Two historic franchises meet in the NFC championship game this weekend.
Two historic franchises meet in the NFC championship game this weekend.
The Philadelphia Eagles locked up the conference's best record and will host Sunday's game at Lincoln Financial Field. Their opponents won't be a pushover, though. The San Francisco 49ers have won 12 straight games and are back in the NFC championship for the third time in four seasons.
Check out our 49ers vs. Eagles betting preview for the NFC championship game on January 29.
Check out the full 49ers vs. Eagles NFC championship game odds. Click linked odds to add selection to your betslip.
|Over/Under 46||Over (-110) or Under (-110)|
|McCaffrey to score a touchdown||-136|
|Hurts to score a touchdown||+128|
Odds as of 2:47 p.m. on 01/24/2023.
Philadelphia's road to the championship game was a little less arduous than San Francisco's.
The Niners started their season 3-4 and lost then-starting quarterback Trey Lance to a gruesome leg injury in Week 2. After an offseason of not knowing where he would end up, Jimmy Garappolo found himself back under centre for Kyle Shanahan's offence.
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He led San Francisco to a 7-4 record before suffering an injury of his own. Enter Brock Purdy.
Taken with the final pick in the 2022 NFL draft, Mr. Irrelevant has been solid in his eight games of relief for the Niners. He's gone 8-0 as a starter with a 16:3 touchdown-to-interception ratio (playoffs included). San Francisco has found its groove with Purdy as the signal caller, but more on him later.
Philadelphia, on the other hand, has been a wagon all season long.
The Birds were the league's last undefeated team (8-0) before suffering a loss at home to the Washington Commanders in Week 10. They dropped two more games down the stretch while Jalen Hurts was sidelined but finished tied for the league's best record at 14-3.
Philadelphia rolled over the New York Giants in the divisional round 38-7 and will have a slight rest advantage over San Francisco heading into Sunday's matchup.
These teams have been lighting up the scoreboard like a pinball machine all season. See how they rank among the league's best in nearly every category (NFL ranks in parenthesis):
|Eagles||28.1 (3rd)||389.1 (3rd)||+15.1% (3rd)||19 (5th)|
|49ers||26.5 (6th)||365.6 (5th)||+13.2% (6th)||17 (3rd)|
Let's start with Philadelphia.
Howie Roseman took a leap of faith in 2020 when he drafted Hurts in the second round and the quarterback has done nothing but silence doubters since then.
He had the fourth-best QBR during the regular season (66.3), was third in quarterback rushing (781) and had the most QB rushing touchdowns (13). Hurts also boasted the best QBR in the divisional round (84) and looked unbothered by his shoulder sprain.
But what good is an elite quarterback without the weapons to complement him?
A.J. Brown and DeVonta Smith — also known as Swole Batman and Skinny Batman — can go toe-to-toe with any receiving duo in the NFL. The pair of wideouts combined for 2,692 yards, 183 receptions and 18 touchdowns this season.
Plus the Eagles have Dallas Goedert and Miles Sanders, both of whom had stellar seasons.
San Francisco's stable of offensive talent is arguably even more impressive. The Niners have Christian McCaffrey, Deebo Samuel, Brandon Aiyuk and George Kittle at their disposal, and each one of those players is among the game's best at their respective position.
But the big question mark is if Purdy can remain composed. He looked like a rookie when pressured last week against the Dallas Cowboys and was also shaky in the first half of San Francisco's wild-card game against the Seattle Seahawks.
That said, he's made no game-changing mistakes and has still completed passes at a 62.7% clip in the playoffs. Shanahan's offence is built for a plug-and-play quarterback and the 23-year-old isn't asked to do too much on a play-to-play basis.
Still, we're going to give Philadelphia a slight advantage here because of the talent disparity at quarterback.
It's one thing to have an elite offence and a middle-of-the-road defence — we're looking at you Kansas City — but these teams can wreak havoc on both sides of the ball (NFL ranks in parenthesis):
|Team||Opponent points/game||Opponent yards/game||DVOA||Takeaways||Sacks|
|Eagles||20.2 (T-7)||301.5 (2nd)||-9.7 (6th)||27 (T-4)||70 (1st)|
|49ers||16.3 (1st)||300.6 (1st)||-14.1% (1st)||30 (3rd)||44 (T-10)|
This time we'll begin with the 49ers. DeMeco Ryans' unit is one of the best in recent memory, thanks to elite play at all three levels.
The Niners have three first-team All-Pros on defence: Nick Bosa at edge rusher and defensive end, Fred Warner at linebacker and Talanoa Hufanga at safety. That trio combined for 278 tackles, 22.5 sacks (18.5 of which came from Bosa), five takeaways and 27 tackles for loss.
San Francisco's defence belittled Dallas' offence in the divisional round, forcing two turnovers while holding the Cowboys to just 76 yards on the ground.
Their one perceived weakness could be the cornerback position, but Charvarius Ward and Deommodore Lenoir are an above-average duo.
Philadelphia's defence is nothing to scoff at, either. The Eagles led the league in sacks by a wide margin and completely bottled up the Giants in the divisional round.
They've allowed an average of just 19.4 points and 298.2 yards over the past five games and have game-wreckers littered throughout the defence.
Haason Reddick, Javon Hargrave, Brandon Graham and Josh Sweat each recorded 10-plus sacks during the regular season, while C.J. Gardner-Johnson's six interceptions were tied for the league's lead.
Philadelphia also held opponents to the fewest passing yards per game this season (179.8).
This is incredibly close but we're going to give the defensive advantage to San Francisco because of its stellar run-stopping ability.
Advantage: San Francisco
Philadelphia's offensive line was the league's best all season and we believe that will be the X-factor in Sunday's matchup.
San Francisco is relentless in the trenches and held opponents to the second-fewest rushing yards per game during the regular season (77.7). Meanwhile, Philadelphia ran for the fifth-most yards per game (147.6) and has averaged 163.9 yards on the ground with Hurts under centre (playoffs included).
Whichever team wins this battle will likely win the football game.
We're going to give the edge to the Eagles' offensive line for a few reasons. First off, they have Lane Johnson back at RT. The 32-year-old didn't allow a tackle or hit all season and surrendered a total of just nine hurries on 551 pass-blocking snaps, according to PFF.
Eagles quarterbacks took the second-fewest hits (24) of any team in the league this season and were tied for the eighth-fewest pressures (111).
Running the ball will be key. But if Philadelphia gets time to throw, it can take advantage of a San Francisco secondary that allowed 222.9 passing yards per game this season (20th).
Hurts was left unbothered in the pocket last weekend against New York and that's typically been the case when Philadelphia's line is 100% healthy. All five of their starters will be playing on Sunday and that should be enough to offset San Francisco's rabid rush attack.
Best Bet: Eagles -2.5 (-117)
This should be a close game but we're confident Philadelphia can win by at least a field goal at home.
The Eagles are 8-2 at Lincoln Financial Field this season and have outscored opponents by an average of 10.4 points in those games.
Hurts and the offence looked unstoppable last week, too.
San Francisco's defence is a cut above New York's but we're still confident Philadelphia will be able to move the rock in the trenches and create time for Hurts to make plays.
As for the opposing quarterback, Purdy's had a historic run but the Eagles should bring pressure all game long and force the rookie into making a mistake.