AUTHOR: Star Sports Content

STAR NFL PREVIEW Sun: San Francisco 49ers @ Philadelphia Eagles

If this game is as good as the Eagles overtime win against the Bills was last week then we are in for a treat and it’s hardly surprising that this game is being billed as the Game Of The Season, let’s hope that it lives up to the hype.

This was the NFC game to circle when the schedule was released in the spring and it would appear that that circle would be bigger and even more important now given the position of these two teams with the NFC hierarchy. The most common narrative around this game will be that it’s a rematch of the last season’s NFC Championship Game which never really seemed a fair fight after 49ers QB Brock Purdy got injured in the first quarter and the Eagles eased to a 31-7 win before losing narrowly in the Super Bowl to the Chiefs.

The Eagles (10-1) are right in the heart of their hardest part of their schedule and having possibly put paid to the Bills playoffs hope last week they will be trying to do the same to their main NFC rival here, with the Cowboys, another main foe, and the Seahawks to follow in subsequent weeks. Without doubt the path to the No1 seed in the NFC lies in their own hands with a key tiebreaker in playoff seeding being that Philadelphia are 6-0 in NFC games while San Francisco are 6-1.

A loss by the Eagles would make next week’s showdown with the Cowboys a game for the NFC East division lead.


Four teams have had 10-or-more wins through their first 11 games following a Super Bowl loss and the Eagles find themselves 10-1 for a second consecutive season, becoming the fourth team in NFL history to win at least 10 of its first 11 games in consecutive years.

With the respective records of the two teams, it’s therefore quite strange to see price the road team 49ers as favourites on the Money Line at 8-13. The last time a 1-loss team this late in the season was a home underdog was when the 16-1 Steelers were a 3-point home underdog to the Patriots in the 2004 AFC Championship Game. However, the 49ers have been a more statistically dominant team than the Eagles this season, despite losing 3 games. Both teams have scored 310 points, but the 49ers have allowed 76 fewer points, which is basically a whole touchdown per game.

The fact that the Eagles are 9-1 in close games and have already had four double-digit comebacks this year also plays into the way the odds are framed. Note that the 49ers have won their last 3 games by at least 2 touchdowns and Cincinnati are the only team to have scored more than 23 points against them. But the underdog role is something Philadelphia and their partisan and hostile crowd is sure to embrace, especially at home. The Eagles have a league-best 7-1 record when trailing this season, which includes a 5-0 record when trailing at halftime.

Teams that have lost their conference championship games have rebounded the following seasons to win five of the last 11 Super Bowls. Could the San Francisco (8-3) be next?

Both defences have a clear “path of least resistance” with the numbers indicating that the Philadelphia running game and 49ers passing game are in the best spots this week.

San Francisco QB Brock Purdy who was injured in that NFC Championship Game last season was having his credentials questioned a few weeks ago when the 49ers lost three consecutive games but he voices of discontent appear to have quietened now as Purdy has shredded the Jags, Bucs, and Seahawks D’s in the past three weeks for a 75% completion rate and 7:1 TD-to-INT ratio, and 10.4 yards per pass attempt. He has a healthy offence at his disposal and plenty to work with at the skill positions behind an elite offensive line, all of which goes to make up possibly the most matchup proof offence in the NFL.

Purdy has presided over an offence that in their eight wins has scored at least 27 points each time and 30 plus in all bar one of those victories. Purdy looks a sporting play at 11-1 in the special market “Most Passing Yards on Sunday”.

The 49ers run the ball at the highest rate in the NFL but are just a little below the middle of the pack in pass rate over expectation but that offensive balance has a lot to do with the way their game scripts have played out this year and the field position their defence has presented them with. This week they face the Eagles, who have one of the league’s top run defences that has slowed down many units this season but that is unlikely to stop the 49ers trying to run the ball via Christian McCaffrey (CMC) who kept up his elite production on Thanksgiving, turning 24 touches into 139 yards and two touchdowns. McCaffrey leads the NFL with 16 touchdowns and now has scored 30 touchdowns in 25 games since he joined San Francisco.

It was the fourth straight game that McCaffrey posted over 100 yards from scrimmage despite it being the first time that he rushed for 100 yards in a game since Week 4. Make no mistake this is a tough matchup for the 49ers run game but in the past few weeks the Eagles mask of invincibility has started to slip – they allowed 126 yards to the Kansas City backs two weeks ago and then 167 yards to Buffalo backs last week. CMC is almost matchup proof and looks sure to have another big game especially with the Eagles having injuries at linebacker.

