have little evidence to prove they are on their way to a playoff berth.
The Niners wins have come against the two New York teams, a pair of squads that have six losses between them in three weeks of play. The Eagles got a tie last week against a Bengals team still looking for their first win with Joe Burrow at quarterback, and the only Redskins victory in three weeks was when they beat the Eagles. In other words, the Bengals and Redskins are a combined 0-4 except when they play the Eagles, where they have a 1-0-1 mark.
So, what does that leave us with tonight?
If the smoke clears enough to allow the game to be played, that is expected, we can be sure that Philadelphia will be out for blood in an effort to snap their winless string … and that the 49ers are in a classic spot for a flat performance.
Last week, against the Giants, the 49ers started backup Mullens in Garopplo’s absence, and with the injuries on both sides of the ball San Francisco was not taking the homesteading squad at MetLife Stadium for granted. The edge to overcome the sidelined players spurred the 49ers onto a big effort, and that resulted in a 36-9 triumph.
Now, off that victory, and after they got the spike in their performance to compensate for the loss of Garoppolo and friends, the Niners are left with another game against a weak opponent and without the motivational boost to compensate for their injuries. The Niners know they can win with this cast of characters, while the Eagles have the prospect of facing an almost certain road loss.
The edge goes to the Eagles plus the points in this one motivationally, but their poor play is not enough to justify recommending a wager on this contest.