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January 28, 2023

NFC Championship picks: Rounding up the experts' predictions for Eagles vs. 49ers

Which team is the favorite among NFL writers in the NFC Championship Game?

Eagles NFL
Josh_Sweat_4_Eagles_49ers_Frese.jpg Kate Frese/for PhillyVoice

Eagles defensive end Josh Sweat.

The Eagles are 2.5-point home favorites which is pretty much an indicator that they are dead even with the Niners as far a sports handicappers go.

With the game fast approaching, we thought it might be interesting to round up what the experts are saying across the internet. Here's a look at 60 such picks (with the home-town ones listed last):

The RingerSheil KapadiaEagles 
The AthleticZach BermanEagles 

Michael-Shawn DugarEagles 
 Larry Holder49ers 
 Mark KabolyEagles 
 Josh Kendall49ers 
 Nick Kosmider49ers 
 Austin MockEagles 
 Jay Morrison49ers 
 Tashan ReedEagles 
 Ben StandigEagles 
ESPNStephania Bell49ers 
 Matt BowenEagles 
 Mike ClayEagles 
 Dan GrazianoEagles 
 Seth Wickersham49ers 
CBS SportsPete PriscoEagles 
 R.J WhiteEagles 
CBS SportsJason La CanforaEagles 
 Will BrinsonEagles 
 Jared Dubin49ers 
 Ryan Wilson49ers 
 Dave RichardEagles 
  Jamey EisenbergEagles 

John Breech49ers
ESPNEric MoodyEagles27-24
 Seth WalderEagles24-16
NFL.comGreg RosenthalEagles 
USA TodayJarrett BellEagles24-20
 Chris Bumbaca49ers23-22
 Safid DeenEagles30-24
 Nate Davis49ers 24-17
 Tyler DragonEagles21-16
 Lorenzo Reyes49ers23-21
PFTMichael David Smith49ers24-21
 Mike FlorioEagles24-23
Bleacher ReportBR Staff49ers 
Sporting NewsVinny Iyer49ers27-24
Sporting NewsBill Bender49ers27-24
Philly InquirerJeff McLaneEagles24-20
 E.J. SmithEagles34-28
 Josh ToletinoEagles27-24
NJ.comChris FranklinEagles23-20
 Daryl SlaterEagles28-27
 Bob BrookoverEagles27-21
 Steve PolitiEagles34-20
 Andy VasquezEagles21-17
Bleeding GreenBrandon Lee GowtonEagles 
 Ben Natan Eagles 
 Tyler Jackson Eagles 
 John StolnisEagles 
 Dave MangelsEagles 
 Alexis ChassenEagles
PhillyVoiceJimmy KempskiEagles29-17
 Evan Macy49ers24-20
 Shamus ClancyEagles29-17 
 Kyle NeubeckEagles24-17
 Nick TricomeEagles15-10
 Eytan ShanderEagles34-17
 John McMullenEagles24-23
TOTALS Eagles43-17

There are a ton of Eagles picks above, but just to clear out any potential bias, the Eagles only have a 22-16 advantage if we do not count the local writers on the compiled list.

For another perspective, the statistical website FiveThirtyEight.comgives the Eagles a 59% chance of making the Super Bowl, but just a 24% chance of winning it (interestingly, behind both the Chiefs and Bengals).

Among the 17 49ers pickers on our table is Vinny Iyer, who provides his pick for the better team in a variety of areas. The Niners, according to the Sporting News writer, have a better defense, special teams, coach, intangibles and X-factors. The Birds have the better offense and thats's it:

The Eagles have been the best team in the NFC From early in the season, but the 49ers have been working to gain on them fast in the second half. Hurts vs. Purdy might seem lopsided, but the bottom line is Purdy has more ideal kinds of supports to help him navigate through a difficult defensive draw than Hurts does. The 49ers know what it takes to either win or lose in this round under Shanahan more so than the Eagles. The 49ers will show with their road moxie and execution. [The Sporting News]

On the other side of the spectrum, our beat writer Jimmy Kempski disagrees with Iyer's accessment:

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. [PhillyVoice]

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