How 49ers can exploit Eagles' biggest flaw to win NFC title game, per Greg Papa
Papa lays out 49ers' blueprint to beat Eagles in NFC title game originally appeared on NBC Sports Bayarea
It will take an all-around team effort for the 49ers to defeat the top-seeded Philadelphia Eagles in the NFC Championship Game on Sunday, but 49ers broadcaster Greg Papa believes it’s possible.
“They’re better than [the] Dallas [Cowboys],” Papa said on the latest “Aka Papa” segment. “This is the best team the 49ers have faced since [the] Kansas City [Chiefs] and maybe they’re the best. Now you got to go play them at their place, but when I look at it, they are beatable.”
While Papa has been impressed with the Eagles (15-3) this season, he thinks the 49ers (15-4) can exploit one of their weaknesses to pull off the win and advance to Super Bowl LVII.
Philadelphia got off to a hot 8-0 start to the 2022 NFL season, and their first loss didn’t come until Week 10 against the Washington Commanders.
“The offensive blueprint on how to beat them was their first loss of the year,” Papa said. “It was a Monday night game against the Washington Commanders. Washington ran it 41 times with 21 third downs.
“Washington just ran all over them and they were able to play keep away, I think they had the ball for over 40 minutes. I think there’s vulnerability to be able to run at them the way Washington did that night.”
Philadelphia’s run defense struggled after defensive tackle Jordan Davis went down with an ankle injury in Week 8. The Eagles signed NFL veterans Ndamukong Suh and Linval Joseph to boost their D-line, and while their run defense has improved, it has still been their biggest weakness.
The Eagles’ other two losses came consecutively against the Dallas Cowboys in Week 16 and against the New Orleans Saints in Week 17, where they gave up more than 115 yards in both games, respectively.
“Ndamukong Suh is not the same player he was. He’s still good and they got depth. But I think you can still run at them,” Papa said. “It may take the 49ers a way to figure it out. So I look at what’s the offensive blueprint to beat them. November 14, I think the date was, Monday night game against Washington.”
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On the season, the Eagles allowed 121.6 rushing yards per game, which ranked 16th in the league.
The 49ers will be the perfect test for the Eagles' run defense thanks to playmakers like Christian McCaffrey, Deebo Samuel and Elijah Mitchell. San Francisco coach Kyle Shanahan's run-heavy offensive scheme has worked well for the 49ers thus far, and has made rookie quarterback Brock Purdy's job much easier since taking over under center.
While there's very little that the Eagles don't do at a high level, if the 49ers can take advantage of their biggest -- and perhaps only -- weakness, San Francisco could be headed to Glendale, Ariz., for a chance to bring the Vince Lombardi trophy back to the Bay.
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