Purdy has a chance to unleash his receivers against an Eagles defence that has already allowed 30 touchdowns this season although they have done a good job of limiting big plays, the only touchdown longer than 27 yards against the Eagles was Jordan Addison’s 62-yard touchdown in Week 2. The 49ers passing game is an efficient one and it’s built around the tactic of getting the ball in the hands of the playmakers they have and letting things happen from there although it will be interesting to see how much he’s allowed to throw; Purdy has thrown more than 31 passes just once this season. WR Deebo Samuel, TE George Kittle and CMC are all adept at creating space, time, and yards after the catch but the most dangerous and most effective of the 49ers receivers shapes up to be Brandon Aiyuk who is Purdy’s favourite target. Aiyuk leads the NFL in yards per target (13.8), Air Yards per target (14.8), and yards per reception (19.6), establishing himself as one of the NFL’s premier vertical weapons.

Add in the fact that the Eagles have struggled against outside receivers and as his numbers show Aiyuk could be set for another big game here. Aiyuk is playing 83.2% of his snaps on the outside and that’s where the Eagles have been vulnerable all year. The Eagles are allowing 9.6 receptions per game to outside receivers (30th) and a league-high 7.7% touchdown rate to those receivers. Aiyuk has a TD in three straight games so the 13-8 with on him to continue that streak looks worth considering here, he could also exceed his receiving yards line set at +64.5 (10-11).

The Eagles offensively are like the horror film villain who you just can’t kill off and they keep coming back at you even when they don’t appear to playing that well. The fact remains that they have scored at least 28 points in every home game this year and have enough weapons on offence to match the 49ers. The one vital piece that will be returning to the Eagles offensive line this week is right tackle Lane Johnson and controlling the line of scrimmage will be key to the Philadelphia game plan.


The 49ers defence has been very aggressive of late recording 15 sacks in the last three games and it’s hard to find an immediate weakness in the unit but Eagles QB Jalen Hurts gives them a different problem to face being very mobile and especially dangerous around the goal line due to the Eagles almost impossible to stop “Brotherly Shove” or “Tush Push”. D’Andre Swift enters Week 13 with 15+ touches in 10 straight games and coming off the back of a game where the Bills dared the Eagles to run the ball and Swift and his cohorts obliged to the tune of 185 yards on the ground. This is a more difficult draw but Swift still remains a relevant piece of the offence with his pass catching ability sure to come into play this week.

Perhaps the biggest weakness in the 49ers defence comes in their secondary and the Eagles will want to force the 49ers to use more man coverage than zone as that would favour their main wide receiver A.J. Brown. Brown who leads the NFL in receiving yards and receiving touchdowns against man looks, having had a few quiet weeks since setting an NFL record for consecutive games with 125 or more receiving yards looks one who could burst back into life here. Since the injury to tight end Dallas Goedert, wide receiver DeVonta Smith has had a bigger role and with Goedert not back until next week Smith will continue to be an integral part of the Eagles offence. Smith stayed hot last Sunday, securing 7-of-8 targets for 106 yards and a touchdown. When the Eagles throw, the ball is going to these Smith or Brown nearly two-thirds of the time.

There are plenty of similarities between this game and last week’s Bills/Eagles contest and if we get a game half as good it will be a cracker. Both sides have solid defences and offences that can score points quickly but neither will want to be over aggressive and turn the ball over especially when you consider this statistic – the 49ers are since 2022 are 23-1 with 0-1 giveaways, 0-7 with 2+ giveaways. The 49ers are hard to catch when they build up a lead and they may try and do so as they won’t want to be behind in the last quarter as the 49ers under Shanahan (since 2017) are 0-37 when trailing by at least 8 points in the 4th quarter, the only team without a win in that time. They also know the comeback ability of the Eagles as well as their propensity to have the edge in close games.

This isn’t a playoff game, but it should have a playoff atmosphere. Both teams come in with a lot on the line and with MVP candidates at quarterback. This game could even turn that race over to the winner. Four consecutive Philadelphia games have gone over the game total, the longest ongoing streak in the league. Games in Philadelphia are averaging a league-high 59.4 combined points per game and this has all the ingredients to turn into another classic shootout. Under Eagles head coach Nick Sirianni since 2021, when the Eagles are at home, the over is 16-8 (66.7%), the highest hit rate in the league and the 11-2 about this game being the “Highest Scoring Game On Sunday” in the special markets is firmly in play.


BACK Over 5.5 Match Touchdowns 1pt at Evens (⭐ ? CLICK TO BET NOW)
BACK Brock Purdy over +254.5 passing yards 1pt at 10/11 (⭐ ? CLICK TO BET NOW)
BACK Brandon Aiyuk over +64.5 receiving yards 1pt at 10/11 (⭐ ? CLICK TO BET NOW)
BACK A.J Brown over +73.5 receiving yards 1pt at 10/11 (⭐ ? CLICK TO BET NOW)
BACK Jalen Hurts to score a TD anytime 2pts at Evens (⭐ ? CLICK TO BET NOW)

PROFIT/LOSS (DEC 2023): PROFIT 7.22 points



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