The Eagles have partaken in one marquee matchup after another during . From a Cowboys showdown on Sunday night to a Super Bowl rematch with the Chiefs to a Week 12 shootout with the Bills, they've been must-see TV. And things won't slow down this weekend, when Lincoln Financial Field welcomes the return of the vaunted 49ers.
A year after squaring off in the NFC Championship Game, the Eagles and 49ers are once again the oddsmakers' favorites to go the distance, and once again duking it out for rights to the No. 1 seed in the conference. Both sides have traded barbs since Philly rolled over San Francisco in January, and surprisingly, the 49ers enter Sunday's rematch as betting favorites to avenge their playoff loss.
Suffice to say, this one's gonna be good. But which contender is set to come out on top? Here are three reasons each team is capable of winning the Week 13 showdown (and reshaping the future of the NFC playoff picture):
Why the 49ers can win
- Brock Purdy is the most efficient passer in football. Critics were quick to emerge when the second-year signal-caller threw some costly late-game picks during San Francisco's three-game losing streak in October. But he's been Mr. Automatic otherwise, leading the NFL in completion percentage (70.2) and yards per attempt (9.4) as Kyle Shanahan's point guard. And he doesn't just play it safe, either; he ranks eighth in total air yards and third in pass attempts over 20 yards.
- The Eagles have a clear weakness in the middle. The beauty of the 49ers offense is its diversity of both personnel and strategy; Shanahan can feed multipurpose weapons like Christian McCaffrey and Deebo Samuel close to the line, hone in on George Kittle between the hashes, or ask Purdy to look for Brandon Aiyuk downfield. But McCaffrey and Kittle, in particular, could be in for monster days with Zach Cunningham banged up in an already-thin Eagles linebacker corps.
- Steve Wilks' defense is scarily opportunistic. DeMeco Ryans may have left his post as defensive coordinator, but the 49ers are still taking the ball away better than almost anyone. Their 21 forced turnovers rank second in the NFL even with ballhawk Talanoa Hufanga sidelined due to injury, helping them allow the fewest points per game (15.5) of any team. That could be especially bad news for the Eagles, who have 16 giveaways and a -2 turnover differential on the year.
Why the Eagles can win
- They still hold the edge in the trenches. 49ers fans upset that Purdy didn't get a full 60 minutes to duel Hurts and the Eagles in last year's title game often overlook the fact San Francisco failed to protect its QBs in the first place. Philly, meanwhile, should have All-Pro right tackle Lane Johnson back from injury and is grading among the game's best blocking units as usual. And there arguably isn't a more persistent defensive front than that of the Birds, which leads the NFL in QB hurries and pressures.
- Jalen Hurts is best when it matters most. And no, that's not just anecdotal. Whereas Purdy's been far worse when trailing in 2023, with four of his six picks also coming on the road, Hurts has easily been at his best when playing from behind. In just 11 games this year, he's already set career highs in fourth-quarter comebacks (3) and game-winning drives (4). The Eagles' unfazed QB is also virtually undeniable as a runner in critical situations, be it fourth-and-1s or goal-line sneaks.
- They should have added help and motivation. For most teams, the latter part of this statement would be nonsense. Everyone is motivated to win, right? But Hurts and coach Nick Sirianni are different breeds. Besides their ridiculous record together, they have shown a knack for big-stage results. If you don't think the 49ers being favored against their 10-1 squad at home isn't cause for extra juice, think again. More than that, tight end Dallas Goedert could also be back as a key Hurts safety valve.