The NFL Conference Championship Weekend is here after what has been an exciting postseason so far. Only four teams remain, but just two can punch their ticket to Super Bowl 57 in Phoenix, Arizona. All four teams were in the Super Bowl within the past five years and three of the teams made the conference championship last season.
In last week’s divisional round predictions, we went 4-0 picking the games. This Sunday’s matchups get even more competitive making it difficult to pick, but let’s get right into the NFC Championship.
The Philadelphia Eagles got here after an impressive 14-3 season. They clinched the number one overall seed and first round bye. Philly destroyed the New York Giants 38-7 in the divisional round. Meanwhile San Francisco went 13-4, defeated Seattle in the wildcard round, and edged the Dallas Cowboys in the divisional round.
NFC Championship: San Francisco 49ers At Philadelphia Eagles
It was hard to imagine the San Francisco 49ers making it this far when quarterback Trey Lance went down with an ankle injury in September followed by Jimmy Garoppolo with a foot injury in October. Rookie QB Brock Purdy came in and has steadied this offense. Purdy has won all seven starts throwing 16 touchdown passes compared to just four interceptions including postseason. The former Iowa State QB is surrounded by stars such as running back Christian McCaffery, wide receiver Deebo Samuel, and tight end George Kittle.
The lack of experience of Purdy could come into play, but the 49ers have a scary defense, which is ranked number one in the NFL. San Francisco is tied for the league lead in interceptions, first in points allowed, and second in rush defense. Linebacker Nick Bosa is a player to watch as he has the most sacks and quarterback hits in the NFL (18.5 sacks, 49 QB hits).
The Philadelphia Eagles offense goes through their quarterback Jalen Hurts. The former Alabama and Oklahoma QB went 13-1 as a starter during the regular season, while the team went 0-2 without him. Hurts is one of the MVP finalists this season with his 35 combined passing and rushing touchdowns compared to just six interceptions. The offense around him with the wide receiver duo of A.J. Brown and DeVonta Smith, tight end Dallas Goedert, and running back Miles Sanders will be difficult to defend.
Like San Francisco, the Eagles have a dominant defense. Philly has the number one pass defense in the NFL and leads the league in sacks. The Eagles are the only team in NFL history with four players with 10 or more sacks. Those guys are Haason Reddick, Brandon Graham, Javon Hargrave, and Josh Sweat. The rush defense has been hit or miss, so that is the only weakness with this group.
Did You Know?
Jalen Hurts and Brock Purdy faced off against one another during the 2019 college football season in a Big 12 Conference showdown. Hurts’ Sooners edged Purdy’s Iowa State Cyclones 42-41. The two quarterbacks combined for 11 total touchdowns and the game came down to a Brock Purdy interception on a game-winning two-point conversion attempt. Both quarterbacks will face entirely more difficult defenses this time around, so points will be harder to come by.
Eagles 20 49ers 16
This could be a hard-fought game, but the Eagles have home-field advantage and the edge at the quarterback position. Jalen Hurts is the more experienced quarterback with two full seasons under his belt plus has played his way into the College Football Playoff for two programs. Expect the two defenses to rattle the opposing offenses for much of the day, but Philadelphia will come through at the end to win the NFC Championship.