Philadelphia Eagles' Carson Wentz walks off the field after an NFL football game against the Cincinnati Bengals, Sunday, Sept. 27, 2020, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Laurence Kesterson)
San Francisco 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan works on the sidelines during the second half of an NFL football game against the New York Giants, Sunday, Sept. 27, 2020, in East Rutherford, N.J. (AP Photo/Bill Kostroun)
San Francisco 49ers quarterback Nick Mullens (4) celebrates with Brandon Aiyuk during the second half of an NFL football game against the New York Giants, Sunday, Sept. 27, 2020, in East Rutherford, N.J. (AP Photo/Bill Kostroun)
SANTA CLARA, Calif. (AP) The script has flipped in the nearly three years since the previous meeting between the Philadelphia Eagles and San Francisco 49ers.
The Niners left Philadelphia that day after a lopsided loss as a winless team in coach Kyle Shanahan's first season with a thin roster so battered by injuries they nearly had to play a tight end at tackle.
''That was a game I've tried to forget,'' Shanahan said this week. ''That was a very miserable game.''
The 49ers returned home with an 0-8 record, acquired quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo in a trade the next day and have transformed into a power that went to the Super Bowl a year ago.
The Eagles (0-2-1) went on to win the Super Bowl that season but enter the rematch on Sunday against San Francisco (2-1) searching for answers to reverse their worst start to a season in more that two decades.
Quarterback Carson Wentz has the lowest passer rating in the NFL at 63.9 and has committed the most turnovers with seven on a team that has done little right since taking a 17-0 lead in the opener against Washington. They lost that game 27-17, were beaten handily by the Rams the next week and tied Cincinnati in Week 3 for the team's worst start since going 0-4 in 1999.
''Right now we're not a very good football team,'' coach Doug Pederson said. ''We're not very smart. We're shooting ourselves in the foot. We're leaving touchdowns on the field offensively, and we're just not executing.''
That was the 49ers situation after losing 33-10 to the Eagles on Oct. 29, 2017, to fall to 0-8 that season. They lost a half-dozen players to injuries that game, which almost forced tight end Garrett Celek to play tackle.
The Niners have dealt with a similar spate of injuries this season with Garoppolo, All-Pro tight end George Kittle, star cornerback Richard Sherman, 2019 Defensive Rookie of the Year Nick Bosa, running Raheem Mostert and No. 1 receiver Deebo Samuel among the key players to miss time this season.
Kittle and Samuel will be back this week, while Garoppolo will miss a second straight game. But the 49ers have shown they have the depth to handle it following back-to-back lopsided wins over the Jets and Giants with short-handed rosters.
''I think we're much deeper at every position,'' Kittle said. ''We're also way more mature. We had a lot of rookies and second-year guys playing then.''
DON'T BE FOOLED
Shanahan isn't focused on Wentz's early season struggles that have included poor decisions and bad accuracy that have led to far more mistakes than usual for a player who was in MVP contention three years ago. Shanahan figures it's only a matter of time until that player returns.
''We're coaching like we're playing against Carson Wentz, who is one of the better quarterbacks in this league,'' he said. ''He was the best player in the league the year they won the Super Bowl. I think he's done a lot of good things since. I know his numbers aren't great this year and I know a lot of people are saying things about him, but when I watched the film, I see Carson Wentz.''
GIVE MILES THE ROCK
Philadelphia's Miles Sanders has 190 yards rushing in two games, averaging 5.0 yards per carry. But he only ran the ball three times out of 15 offensive plays in overtime against Cincinnati. Pederson is prone to abandoning the run quickly, but he said Sanders was fatigued late in the game for the second straight week.
Sanders missed training camp with a hamstring injury. With Philadelphia's passing game struggling, leaning on Sanders is even more important. But the Eagles can't do that if he's tired in the second half. Boston Scott (3.7 yards per carry) and Corey Clement (3.0) haven't done much when they ran the ball.
''Coaches have a game plan and we put all our trust in the coaches,'' Sanders said. ''So whatever play is called in the huddle, I'm going to run it.''
With Garoppolo sidelined again because of an ankle injury, the Niners are in more than capable hands with Nick Mullens at quarterback. He threw for 343 yards and a touchdown last week and has 2,620 yards in his nine starts. Only Patrick Mahomes (2,810) and Andrew Luck (2,631) had more after nine starts.
''Nick's as good of a pro as we have in this building,'' tackle Mike McGlinchey said. ''He's always on his preparation. The way that his mind works and the way that he's able to think through the demands of our offense is as good as anybody.''
Eagles defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz has faced Shanahan's offense several times over the years so he's preparing his team against the scheme more than the players, especially with San Francisco dealing with several injuries.
