San Francisco 49ers

Vegas thinks 1-2 49ers will get back to .500 against 3-0 Eagles

49ers Greg Roman throwing

It’s worse than anyone could’ve expected. The 49ers have performed so poorly in their first three games that they’ve been removed from the NFL entirely.

Via ESPN:

NFC standings

The Phoenix area is growing quickly, but can that market support two teams? Maybe so, if both teams continue winning at this clip.

Haha, what a knee-slapper. Refresh the page, please.

OK, fine.

NFC Standings after Week 3 2014

Seven teams currently have a better record than the 49ers, eight if the Bears win tonight on the road against the Jets. There is still a lot of football left, marathon not sprint, etc. But the 49ers might find themselves scanning the rules for tiebreakers at the end of the year if they continue to muddle through the first half of this season.

This isn’t to say the 49ers are done, or that they aren’t talented enough to make the playoffs for the fourth straight year. The problem is that after three weeks, we can probably count only two NFC teams that clearly are pretty rotten: the Rams and Buccaneers. The Vikings and Giants are teetering on the edge for various reasons. That’s pretty much it, unless we’re all in agreement that Dallas is ripe for a fall.

Like a year ago, the 49ers can calm everyone down with a win in Week 4 to get back to .500. The people who set the lines think they’ll do that, as the 49ers are 4.5-point home favorites against the Eagles, a team that’s gone about things in a completely different way through the season’s first three weeks. The 49ers have been building first half leads and riding out the clock in the second half (with mixed results), while the Eagles have triumphed in the face of double-digit first half deficits in all three wins.

The Eagles are 26th in the NFL at 386 yards allowed per game, and 26.0 points allowed per game puts them in a tie with the Colts for 26th. Chip Kelly’s team is carried by an offense that averages 419 yards per game (sixth) and 33.7 ppg (second). The Eagles, Colts and Falcons are pretty much the same team: throw the ball like crazy in hopes of winning their weekly shootouts.

If the 49ers can’t score some second half points on Sunday against this squad, it’s time to panic. But after some time to contemplate the carnage we saw in Glendale yesterday, I’m fairly confident the 49ers will score at least 24-27 points. Not only is Philly’s defense probably mediocre at best, but the 49ers have put a lot of stuff on film for the Eagles to worry about. Everyone knows the 49ers have it in them to run between the tackles, but now teams have to prepare for hurry-up, five-wide, two different running backs, and a new receiver in Stevie Johnson who didn’t accumulate multiple 1,000-yard seasons by accident. This is all assuming Vernon Davis returns, of course. Without Davis, opposing safeties can safely focus their attention to the area within 20 yards of the line of scrimmage.

The 49ers’ pass rush and secondary could be in trouble, however. The Eagles are averaging over 300 yards passing. Jeremy Maclin is fifth in the league in receiving yardage and Darren Sproles is 24th (the 49ers’ leading receiver, Michael Crabtree, is 29th). Luckily for the 49ers, the Eagles haven’t featured a strong rushing offense — just 108.7 yards per game and 3.8 yards per carry. Contrast that with the 49ers, who have … 112 rushing yards per game and 4.1 ypc, which drops to 69 ypg and 3.8 ypc if you take out Colin Kaepernick’s rushing stats.

The sample sizes are small, and the intangibles could come into play. The 49ers can’t fall to 0-2 at Levi’s and 1-3 overall, and the Eagles don’t need to win this game considering their record and the state of the NFC East. Jim Harbaugh’s squad has generally performed well in regular season games like this, and that should continue as long as they get a key player or two back and cut down on the penalties.

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