If the San Francisco 49ers are going to beat the Philadelphia Eagles this week, they aren't going to be able to do so in the same ugly fashion that they beat the Seattle Seahawks and Cincinnati Bengals.
Even with Michael Vick's deeply bruised non-throwing hand, the 49ers are going to have their hands full with the Eagles' offense. Philadelphia is 1-2, but moving the ball isn't an issue for this team, who produce an average 408.7 yards of offense per game.
The 49ers defense has looked stellar thus far. Sure, the secondary has their moments, but the dominant run defense and aggressive swarm mentality has teams actually fearing them on that side of the ball.
The 49ers match up well against the Eagles, as they are a run-stopping team. So far, the Eagles have produced the second most rushing yards in the league.
Even so, DeSean Jackson and Jeremy Maclin will pose a problem for the new and improved 49ers secondary, which is still lacking in some respects this season.
Philadelphia is going to score points. When they do, Alex Smith and the offense are going to have to be ready to answer with some of their own.
The 49ers have the worst offense in the entire league this season. Their 213.7 yard per game rank 32nd in the league. Trying to turn this game into a defensive struggle and battle of field position is a recipe for disaster.
The good news for the 49ers is that the Eagles are downright terrible against the run. Frank Gore has struggled this season and some are suggesting that Kendall Hunter may be the better man for the job.
However, Gore is still one of the best backs in the league and the 49ers' best player on offense. He's the unquestioned offensive leader and he's due for a breakout game.
The offensive line has had issues in the new offense and will need to step their game up in order to establish the ground game early. Smith launching passes against Nnamdi Asomugha and Asante Samuel is a recipe for disaster.
Both Michael Crabtree and Vernon Davis had over 100 yards receiving against the Eagles last season. This time around, Crabtree will likely be a non-factor, but Davis should be a huge threat.
Who will win on Sunday?
Davis' lack of production has been the biggest setback thus far in the Jim Harbaugh regime. He's being kept in as a blocker far more frequently than he was under Mike Singletary and he's not at his best when he's a glorified tackle.
Harbaugh will figure out how to utilize Davis in the near future. For the offense's sake, this week would be an ideal time to unleash one of the biggest match up nightmares in the entire league.
The offense being held to a standstill hasn't been too big of an issue thus far. The 49ers have still been able to emerge through Week 3 with two wins, with their only loss coming in overtime.
Even so, it's impossible to say that either of the wins have been "good" wins, as the offense has been held in check by lower-echelon teams.
Attacking Vick and limiting the big play is going to be crucial for the 49ers, but if their offense continues to struggle as they have, the 49ers don't have a chance this week.