January 27, 2023
The Eagles are one of the four still left standing, and now it'll be the 49ers, in a battle between the NFC's No. 1 and No. 2 seeds, up next to decide one of the teams going to the Super Bowl.
It's been a long road, but one that leaves the Eagles on the doorstep of something truly special.
Will they break through?
Here's what our writers think:
TV: FOX (Kevin Burkhardt, Greg Olsen, Erin Andrews, Tom Rinaldi, Mike Pereira)
RADIO: 94.1 WIP (Merrill Reese, Mike Quick)
|Book||Spread||Money Line||Total (O/U)|
|DraftKings||PHI -2.5|| SF +125|
|FanDuel||PHI -2.5||SF +122|
|BetMGM||PHI -2.5||SF +125|
|UniBet||PHI -2.5||SF +125|
|PointsBet||PHI -2.5|| SF +120|
The 49ers are an impressive football team. They are riding a 12-game winning streak into the NFC Championship Game, and eight of those wins have come by at least two scores. Offensively, the Niners arguably have the best left tackle in the NFL, as well as a set of skill position players in Christian McCaffrey, Deebo Samuel, George Kittle, and Brandon Aiyuk who can all make big plays with the ball in their hands. Defensively, they employ the best off-ball linebacker in the sport in Fred Warner, and the NFL's sack leader in Nick Bosa. Those two players are surrounded by a great supporting cast that as a group earned the No. 1 defensive ranking in DVOA in 2022.
But, they're not as good as the Eagles.
• Better offensive line? Eagles.
• Better defensive line? Eagles.
• Better wide receivers? Eagles.
• Better cornerbacks? Eagles.
• Better quarterback? Emphatically, Eagles.
If you were to go position-by-position, the only spots where the 49ers are very clearly better than the Eagles are at off-ball linebacker and running back, the latter of which might even be in question with McCaffrey and Elijah Mitchell both dealing with soft tissue injuries. The Eagles have the superior roster at the most important positions on the field, and it's not even as if the spots where they're not a good could be considered weaknesses.
49ers No. 3 quarterback Brock Purdy deserves all the credit he has gotten for helping the Niners continue their winning streak into the postseason, but Sunday evening will be a major challenge. He'll be trying to avoid a pass rush that sacked opposing quarterbacks 75 times this season while throwing into a ball-hawking secondary in front of a very loud, liquored-up crowd unlike any he has ever seen. The magical run ends Sunday evening.
These records mean noting. This is just for fun. And while I think the Eagles are fully capable of winning Sunday — and are in many ways the better team — it seems too evenly matched for this to be a unanimous decision. And so, I will play the role of the contrarian.
The Niners defense is really good, and if Christian McCaffrey is fully healthy the skill positions are also fully intimidating. I think Brock Purdy is due for a stinker of a game, but as I said, someone has to pick the Niners. Going for the reverse jinx here, I'll go with the Red and Gold.
I kind of want to pick a blowout because I was too cowardly to do a 38-7 prediction on "38-7 Day" last week. My rational prediction initially was a clean 24-20 win with the Eagles covering the spread. I'll get a little spicier and say it's Eagles 29-17.
Brock Purdy has had a stellar start to his career, but in watching the 49ers play Seattle and Dallas, the dude was begging to get picked off with some of his passes and lucking out. Playing against a ball-hawking secondary like the Eagles, he will not escape mistake free.
Let me paint a picture. The Eagles win the coin toss and defer. On the first drive of the game, San Francisco faces a 3rd and six. Purdy drops back to pass, but is hit on the throw by Haason Reddick, causing an errant throw. Intended for Deebo Samuel, the ball falls into the arms of C.J. Gardner-Johnson, who takes it back to the house for a pick-6 that ignites Lincoln Financial Field into a frenzy.
Purdy, again, has been great to begin his career, but he's never played in Philadelphia.
The Eagles will cook the clock throughout the second half too, racking up over 200 yards on the ground yet again.
The Brock Purdy story has been fun and all, but after watching the Eagles dismantle the Giants last week, I’m not especially worried that a rookie QB is going to walk into the Linc and end Philadelphia’s season.
Expect a raucous atmosphere and a Birds win.
A nail-biter, for sure, but an eerily familiar one that the Eagles will win with a defensive stop on the final play.
Because history doesn't repeat, but it sure does rhyme.
Eagles win. Eagles win. It’s an amazing feeling to see the Eagles head on to the Super Bowl, something all of us have witnessed just five short years ago. The team is geared up with one of – if not THE – best players in the NFL in Jalen Hurts. The defensive line is winning grown-man battles each week. Howie Roseman has assembled the deepest and best (Sorry, Cincy) O-line in the NFL. The coaching staff is like a group of kids in a candy store, fresh off getting their allowance. They can do whatever they want because they have no limitations.
That’s what the Niners have – limitations. You may not know it based on their hot streak or the amazing amount of talent, but they are limited where it matters most. Their head coach has done a masterful job at hiding Brock Purdy from true exposure but more importantly keeping Purdy out of a situation where he alone has to win a game – in the playoffs. The Eagles' pass rush is the unsung hero of this team so don’t be shocked when they start belting out some tunes.
No rookie quarterback has ever won a conference title game.
That's the history Brock Purdy is swimming upstream against, not to mention about 70,000 fans so ill-tempered Dr. Evil might consider attaching laser beams to their freakin' heads. So I'm gonna go ahead and guarantee that the Niners rookie won't win Sunday's game. I'm not nearly as convinced that the Eagles will beat the 49ers, though.
Yes, it's a pet peeve of mine that so many boil NFL predictions down to quarterback vs. quarterback. There will be 45 teammates joining Purdy and Jalen Hurts at Lincoln Financial Field in what are the two most talented rosters in the NFL. Difference-makers are all over on the offensive side of both teams and each has potential game-wreckers on defense.
The luxury of having the better signal-caller gives Philadelphia a greater margin of error and that, along with a home field that is the closest thing we see to the Roman Colosseum in the modern age, should be enough to get the Eagles over the top.
Kyle Shanahan, though, has become deft at navigating small paths from his experience with Jimmy Garoppolo while the Eagles are coming off two bye weeks when you factor in the ineptitude of the New York Giants.
This thing is going to be razor close with a Jake Elliott or Robbie Gould kick liking sealing things late. If lightning doesn't strike in the same place twice, we already had Nick Foles in 2018 so the clock strikes midnight on Purdy.
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