Hitners Hot Take

Whitner proclaims 49ers will beat Eagles, become NFL's top team

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The 49ers are one week away from their biggest test of the 2023 NFL season, and the outcome will go a long way to determining the top NFC playoff seeds.

Next weekend, San Francisco travels to Philadelphia for a marquee NFC Championship Game rematch with the Eagles at Lincoln Financial Field.

Entering Philadelphia's Week 12 game against the Buffalo Bills, the Eagles (9-1) have a game-and-a-half lead over the 49ers (8-3) in the race for the NFC's No. 1 seed.

Following the 49ers' Thanksgiving night blowout 31-13 win over the Seattle Seahawks, NBC Sports Bay Area analyst Donte Whitner predicted that the Eagles will lose to the Bills, setting up a Week 13 clash for the top spot in the NFC.

"The 49ers have revenge on their mind," Whitner said on the latest "Hitner's Hot Take" segment earlier this week. "This week they have the Philadelphia Eagles coming up. Currently, the Philadelphia Eagles are in first place in the NFC playoff race with a 9-1 record and I'm forecasting that they're going to lose to the Buffalo Bills this weekend, pushing their record to 9-2, which sets up a mega matchup with the 49ers."

By playing on Thanksgiving, the 49ers have the luxury of three extra days of rest heading into next Sunday's NFC title game rematch.

That's a big deal in Whitner's mind.

"[With] three extra days of rest and preparation, the 49ers will be at full strength," Whitner said. "Having a healthy Brock Purdy, who's currently leading the league in completion percentage, QBR [and] touchdown-to-interception ratio, will be huge."

While Whitner believes a healthy offensive unit will be a huge advantage for the 49ers, he views San Francisco's defensive front as the possible difference-maker next Sunday.

"In my opinion, this game is gonna boil down to the 49ers' defensive line with Chase Young, Nick Bosa, Arik Armstead and Javon Hargrave compressing the pocket and making it very uncomfortable for Jalen Hurts," Whitner said. "[If] they take away the deep ball and the explosive plays on the outside, they tackle well and win the turnover differential, next week, the 49ers will be No. 1 in the NFL power rankings."

If the Eagles beat the Bills in Week 12, the 49ers won't be able to tie Philadelphia record-wise with a win next week. But no matter what happens this Sunday, if San Francisco emerges victorious next weekend, it would be difficult for anyone to disagree with Whitner about which team is the NFL's best.

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