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3 keys to a 49ers victory: Time for revenge against the Eagles?

Can the 49ers pull off a victory over the Eagles at the Linc?

San Francisco 49ers vs Philadelphia Eagles Perry Knotts/Getty Images

Fresh off a 31-13 victory over the Seattle Seahawks, the San Francisco 49ers are set to face off against the Philadelphia Eagles in Week 13, hoping to bridge the gap for the No. 1 seed.

It’s the first time both teams have seen each other since they faced off in the NFC Championship Game last season, where Philadelphia ultimately won 31-7 to advance to the Super Bowl after quarterback Brock Purdy got injured in the first quarter.

There are a few injury questions on both sides, as Arik Armstead is questionable after participating in just one practice this week due to a foot injury. Additionally, Philadelphia will be without linebacker Zach Cunningham, while tight end Dallas Goedert is doubtful.

Heading into the game, the 49ers are seen as three-point favorites, according to DraftKings Sportsbook, with the over/under placed at 48 points.

Here’s what you need to know about the 49ers’ opponent on Sunday.

Opponent Preview

The Eagles enter the game as the best team in the NFL, record-wise, at 10-1, having won five straight, including consecutive games over the Dallas Cowboys, Kansas City Chiefs, and Buffalo Bills.

There’s been a theme over those three victories: the Eagles have come from behind and won, as they’ve trailed by double digits in two of those three games before pulling out the victory.

Philadelphia possesses the third-best scoring offense in the NFL, averaging 28.2 points per game, but their defense has slipped, as their secondary and linebackers haven’t looked as good this season.

The Eagles have won in a variety of ways, showcasing the ability to prevail in shootouts, such as last weekend’s 37-34 win over the Bills, or in lower-scoring games, such as their 21-17 win over the Chiefs.

Philadelphia comes into this game in the middle of a brutal schedule, having recently played Dallas, Kansas City, and Buffalo heading into Week 13, while they travel to face the Cowboys once again in Week 14.

Keys to the Game

Moving the chains: With prolific offenses on both sides, the battle of moving the chains will be one to watch.

The Eagles convert third-downs at a 47.3 percent clip, good for third in the NFL, while the 49ers convert at a 44.4 percent rate, good for fifth in the NFL.

Additionally, neither side is elite at stopping third downs, as the 49ers rank 21st in opponent third down conversion rate, while the Eagles rank 30th.

In a game between two elite teams, getting stops on third down will be important and could ultimately dictate how the game goes.

Another element that comes with moving the chains is fourth-down situations.

The Eagles convert 1.2 fourth downs a game, which ranks second in the NFL, and have converted on 76.5 percent of their opportunities, which is, by far, the best in the league.

San Francisco ranks 32nd in going for it on fourth down, although they’ve been successful on 57.4 percent of those opportunities, good for ninth in the NFL.

A part of getting off the field involves stopping fourth-down conversions on defense, while potentially being more aggressive on offense.

Redzone: Sunday’s matchup brings together two teams who have frequently seen the redzone, as the 49ers rank second with four redzone trips a game, while the Eagles are fourth at 3.9 trips a game.

Both teams have been successful in the redzone as well, as Philadelphia ranks eighth with 62.8 percent touchdown rate, while San Francisco is ninth with a 61.4 percent touchdown rate.

However, over the past three weeks, there’s been a stark difference between the two teams.

The Eagles have been extremely successful, converting 100 percent of their redzone opportunities into touchdowns, despite facing teams like the Cowboys, Chiefs, and Bills.

On the other hand, San Francisco has struggled, converting just 50 percent of their opportunities over the same time frame, although they did get three touchdowns on four redzone drives against Seattle last week.

In a game that could see a high number of redzone chances, converting touchdowns will be extremely important, especially against a team as aggressive as the Seahawks.

One area of solace? Philadelphia is a bottom-five team in defending the redzone, allowing touchdowns at 64.8 percent clip, while San Francisco, over the last three weeks, has been the second-best team in that same category.

Defensive woes: One of the key battles on Sunday will be the matchup between the 49ers offense and the Eagles’ defense.

While Philadelphia has been one of the league’s most successful teams and are coming off three consecutive victories over playoff contenders, there has been one apparent flaw over the past three weeks: their defense.

The Eagles have allowed 415 yards per game over their last three contests, a bottom-five mark, and they’ve especially struggled through the air, allowing 278 yards per outing.

Philadelphia’s defense has been suspect all season, but they’ve found a way to win.

While they possess a strong defensive line, there are flaws in the back two levels, which head coach Kyle Shanahan will look to exploit, specifically at the linebacker position where starter Zach Cunningham will be out.

The Eagles aren’t a great redzone defense and they give up a lot of yards. That’s usually not a good sign against a 49ers team that has been dominant between the numbers.

Can the 49ers get out to a hot start and actually hold the lead, unlike Philadelphia’s last three opponents? We’ll find out on Sunday.