Sunday Night Football betting preview. 49ers vs Eagles

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The Eagles come into this game having gone winless in their first three starts. Philly has lost rather convincingly to the Rams and Washington and could only manage a tie last week against the improved, but still very underwhelming Bengals (at home). The Eagles have issues everywhere but their biggest problem lies under center. Carson Wentz has regressed in terrible fashion so far, posting a 59% accuracy rating and a 63.9 QB rating in 2020. 

San Francisco 49ers -323  (-7.5) vs. Philadelphia Eagles +260 (+7.5): Total 46.5

Wentz’s numbers are so bad that he’s actually playing worse than he was in his rookie season when he completed just 16 TDs and added 14 INTs. It’s not just poor play that has the Eagles down a wing right now though, injuries are also killing them. TE Dallas Goedert and WR Desean Jackson have now both been ruled out for this game, giving Wentz even fewer weapons to work with this week. While this situation looks bleaker than a Charles Dicken novel, there is good news for Philly fans to hang their hat. Despite the poor play, the team remains just one win out of first place and, with Dallas also struggling with injuries and poor defensive play, the Division title race is still wide open.

Philly may be huge underdogs here but they are getting San Francisco at an opportune time. The 49ers will again be without Jimmy Garropolo at QB, which means Nick Mullens will get another start. Mullens did well picking apart a weak Giants secondary last week, posting a surprising 343 yards in the air. While the Eagles are struggling almost everywhere, they’ve still been one of the better teams at bringing pressure, ranking fifth in adjusted sack-rate so far on defense. Mullens will be getting WR Deebo Samuels and TE George Kittle back for this game, with Samuel likely playing in a limited role after just getting off the IR list this week. 

While the 49ers are getting healthier on offense, they’re going the wrong way on defense. San Fan will be down their top two cornerbacks in this game with Richard Sherman (IR) and Ahkello Witherspoon both ruled out already. The Eagles will be starting Greg Ward at WR this week and don’t have a ton of great outside options outside him so the injury issues for the 49ers in the secondary may not end up being that big of a factor. 

From an Against the Spread perspective, the 49ers haven’t necessarily been world-beaters in these kinds of spots in the last couple of years. They’re just 5-5 ATS as home favorites since the beginning of last season, while the Eagles have gone 2-2 as a way underdogs since the beginning of 2019. Both teams are beat up but this does feel like a big number to cover for a team who is starting a backup QB against an opponent that had a projected (seasonal) win total of O/U 9.5 just four weeks ago in the Eagles. 

From a total perspective, both teams are 2-1 to the over side through three games. The Eagles rank fifth-last in points scored per game thus far, and relying on them to score here seems risky after a beat up 49ers defense still managed to keep their last two opponents to under 14-points. The injuries on defense have continued to pile up for San Francisco though so perhaps this is the week the bough finally breaks. 

The Line Movement NFL Show: Island Games

Key injuries

Eagles: Dallas Goedert TE (Out), Alshon Jeffrey WR (out), DeSean Jackson WR (out), Jason Peters G (Questionable), Miles Sanders RB (Questionable), Lane Johnson T (Questionable), Jack Driscoll T (Questionable)

49ers: Jimmy Garoppolo QB (Out), Raheem Mostert RB (Questionable), George Kittle TE (Probable), Dee Ford DE (Questionable), Emmanuel Moseley CB (out), K’Waun Williams CB (Questionable), Nick Bosa DL (Out), CB Ahkello Witherspoon (out)

Eagles offense vs 49ers defense

Both of these units are injured to the tilt for Week 4. The Eagles wide receiver depth chart reads like this: Greg Ward, John Hightower… (crickets). The team will certainly promote a couple of practice squad players (Deontay Burnett and Travis Fulgham) but Ward is the only one on the roster to have seen any significant playing time with QB Carson Wentz. 

It’s not all bad news here though, Ward has been quietly productive with Philly, turning 11-targets into 8 rec. 72 yards and a TD vs. the Bengals. He could easily be in for another big week here too. 

The 49ers pass defense has been terrific again in 2020, ceding just 182 yards per game. That’s all well and good but, defensively, they are also at critical mass in terms of injuries. San Francisco’s top-3 cornerbacks are all out here, along with star pass-rusher Nick Bosa, who’s lost for the season.

