5 Things to Watch for in Eagles vs 49ers Game
Doug Pederson know the biggest challenge ahead of him is keeping his team focused on a 0-7 49ers team.
In previewing the week, he understood that keeping his team focused, while his team is the talk to the league, on a team that has yet to win a football game this season and lost 40-10 last week at home.
"It's a great question because of where we are and where they are," Pederson acknowledged on Friday. "Listen, this is a good football team. Again, they've been in some close games. Had a chance to win some of those games. It's a good football team coming in here."
"It is my job to make sure that I hold these guys accountable, kind of keep their feet to the fire, myself included, coaching staff included, and guard against any letdown."
"Nobody looks past anybody," defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz added.
"I mean everybody understands this league. We have a good group of veteran players. And we faced a couple of teams this year that came in with no wins. Doesn't change the job that we have. And I like the maturity of our players to be ready every week. I think that's one of the things that I like about our defense."
Here are five things to watch in the matchup between the Eagles and 49ers this today:
Run the Ball Doug
One of the big things to watch is Doug Pederson's strategy with quarterback Carson Wentz, who has taken a ton of hits this season. One thing the 49ers do have is a young, talented group of pass rushers, so it might be best if the Eagles follow the Cowboys blue-print and run the ball.
Dallas averaged 6.2 yards per carry against the 49ers defense, with Ezekiel Elliott carrying the ball 26 times for 147 yards and two touchdowns. While the Eagles don't have an Elliott type of back, they should be able to mix and match and find plenty of yards on the ground and keep Wentz out of harm's way today.
With rain expected to fall for most of the day, Pederson acknowledged that could have an effect on the how he'll call the game.
"Not necessarily the game plan, but going into the game, knowing that it could rain, it might change how you call the game just a little bit. It just depends on the amount of rain."
Big V Gets the Start at Left Tackle
This will be one spot to watch on the Eagles offensive line. We saw how having one weak spot affected the team when Isaac Seumalo was the starting left guard, the Eagles had all sorts of issues. As soon as the Eagles replaced Seumalo, the team began to run the ball more effectively and the overall line ball was better.
Now without Peters, and Halapoulivaati Vaitai getting the start at left tackle, there is a chance the Eagles could have a weak spot in that line again, but the team feels that keeping Vaitai at left tackle is a better move than moving right tackle Lane Johnson over.
"Really right now [T] Lane Johnson is playing extremely well at the right side," Pederson explained. "Didn't want to disrupt two positions. So it made sense to keep V [T Halapoulivaati Vaitai] over on the left side."
While the Eagles catch a break with Arik Armstead missing the game with a broken arm, you can be sure the 49ers will try to give Vaitai different looks, and the Eagles will likely counter with different blocking schemes to help Vaitai out in his left tackle debut.
Brandon Graham vs Garry Gilliam
49ers starting right tackle Trent Brown (concussion) isn't expected to play in the game against the Eagles, meaning Brandon Graham would be matched up with backup Garry Gilliam. Last week in the game against Dallas, the Cowboys sacked 49ers QB C.J. Beathard five times last week, so the Eagles defensive front should be licking their chops this week.
While left tackle Joe Staley is solid, the overall offensive line is not very good and the Eagles should be able to get pressure on the quarterback today.
Third Down conversions a key
The Eagles are the best team in the league when it comes to converting third-downs, converting 50.5% pf the time. On the flip side, the 49ers are ranked 31st in the league at giving up third-downs. Opponents covert 49.5% of the time on third-down against the San Fran defense - if the 49ers can't get off-the-field, they are going to have a real tough time stealing a win today.
The Pick: Eagles 34, 49ers 17
KC's Keys to the game vs the 49ers