NFL Championship Games Preview
Well the NFL’s Divisional playoff round was a lot less compelling than a very exciting Wildcard weekend the week before. Only the matchup between the Cowboys and the 49ers was really in doubt in the final minutes. That being said, the AFC and the NFC Championship games look to be classic contests.
2. 49ers vs 1. Eagles Sunday, January 29 at 2:00pm CT on FOX:
The 49ers (15-4) outlasted a scrappy Cowboys team to take home an ugly 19-12 victory in the Divisional round. The defense intercepted quarterback Dak Prescott two times and held Dallas to just a single touchdown. Rookie QB Brock Purdy was solid and avoided making any crucial mistakes.
The Cowboys defense did a very good job of smothering Christian McCaffrey, Deebo Samuel and the other San Francisco weapons. Dallas’ top receiver CeeDee Lamb had a big game putting up 117 yards on 10 catches. The Niners will need a much more complete effort if they are going to beat the Eagles Sunday.
Philadelphia (15-3) showed no rust from their bye week as they destroyed the New York Giants Saturday night. Quarterback Jalen Hurts appeared to be healthy as he led his team to 28 unanswered points in the first half. Eagles running backs gashed the Giants for 268 yards on the ground.
Philly completely stifled Daniel Jones and Saquon Barkley and New York only scored a single touchdown in the 38-7 rout. Things went so smoothly in fact, that there really isn’t anything to complain about in the Eagles performance. It probably will not be so easy against a talented 49er team.
This is a matchup of two very talented defenses and probably the two best pass rushes in the NFL. Philadelphia’s dynamic quarterback will probably be the deciding factor in this game. San Francisco has an excellent run defense so the Eagles will probably need to throw the ball to win.
I think this game will go right down to the wire. Both teams are going to make big plays with the explosive weapons that are spread all over the field. A.J. Brown, the Eagles very talented wide receiver, is going to be the difference. He will exploit the flawed 49ers secondary and the home team will punch their Super Bowl ticket with a 24-21 victory.
3. