I don't want to call this upcoming game against the San Francisco 49ers a must-win game, but it certainly has the feel of one.
After a disappointing 1-2 start, the Eagles must rebound and beat a team they have more talent than. Hard work and heart trumps talent, though, which was clearly seen in last week's loss against New York.
Here are the five keys to an Eagles win on Sunday.
The Niners offensive line may actually be worse than the Eagles line.
Frank Gore is only averaging 2.5 yards per carry and has not shown the same explosiveness as last year. His ankle injury may keep him out of Sunday's game, and even if he does play, making cuts on a bad ankle is extremely difficult.
If Gore is out, then the reins fall on rookie fourth-round pick Kendall Hunter, who is much like LeSean McCoy in that he is a very shifty runner who can make defenders look silly. Hunter, though, hasn't had much more success than Gore on the ground, as he is only averaging 2.7 yards per carry.
The Eagles should put eight in the box to make sure the run doesn't beat them because Alex Smith is surely not going to beat them.
The Niners offense goes through their running game and tight end Vernon Davis, so stopping half of the offense right there is a place to start.
Like I said in the previous slide, the Niners offense goes through the running game and elite tight end Vernon Davis.
His athleticism and size-to-speed ratio is downright unfair to anyone trying to cover him.
That's why the Eagles should double-cover him.
People want Nnamdi Asomugha to cover him, but I'm scared that Davis' physicality could be too much for Asomugha. Asomugha should just eliminate his receiver on the side of the field and let a linebacker and safety double-cover Davis all game long.
A Niners receiver will not beat the Eagles corners deep, so I think the Eagles should trust them with man-to-man coverage and take one of their safeties to double Davis with a linebacker.
The Eagles have one of the best run-blocking lines in the game and they will be put to the test against a great Niners front seven led by Patrick Willis and up-and-coming linebacker Navarro Bowman, who has easily been the most impressive defensive player so far this season
Even though the main goal of the game is to win for the Eagles, an important secondary goal is keeping Michael Vick healthy.
Being conservative, at least for the Eagles, and letting McCoy try to control the game would be the correct decision to limit Vick's hits.
Even if the 49ers shut down McCoy—which is possible considering they give up only 62.7 yards per game, good for third in the NFL—establishing McCoy could lead to big plays down the field.
The defense will have to guess when the Eagles will throw the ball which will allow play-action to develop for the offense.
The Eagles must ensure that Vick does not take hits in the game because if he falls the wrong way, his body can give out and lead to a season-ending injury.
I feel the Eagles should give Vick the week off to get completely healthy, but that is obviously not happening.
So, to ensure Vick's health, the Eagles should be conservative with their line and max protect for Vick. Let Brent Celek be a blocker for most of the game and let McCoy or Brown be in the backfield to block an incoming blitzer.
Vick will also be fresher at the end of games, which is an added plus.
With max protect, Vick could have plenty of time to let DeSean Jackson beat the average Niners secondary deep.
If the Eagles lose on Sunday, I can guarantee they would make a special teams blunder and kick to Ginn.
Ginn can win games with his return skills—just ask the Seattle Seahawks. In that game, Ginn returned two back for touchdowns, which ultimately led to the first win of the Jim Harbaugh era.
He averages close to 40 yards per kick returns and 13 yards per punt returns.
Chas Henry needs to kick the ball out of bounds every punt opportunity because I don't trust the Eagles special teams against him. Alex Henery must force touchbacks on his kickoffs.
The Eagles have an overall better team than the 49ers, but this game will probably not be a walk in the park.
If the Eagles play to their fullest potential, they should be able to blow out a weak 49ers team.