What the 49ers do on defense is often correlated to what they do on offense. If they can keep moving the ball, the backups in play here won’t be under much pressure. There is a path for the Eagles to move the ball here though. RB Miles Sanders and Zach Ertz are both healthy and Sanders has been able to move the ball for Philly, averaging 5 ypc over his last two games. If he can keep up close to that kind of production here it would take pressure off an Eagles O-Line that has allowed the fourth-most sacks against in the league thus far.

It sounds strange, but a lot of how this match-up transpires may depend on the SF offense. If they keep controlling the ball for large periods of the game it will force more dropbacks for Wentz which has been a recipe for disaster thus far in Philly. 

49ers offense vs Eagles defense

As mentioned above, one area that has stood out in this mostly horrible start for the Eagles is their pass rush. So far they rank fifth in adjusted-sack rate (according to Football Outsiders) and have recorded the third most sacks as a unit in the league. Nick Mullens faced a Giants pass-rush last week that was virtually non-existent but could be under more pressure here. For that reason, George Kittle returning this week is a big boost. The TE is in a decent spot for a big return game considering the Eagles have already yielded three TDs to the TE position in 2020. 

The 49ers are also banged up at RB but, as we saw last week, the team’s depth at this position is virtually unmatched at the moment. Jerick McKinnon and Jeff Wilson formed a fantastic tandem against a decent Giants rush defense and should be similarly effective here. If they can move the ball with near the same efficiency as last week the 49ers will have a shot at maintaining their massive time of possession advantage. So far the 49ers rank 3rd in TOP in the league, holding the ball at over 33-minutes per game. 

The 49ers will also be getting some help on the outside here as Deebo Samuel is set to return. Don’t expect him to make a huge impact though as Kyle Shannahan has already stated that he’ll be somewhat limited in his first game back. He’ll likely be on some kind of snap count but adds another wrinkle that the beleaguered Philly defense will now have to prepare for. 

The Eagles improved their secondary last season, adding Darius Slay to the mix, but they’ve allowed some big plays in the first three weeks, including two TDs last week to rookie Tee Higgins, and a 10-catch, 125 yard day to Tyler Boyd. If this group could come up with a turnover or two against a backup QB, it could easily end up being the difference in this game. For Philly to win, they’ll likely need someone on defense to become a one-day hero. 

Game and prop bets

The line this week opened at -6 to -6.5 in favour of the 49ers at most places. It’s moved around a bit (to as high as -7.5 in spots) and currently sits at -7 to -7.5 at most places. As bad as the Eagles have looked thus far, this line still feels massive to me. The 49ers haven’t been particularly great at covering big spreads over the last few games and, dating back to last year, have now allowed the Cardinals and Falcons to beat them outright in two of their last three home games–despite the 49ers being massive favorites in both those spots. 

The Eagles are banged up but they’re still getting pressure. That should make life tougher for Nick Mullens who, admittedly, is a pretty huge wildcard here. If he plays as well as he did last week, it’s doubtful that Carson Wentz has it in him to overcome this matchup but, if Mullens regresses a bit, the Eagles will likely just need Wentz to be average against a 49ers defense who is missing multiple big names. I like Philly to keep this close and possibly pull off the upset, but the cover is the bet here for me. 

Bet: Philadelphia Eagles +7.5

Player prop bets:

Greg Ward over 48.5 yards

Ward played 84% of the snaps last week and he may not come off the field in Week 5. The 25-year-old has been with the Philly system for two years now and has started to develop a connection with Carson Wentz. He went over 40-yards receiving in Philly’s last three games of 2019. Even if Wentz has another uneven game, Ward will be going up against backup corners here which could lead to a big play or two. Going into Week 4, San Francisco had allowed the fourth-most receptions to wide receivers in the league so opportunity will likely be there for Ward to smash this number over. 

Carson Wentz over 22.5 passing Completions 

The Eagles have been throwing a ton on offense to start the year, averaging 44-attempts per game thus far. Wentz’s efficiency hasn’t been great–he’s under 60% completion rate–but the injuries to the 49ers secondary here could factor into a bit better efficiency. Expect the Eagles to be working mostly short and intermediate routes as well to help keep Wentz upright. He targeted RBs and TEs 23 times last game and should have a great shot at hitting the over here if he continues to play it safe with a high volume of short throws. 

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