By Dylan MacKinnon
Emotions will be high in Philly for the Eagles home opener vs the 49ers. Especially coming off their week 1 blowout of the Falcons. Nick Sirianni’s first game coaching the Eagles at home, Devonta Smith’s first game in front of the Eagles crowd as well. The Linc will be packed to the rafters with fans itching to see some live Eagles football for the first time in a while after being denied it all last year. But what should those fans expect to see. Can this team ride the high of week 1 into a 2-0 start? Was that victory more the Eagles being good, or was it them beating up on a bad opponent? The 49ers have been seen as one of the contenders in the NFC this year, so there would be no downplaying a victory over them. Here are the Four Biggest storylines heading into Week 2 vs the 49ers.
Fans Back at The Linc
For the first time since 2019, Lincoln Financial Field will be at full capacity for an Eagles game. Last year due to Covid Protocols only a few games had fans in attendance, and in those games attendance was limited. 2020 was the first time since the 2015 season the Eagles had a losing home record. Between 2016 and 2019 seasons, Eagles went 23-9 in home games. Over that same time period, they were 15-17 on the road.
It will also be the first home game for a few people on the Eagles, as I already mentioned. Nick Sirianni talked about his excitement for his first home game when he met with reporters on Wednesday.
“I’m excited, definitely, to get this home crowd behind us. What a great football city this is. Fans are the best in the NFL. So of course like you see the challenges that are posed to you when you go to another home field, right. You go on the road, there’s challenges. There’s things you have to work on throughout practice throughout the week to help prepare yourself. So, knowing that — and every detail counts. With the margin of error so small in the NFL, everything matters. Everything matters. Not just, ‘Hey, these things matter.’ Everything matters. And so this home crowd matters. Can’t wait, knowing that the margin of error is that small and now we have the home crowd out here cheering us on, that’s a huge advantage, super excited to feel that energy, to feel that energy when we come out.”
Home field matters. Especially in Football. Get a crowd loud enough where the opposing offense has a hard time hearing each other, it can make a difference. It will be interesting to see how the new look Eagles feed off the crowd. It will also be interesting to see how fans react if things don’t go well. It was an interesting off season in that it was the first time in a while fans seemed to have very low expectations. But did week 1 change that? We will see on Sunday.
49ers Hobbled by Injury
The 49ers are already off to a rough start injury wise. In week 1, they lost CB Jason Verrett, and RB Raheem Mostert for the season. Their other starting CB, Emmanuel Moseley, hasn’t practiced all week, and is in danger of missing the game. If he cant go, the 49ers options at Corner will be Deommodore Lenoir, Dontae Johnson, Josh Norman, and Dre Kirkpatrick. Lenoir is projected to be one of the two starters, he is a 5th round rookie. Kirkpatrick was just signed on Tuesday. Norman was once an All pro CB, but he hasn’t been that good the last few years. He allowed 16 tds across his final two seasons with Washington, before landing in Buffalo last year. He was a bit better there, but still at best a average corner. If Moseley cant go, there might be some chances for the Eagles young fast WRs to make some plays.
The Niners front 7 is also on the mend. Javon Kinlaw, Arik Armstead, and Dee Ford have all been limited, or non participants at practice this week. They both could play, but even if they do they may be limited. Meanwhile starting WILL Linebacker Dre Greenlaw is expected to miss 4-6 weeks. Dee Ford has been limited at practice as well.
The Niners defense is supposed to be their strength, but with several key injuries, we will see if it holds up. Losing the speed of Greenlaw could make it hard for them to contain Jalen Hurts, or to stop Miles Sanders.
Can Hurts and Sirianni Build on Week 1?
Its hard to imagine a better debut to the Sirianni/ Hurts era than we saw in week 1. But they aren’t playing the Falcons again. 49er’s defense may be injured, but they will still provide a harder challenge than Atlanta did. Nick Bosa alone provides a bigger threat than anyone they saw week 1.
So will they still look as good as they did last week? And if they don’t, is that a statement on them as a whole, or can we give them the benefit of a bad week?
Fans should expect some bumps for a QB in his first full season, and for a rookie coach. Not to say it will come this week, but at some point there may be a down game. Just like we made an effort to not over react after the good game, we should also not over react to one bad game if it comes. With that said, there is reason to be excited to watch the two of them this week. I want to see if Sirianni keeps the same game plan and gets the ball out quick to Eagles play makers. We still don’t have a great idea of who Sirianni is as a coach, and we should learn a lot about him and Hurts in week 2.
NFC East Up For Grabs
Two weeks ago, very few people thought the Eagles were contenders to win the NFC East. The difference a couple weeks can make. The Giants are 0-2, Washington is 1-1 despite their best efforts to blow the game vs the Giants, and The Cowboys are 0-1, and heading into a tough matchup vs the Chargers without their RT, one of their WRS, and best pass rusher.
The Giants are a complete mess, with who may be one of the worst coaches in the NFL right now. Washington’s defense has not looked as good as promised, and Daniel Jones of all people was hurting them both through the air and on the ground. The vaunted Washington pass rush was at times unable to generate pressure. And then there is the Cowboys, whose offense looks great, but their defense is bad, and now without potentially their best player in Demarcus Lawrence.
If Eagles can pull off this win, they will be 2-0, and potentially two games ahead of a injured Cowboys team, and the Giants. Then they get a chance to take advantage of the Cowboys injuries and suspensions in week 3. A couple weeks from now we could be talking about a Eagles team that are already out to a big lead in the division. Getting an early lead is a big deal, especially when the Eagles toughest games are font loaded. This division will likely be mediocre once again. If the Eagles take care of their own business, they can take advantage .