I keep thinking the Eagles are going to lose one of these games, that making the playoffs can't be this easy, because for several years, it hasn't been. There was a time when you just assumed if it was December, the Birds usually would win, but those were the days of Duce Staley and a young, healthy Brian Westbrook, of Hugh Douglas and Ike Reese, days when the offensive line seemed to have been together longer than the Rolling Stones.

Could this week be the hiccup I assume is coming? The 49ers looked darned good in blasting the Cardinals Monday night. The Eagles, who have fought hard to get to first place in the NFC East, could let down after beating the Giants.

Last season at San Francisco, the 49ers led the Eagles in the fourth quarter before the Birds' 23-point final quarter pulled out a win.

But it's hard to digest the fact that San Francisco's last road win was the Sept. 13 season opener, and that the 49ers' offense is ranked 27th in the NFL. After treating the Giants like slippery soap, I will be really surprised if Sean McDermott's Eagles defense doesn't come out Sunday loaded for bear. (Yeah, that is a strange expression, isn't it? Apparently, in frontier days, one loaded one's musket with an extra-powerful charge when one thought a bear encounter might be imminent.)

Frank Gore isn't a bear, but he did gain 101 yards on 19 carries against the Eagles last season, the last time the Birds allowed a 100-yard rusher.


Eagles 29, 49ers 26.

- Les Bowen