''We really don't concern ourselves too much with their injuries. Everybody's dealing with that in the NFL,'' Schwartz said. ''I think the biggest thing there is their scheme has a long track record. ... Whether they have a running back that's started the season or a guy that's coming off the practice squad, it really doesn't change what they're trying to accomplish in the game.''
The Niners will have a new long snapper for the game after the team's second-longest tenured player, Kyle Nelson, was released. Nelson had several bad snaps last week, leading to the change. Taybor Pepper will take over the role this week.
Five Hot Plays: Week 8
Carolina Panthers kicker Joey Slye made one field goal and a pair of extra points in a 25-17 loss to the Atlanta Falcons. Slye didn't get many opportunities in this one, as Carolina made just one trip to the red zone against a surprisingly resurgent Falcons' defense. There's not much that a kicker can do when he's simply not seeing the opportunities. With that said, Slye may be needed more in Week 9 against Kansas City, as the Panthers will probably have to put up a lot of points to win.
The Carolina Panthers Defense had an average day in a 25-17 loss to the Atlanta Falcons. Carolina registered two sacks and an interception, holding strong on Atlanta's first two trips to the red zone. However, they couldn't stop the Falcons from marching down the field, ultimately surrendering 25 points to their division rival. At this point, there's nothing to suggest that the Panthers' defense is worthy of streaming for fantasy purposes. Don't even think about starting them in Week 9, as they face the Chiefs.
Carolina Panthers wide receiver Curtis Samuel enjoyed his most productive game of the season in a losing effort against Atlanta. Samuel caught four of five targets for 31 receiving yards and carried the ball three times for 23 rushing yards. The 24-year-old made a nice run in the red zone to start the scoring for the Panthers, then hauled in a deep pass from Teddy Bridgewater on a flea-flicker. It's Samuel's second straight game with a rushing touchdown. This was an encouraging performance from the former Buckeye, though it's worth noting that he was held under 50 receiving yards for the seventh time in eight games. He'll be a low-end flex at best in Week 9 against the Chiefs.
Carolina Panthers tight end Ian Thomas caught all three targets for 28 receiving yards in a 25-17 loss to the Atlanta Falcons. It was a juicy matchup for Thomas, but he certainly didn't exploit it, as his modest stat-line will support. His three targets were the most he's seen in weeks, though he seemed to surrender some playing time to fellow tight end Chris Manhertz. It's best to avoid Thomas completely until he picks up his production.
Carolina Panthers wide receiver D.J. Moore had a quiet game in a 25-17 loss to the Falcons on Thursday Night Football. Moore caught two of six targets for 55 receiving yards, including a huge 42-yard reception on a 3rd-and-17 in the fourth quarter. In a strange turn of events, Moore went without a catch until the final drive of the fourth quarter. Fortunately, the 23-year-old still saw six targets, second on the team to only fellow wideout Robby Anderson. There should be better days ahead for Moore, as he had compiled at least 93 receiving yards in three straight contests coming into this one. He'll get a Week 9 matchup against Kansas City in what could turn out to be a high-scoring affair.
Carolina Panthers running back Mike Davis carried the ball 13 times for 66 rushing yards and caught one of two targets for 11 receiving yards in a loss to the Falcons. The 27-year-old disappointed in likely his last ride as the Panthers' lead back, as Christian McCaffrey (ankle) is expected to return in Week 9 against Kansas City. Davis was a PPR machine in McCaffrey's absence, with at least six targets in four games as the starter. He was so impressive at times that it's possible he earned himself a bigger role, though it likely won't amount to much with McCaffrey around to gobble up the majority of the touches. Keep Davis rostered until we find out McCaffrey is back for sure.
Atlanta Falcons wide receiver Russell Gage finished Thursday's win with two receptions for 25 yards on three targets. Gage continued to show his inconsistency on Thursday after coming into the game having gotten at least 54 yards in the past two contests. The WR is definitely streaky, which makes him a risky play most weeks. An ankle injury suffered by fellow wideout Calvin Ridley is worth monitoring. If Ridley cannot play next Sunday, Gage's value will surely go up, but it would still be hard to trust him for good production given his lackluster numbers this season.
Carolina Panthers wide receiver Robby Anderson hauled in five of eight targets for 48 receiving yards in a 25-17 loss to the Falcons. It could have been a bigger day for the former Jet, as he nearly made a one-handed touchdown grab on a throw from backup P.J. Walker, who came in relief of Teddy Bridgewater for one series. It certainly didn't help Anderson that Bridgewater was under constant pressure the whole night. However, his fantasy managers can take solace in the fact that he's now seen at least eight targets in six of eight contests this season. That sort of volume should keep him in the WR2 mix next week, even in a tough matchup against Kansas City.
