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October 25, 2017

Eagles would be wise to beware the heavy underdog

In case you've been living in a cave for the last week or so, the Philadelphia Eagles have the best record in the NFL, and are cruising toward a playoff berth. They are 6-1, and on Sunday will be facing one of the two remaining winless teams in the league, the 0-7 San Francisco 49ers.

The Birds are favored by 13 points, the most they've been favored by in a game since 2011, when they were 14-point favorites over the Arizona Cardinals.

They lost that game to freaking John Skelton, who threw for 315 yards and 3 TDs. In fact, dating back to 2006, the Eagles are 5-5 when they have been double-digit favorites, and have lost four of their last six.

 YearMatchup Point spread  
2006 Packers at Eagles Eagles -10.5 Win 31-9 
2006 Titans at Eagles Eagles -13 Loss 13-31 
2008 Browns at Eagles Eagles -14 Win 30-10 
2009 Buccaneers at Eagles Eagles -15 Win 33-14 
2009 Eagles at Raiders Eagles -14 Loss 9-13 
2010 Vikings at Eagles Eagles -14 Loss 14-24 
2010 Cowboys at Eagles Eagles -12 Loss 13-14 
2011 Cardinals at Eagles Eagles -14 Loss 17-21 
2014 Jaguars at Eagles Eagles -10.5 Win 34-17 
2014 Titans at Eagles Eagles -11 Win 43-24

A quick look back at each of those losses:

2006: Titans at Eagles (-13): This was the game in which Donovan McNabb tore his ACL. Jeff Garcia filled in and would eventually lead the Eagles to the playoffs, but the Birds went down hard to a Titans defense led by Jim Schwartz, and an offense led by Vince Young.

2009: Eagles (-14) at Raiders: The Eagles were absolutely dreadful in this game, falling to the Jamarcus Russell-led Raiders. It is probably best remembered for the special teams playing pigeon.

2010: Vikings at Eagles (-14): The Eagles were riding a hot Michael Vick into this matchup, when a winter storm caused it to be postponed until Tuesday. A bad 5-9 Vikings team led by Joe freaking Webb came in and beat the Eagles in Philly.

2010: Cowboys at Eagles (-12): The very next week after the Tuesday debacle was a meaningless Week 17 game, as the Eagles were headed to the playoffs and were locked into their seed, so they played their backups. The Cowboys started Stephen McGee, hence the 12-point line, I suppose, but this loss was no big deal.

• 2011: Cardinals at Eagles (-14): The Cardinals were forced to play the aforementioned third-string quarterback John Skelton, who put up 300-plus yards and 3 TDs on the Eagles, basically putting a nail in the coffin of their Dream Team season.

So to recap, the Eagles lost to John Skelton, Stephen McGee, Joe Webb, Jamarcus Russell, and Vince Young. This Sunday they'll face 49ers starting quarterback C.J. Beathard.

"Nobody looks past anybody," said Jim Schwartz on Wednesday. "Everybody understand this league. We have a good group of veteran players and we've faced a couple teams this year that came in with no wins. It doesn't change the job that we have. 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."

The Eagles would be wise to remember the past, and not have Sunday be remembered as "the C.J. Beathard game."

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