From: Gonzalez, John

To: Ford, Bob; Fox, Ashley

Subject: 49ers vs. Eagles

The Eagles are on a nice little run right now. Someone asked Reid about that the other day, about why his teams seem to come on strong late in the season. (Maybe that's something we just imagine; conventional wisdom and all that.) He just sort of brushed it off without giving an answer. Surprising, I know.

You guys are smart(ish). Why do Reid's teams appear to play better at the end of the year? And who wins today's game?

From: Ford, Bob

To: Gonzalez, John; Fox, Ashley

Subject: 49ers vs. Eagles

The obvious answer - the one that will appeal to you, Gonzoremedial - is that the coaching staff tinkers along the way, adds a piece here, removes a piece there, crafts the schemes to the abilities of who it has, and, presto, the team is operating at peak efficiency at the end of the season.

There's probably some truth there, but 10 or 11 seasons is not a statistically significant sample. Let's say that because of the schedule and injuries, they start strong in five seasons and end strong in five seasons. That's what you would expect. Now if you give them a strong finish as opposed to a strong start in, say, just two of the swing seasons, that makes it look like an overwhelming trend. When, in fact, it's probably just happenstance and the vagaries of the schedule, etc.

From: Gonzalez, John

To: Ford, Bob; Fox, Ashley

Subject: 49ers vs. Eagles

Lord. And I thought your columns were tiring. My eyes glazed over about halfway through.

Ashley asked Quintin Mikell a good question the other day about Reid's easing up on them in practice as the season goes along so they'll be somewhat fresher. Mikell couldn't pinpoint the exact time when Reid does that each year but conceded that it helps. I'll go with that.

From: Fox, Ashley

To: Gonzalez, John; Ford, Bob

Subject: 49ers vs. Eagles

Seriously, Bobby. That was brutal. What exactly were you trying to say? You Page One guys really are losing it.

Don't downplay the mental aspect of things. Many of the players have experienced success down the stretch, and that does matter. It matters that the Cowboys haven't experienced success. Yes, their schedule is brutal, and maybe they're just not good enough, but it's impossible to discount the effect of past December crashes.

From: Ford, Bob

To: Gonzalez, John; Fox, Ashley

Subject: 49ers vs. Eagles

If the Eagles win two of their three remaining games, just for argument's sake, they will be 6-2 in the second half of this season. In the last five years, that will make them 23-16-1 in the second half of seasons and 22-18 in the first half of those seasons.

Anyway, Eagles roll over the 49ers today. 38-13.

From: Gonzalez, John

To: Ford, Bob; Fox, Ashley

Subject: 49ers vs. Eagles

Way to look stuff up, Bobby. Birds 31, Niners 17.

From: Fox, Ashley

To: Gonzalez, John; Ford, Bob

Subject: 49ers vs. Eagles

I agree. Eagles beat the fighting Bob Langes today, 35-24.