Atlanta Falcons wide receiver Julio Jones had seven receptions for 137 yards on 10 targets in the Week 8 win over Carolina. For the past three weeks, the WR has been playing at a tremendous level and has gotten at least seven receptions, nine targets, and 97 yards the past three games. His volume keeps him in the WR1 tier each week.
Carolina Panthers quarterback Teddy Bridgewater completed 15 of 23 passes for 176 yards and a touchdown along with 30 yards rushing on five attempts in a 25-17 loss to Atlanta. Bridgewater left the game after taking a nasty hit in the third quarter, but he was able to return after making it through the league's concussion protocol. The 27-year-old made some nice throws when he was given time, including a beautiful deep ball to Curtis Samuel on a flea-flicker. Unfortunately, he was constantly under pressure, as he was sacked twice and hit six times by the Falcons Defense. A bounce-back could be in the cards next week- Carolina may need to rely on Bridgewater's arm in Week 9 against Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs.
Atlanta Falcons wide receiver Calvin Ridley finished with three receptions for 42 yards on four targets in Week 8. The WR went down with an ankle injury in the first half of the game and didn't return. Managers will now have to monitor the status of the WR heading into the Week 9 clash against the Broncos.
Atlanta Falcons tight end Hayden Hurst finished with five receptions for 54 yards on seven targets in the Week 8 win over Carolina. Hurst has now seen seven targets in the past two games and has gotten at least 50 yards in four of the past five games. The TE has a decent role in this offense and the latest numbers are backing that up. Hurst should be considered a low-end TE1 each week given his consistency.
Atlanta Falcons running back Brian Hill finished with 11 carries for 55 yards and two receptions for nine yards on Thursday. It was the RB2 of the team who surprisingly led in rush yards, but this was a rare occurrence. Hill doesn't see enough weekly touches to merit good fantasy value going forward.
Atlanta Falcons running back Todd Gurley II finished Thursday night's win with 18 carries for 46 yards and a score. The back still had a decent night despite Brian Hill getting more rushing yards total. Gurley has now had at least 18 carries in the past three games and has three rushing touchdowns in the past two games. With a steady number of carries each week, the RB should remain in the low-end RB1/high-end RB2 tier every week.
Atlanta Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan went 21-for-30 and gained 281 yards and one interception in the Thursday night win over the Panthers. It was a rainy game and many players were clearly affected by the conditions. Ryan finished with an average night, which he has sometimes had this season. With a high-powered offense, the QB should remain in the starting tier most weeks, but is most effective in favorable matchups.
Teddy Bridgewater, after being tripped while trying to scramble, took a shot to the head as he fell to the ground against the Falcons. Obviously, the first concern after a hit to the head is a concussion. Bridgewater's head abruptly twisted to the side and he went into the tent shortly thereafter. The Panthers' backup tonight is XFL sweetheart, P.J. Walker.
Calvin Ridley has been ruled out for the Falcons' Week 8 game against the Panthers. He was tackled by a defender and his left foot got caught under the defender. Ridley immediately grabbed his left foot and went to the locker room. His status for Week 9 will now be in question.
New York Jets running back La'Mical Perine has been buried on the depth chart for most of the season. However, head coach Adam Gase mentioned last week that he wants to get Perine more involved. Perine was on the field for 70 percent of the offensive snaps during the Week 7 loss to the Buffalo Bills. He saw 11 carries for 40 yards and a touchdown in the loss. He'll get a decent matchup here against the Kansas City Chiefs who are average against the run this season. Perine could be worth looking at as a desperation option for owners in need of a running back.
New York Jets wide receiver Jamison Crowder (groin) was able to go through limited practice on Thursday. That is actually an upgrade since Crowder sat out of practice the day prior. Crowder has been basically the only bright spot for this team all season long. His absence would doom the Jets chances of doing anything at all on offense versus the Kansas City Chiefs in Week 8. Crowder has seen 10 or more targets in each game that he has played in this season. He'll be a reliable WR2, assuming he suits up here.
New York Jets running back Frank Gore has seen a significant role in the backfield this season. The departure of Le'Veon Bell has opened up lead back duties for Gore over the last few weeks. Sadly, the Jets offensive line and team as a whole is horrible this season. Gore has done what he can, but will likely see his role decrease going forward. Head coach Adam Gase wants to see La'Mical Perine more involved in the offense. That means, Gore is going to be a tough option to trust versus the Kansas City Chiefs in Week 8.