Nothing has come easy this season for the Philadelphia Eagles, who sit atop the NFC East with a 3-0 record. Entering Week 4, the team has trailed every opponent by double-digits, but they’ve somehow managed to be among the three unbeaten teams in the NFL.
It might be not as easy for the Eagles to make another comeback in Week 4. The team will head out to play the San Francisco 49ers, who have reached the NFC Championship game in three straight seasons.
Philadelphia is coming off a hard-fought victory over the Washington Redskins, in which they trailed by 10 points in the second quarter. The previous week they overcame a 14-point deficit to the Indianapolis Colts, and the Eagles beat the Jacksonville Jaguars by 17 points in the opener, despite being shut out 17-0 in the first half.
Chip Kelly’s high-powered offense has been the catalyst for Philadelphia’s undefeated start. Only the Atlanta Falcons have scored more than the Eagles’ 33.7 points per game, and they needed a 56-point game to take the top spot.
Nick Foles began the 2014 season with a lot to prove, throwing 27 touchdowns and just two interceptions in his first year as a starter, but losing in the first round of the playoffs. The quarterback has continued to be productive this season, despite the loss of his top receiver, throwing for 978 yards, six scores and two picks.
The Eagles might be the NFL’s best offensive team, even though their top playmaker has struggled. A year after leading the league in rushing, LeSean McCoy ranks 17th in the league, averaging just 2.9 yards per carry. As long as the Eagles keep winning, Kelly isn’t too concerned.
“We haven’t had any conversations about it,” Kelly told reporters on Wednesday. “One thing I know about LeSean and everybody loves is he wants to win. I know he knows we’re 3‑0. He’s had more carries this year in the first three games than he had last year. But obviously the same five guys blocking for him is part of it to do with it. We’ve got to do a better job in the run game just overall, but I think he’s excited that we’re 3‑0.”
Both the Eagles and 49ers were expected to be contenders for the Super Bowl at the start of the 2014 season, but only one has lived up to expectations. San Francisco sits at 1-2, having lost two games in a row.
The 49ers dominated the first seven quarters of their season, but have been outscored 44-14 over the last five quarters. The San Francisco offense has stalled, especially the running game, which ranked in the top four in each of the last three seasons. Running backs Frank Gore and Carlos Hyde have combined to total just 203 yards on the ground.
Against Philadelphia, the San Francisco passing attack could have one of its best games of 2014. The Eagles rank 30th in the league, allowing 280 yards per game through the air. Kirk Cousins went for 427 yards in Week 3, and Chad Henne, who has since been benched, even threw for 266 yards in the opener.
Tight end Vernon Davis should be back on the field in Week 4. He missed the 49ers’ loss in Arizona with an ankle injury, but said that he’s “feeling great” this week, via the Sacramento Bee. Colin Kaepernick hit Davis for 13 touchdown passes in 2013.
Sunday’s matchup marks the end of the first quarter of the 2014 season, and the 49ers can’t afford to keep losing. Between the Super Bowl champion Seattle Seahawks and the undefeated Arizona Cardinals, the AFC West might be the best division in the NFL.
San Francisco has been favored to win all four of their games. The betting odds at Las Vegas casinos have Philadelphia getting 5.5 points. The over/under is listed at 50.5 total points.
Prediction: Philadelphia is very fortunate to be 3-0, considering the way they’ve started each game. The Eagles have an explosive offense, but the 49ers still have one of the top defenses in the league, and they aren’t likely to let another lead slip away at home.
Predicted Score: San Francisco 34, Philadelphia 24