The NFC Championship game against the San Francisco 49ers is fastly approaching. Here is the five keys to an Eagles Victory against the 49ers.
5. Start Fast
This game has a chance to become a defensive slug fest. Many thought that the Divisional Round matchup against the Giants would be close, but the Eagles high flying offense had other plans. Jalen Hurts came out of the locker room and threw a 40 yard heave to DeVonta Smith to set the tone of the game.
Philadelphia needs to start this Championship game in a similar fashion. If Hurts and the offense fly down the field for an opening drive touchdown, (like they have for most of the season) then that puts all of the pressure on Mr. Irrelevant Brock Purdy.
What may be the most important thing to look out for in the first quarter is Philly’s rushing attack. The 49ers have the No.1 rushing defense in the league. They held both Ezekiel Elliott and Tony Pollard under four yards per rush last week. The Eagles crushed New York with the run game in the Divisional Round and will try to do the same to the Niners if possible.
4. Win the Turnover Battle
This one should be obvious and not much has to be said about it, but it is still a crucial part of the outcome. Both of these teams are top three in the NFL in turnover differential, with the 49ers sitting at No.1 (+13) and the Eagles at No.3 (+8).
In all three of the games that the Eagles lost this season they lost the turnover battle. And with San Fran’s defense coming into town this week, this stat line is as crucial as ever. This game can come down to a strip sack or one bad throw. The Eagles need to play mistake free football against this defense in order to move on.
3. Win in the Trenches
San Francisco and Philadelphia are the two most physical teams in the NFL, and that physicality starts up front. The 49ers defensive line versus the Eagles offensive line will be the matchup of the game.
Philly’s offensive line has yet to meet their match this season, especially right tackle Lane Johnson who hasn’t given up a sack all year. Last week the 49ers only found the quarterback once which doesn’t seem to be an issue for the Eagles. But, Johnson and Jordan Mailata are set to face off against the All-Pro defensive end Nick Bosa.
Not only is keeping Jalen Hurts upright a must in this game, but establishing the run is an absolute must this week. Most of the Eagles offense is either the run game or part of it. The big guys up front have to continue their run of dominance against the Niners ferocious front seven.
Bosa can be a game wrecker and it is up to those two to slow him down.
2. Capitalize from Purdy’s Mistakes
Brock Purdy has been a great story so far. But he isn’t entirely free from his mistakes. Last week against the Cowboys, a potential game-changing interception was dropped by Trevon Diggs. And during the Wild-Card game against the Seahawks, Purdy seemed nervous as he wildly overthrew his first pass.
During Purdy’s time at Iowa State once one mistake happened they started to pile up. The Eagles secondary have not missed out on many opportunities this season and that wont change during Sunday’s game. Darius Slay and company will be eagerly awaiting a chance at the ball.
He was drafted last for a reason.
1. Jalen Hurts
Out of the five keys to victory for the Eagles over the 49ers that I pointed out this one is the most important. When Jalen Hurts was taken in the second round to the Philadelphia Eagles many fans were angry and confused. But, this season Hurts has proved all of his doubters wrong. He is an MVP candidate and the Eagles greatest weapon.
The 49ers played two quarterbacks who are somewhat similar to Jalen Hurts. Those players being Justin Fields and Marcus Mariota. Both of those games the 49ers lost. And let’s be real for a second, Jalen Hurts is a whole lot better than those other guys.
Hurts has the ability to embarrass the NFL’s best rush defense while throwing for 300 and change. If the Eagles are going to clinch a Super Bowl appearance it will be via the back of No.1.
Fly Eagles Fly!