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September 18, 2021

Five over/unders for Eagles' Week 2 matchup vs. 49ers

Eagles NFL

The Eagles will be back in action on Sunday against the 49ers as both teams look to improve to 2-0 on the young season.

For the Birds, the game will serve as their home opener, one in which Lincoln Financial Field will be full for the first time since 2019, and that has to be a point in Philly's favor as Nick Sirianni, DeVonta Smith and even Jalen Hurts and some other second-year players will get their first taste of the full Philly fan experience. 

That, combined with the injuries on the San Francisco side, has made this game nearly a 50-50 proposition in the minds of many expert prognosticators, but that hasn't translated over to the sports books. When you look at the odds for Eagles vs. 49ers, the Birds remain a three-point home underdog despite some things clearly working in their favor. 

The game, however, isn't played on paper, and although we can make picks and predictions all we want, we won't really know how things are going to play out until these two teams kick off at 1 p.m. on Sunday. But that won't stop us from trying. Without any further ado, here's a look at five numbers to watch in this Week 2 matchup in the form of our weekly over/unders...

[A quick reminder for those new to our over/unders: Unless explicitly stated otherwise, these are my own numbers based on how I think the players/teams will perform on Sunday — and the advice that follows is where I would put my money if I had to.]

Total points: 49.5

Some outlets have Eagles-49ers point total as low as 48.5, but it seems like the majority have it at 49 or 49.5, so that's the number we'll go with for this one, meaning we'd need to see 50 points to hit the over. That ... sounds like a lot, especially after a much lower number in Week 1, one the Eagles easily hit the under on thanks to a stellar day from their defense. But things likely won't be as easy in Week 2 going against the 49ers offense, even with Raheem Mostert out. George Kittle (more on him in a bit) absolutely torched the Eagles last season and nearly beat the Birds on his own. And that was with Nick Mullens under center. Now, the Eagles will also have to deal with Jimmy Garoppolo as well. 

That being said, against the Lions a week ago, the 49ers allowed 33 points and scored 41 of their own, meaning the over here is certainly not out of the question. 

Even with the 49ers secondary in question, I think the Eagles are going to try to stick to a similar game plan as last week given its success and try to utilize shorter passes (with some more deep shots sprinkled in, of course) and then the run game in the second half if they are able to get a lead. That could lead to the clock running a lot more, and ultimately a lower scoring affair. I've got the final at 47 points and five of our seven writers are picking the under here, so that's where I'm going.


Jalen Hurts' completion percentage: 65.5

After completing just 52 percentage of his passes under Doug Pederson, Jalen Hurts completed them at a 77.1% clip in the opener of the Nick Sirianni Era against the Falcons, and much was made of that given the dramatic year-over-year improvement for the second-year passer. Moreover, that number, as we've written about on here a few times this week, was skewed because Hurts' average target depth was the shortest of any Week 1 QB.

Some people saw that as a knock on Hurts. Other saw it as a plus for Sirianni, showing that the first-time head coach knows how to play to his players' strengths rather than trying to mold them to awkwardly fit into his own system. That was something we saw up and down the offense in Week 1, from how the team used Quez Watkins and Jalen Reagor in the screen game to how they used their running backs to, yes, how they used their quarterback. Offensive coordinator Shane Steichen and Sirianni both said all those short passes were the result of the Falcons taking away the deep threats, and while that may be the case to some extent, that's not going to be an excuse they can use week in and week out. 

At some point they're going to have to take some shots down the field to keep opposing defenses honest. We think that starts in Week 2, especially if the tape from the Falcons game has DeMeco Ryans' defense focusing on snuffing out short throws and daring the Eagles to try to beat them deep. Deep passes (usually) equal more incompletions. And, honestly, even if Hurts comes a little back down to earth in his completion percentage, it won't be the end of the world. That's how good he was in Week 1. Will he drop more than 10 percentage points? We're going to say that since it seems like the Eagles are putting a premium on this number for Hurts, they're going to make sure to try to keep him over 65 percent by continuing with a healthy dose of short passes and just a few hopefully well-timed deep passes mixed in.


DeVonta Smith receiving TDs: 0.5

The rookie turned some heads with a stellar performance in Week 1, and we're not just talking about his touchdown reception. Smith ran clean routes, constantly beat his defender and even brought a healthy dose of blocking in the ground and screen game. That's exactly what you want to see out of your No. 1 receiver — and to see all that not just out of a rookie but out of a guy making his NFL debut had to be a great feeling for the Birds, who have been searching for an answer at the position for several years. 

So, what does a Week 2 matchup against an injury-plagued 49ers secondary have in store? Probably another big game, this one coming in front of a home crowd. And while I'm going to predict that Smith doesn't find the end zone in this one, I do think it could be another first for the Heisman winner: his first 100-yard performance. I could see Smith finishing with eight catches for 102 yards but he'll come up just short of hitting pay dirt. That being said, I'm fully prepared for this one to be wrong.


George Kittle receiving yards: 68.5

I was going to set this number at 99.5 and still would've considered taking the over. But the real number over at FanDuel is actually just 68.5, and I honestly can't believe it's that low. I know the Eagles did a decent job against Kyle Pitts and Hayden Hurst in Week 1, but the pair still combined for eight catches for 59 yards. Not a big game by any stretch of the imagination, but neither of those guys are George Kittle (not yet, at least). And after seeing what Kittle did to the Eagles last season — he had arguably the best game of his career, catching all 15 of his targets for 183 yards and a touchdown — it's hard to see the Eagles shutting him down in this one.


Eagles rushing yards allowed: 99.5

The Eagles rushing defense had been one of its strengths year after year under Jim Schwartz. But that was not the case in Week 1 against the Falcons in Jonathan Gannon's first game running the D. And if it hadn't been for the Birds building a big lead and forcing Atlanta to go pass-heavy in the second half, it might've been even worse. Their tackling looked suspect to say the least, and the number of times the Falcons backs were hitting the second level (and beyond) was concerning, as was the 4.8 yards per carry that they averaged. 

Hopefully the Birds can be better this week against a 49ers team that will be without its top rushing option in Raheem Mostert, who is going to be sidelined for the better part of the season after injuring his knee last week and opting for surgery over rest and recovery. Elijah Mitchell broke the century mark against the Lions after Mostert left the game early, finishing with 104 yards on 19 carries (5.5 YPA) and a touchdown. The Niners as a whole finished with 131 rushing yards, but that came against the Lions, who weren't great against the run last year.

Even without Mostert, expect a healthy serving of the ground game from Kyle Shanahan on Sunday, unless of course his team gets down early. But since we see this being a close game, we're going to take the over here. 


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