I re-watched the Eagles/Giants game last night, and there are a few key elements that I identified that could play into the 49ers favor in this Sunday's game:
1) Statistically, the Eagles are a top 10 run defense...but they consistently were beaten up inside by the Giants running game. Their ends are top flight...but their tackles are marginal at best.
2) The Eagles have very pedestrian defensive backs. Their safety play was so-so last week, and their corners...including Asante Samuel...are good, but unspectacular. They will have to run the nickel all day if they want to cover Vernon Davis.
3) The Eagles pass rush is nothing special. If they gear up to stop the run, they will be VERY vulnerable in the air. Look for the Eagles to try blitzing...a lot...out of their big sub look.
Some things the Niners MUST do to win:
1) Set the edge on defense...force their tackles to take their first step back and wide...this will force McCoy (and Vick, on occasion) inside, which is right where we want them...and where Patrick Willis and Takeo Spikes want them too.
2) Give their wide outs a consistent diet of press coverage. McNabb relies on timing to hit his guys...especially DeShaun Jackson. This will allow Goldson to do what he does best...headhunt.
3) Give the Eagles a steady diet of Frank Gore, with some play action to Vernon Davis on the side. Their defense cannot stop Davis if they play base...this will work wonders for Frank...especially if we run play action passes that isolate their DBs. This will end up giving Frank the kind of room he had last Monday night.
The game is far from a shoo in...and the Niners will have to contend with a very loud crowd, a cross country flight, and inclement weather...but they are far from out of it if they play the way they did Monday night.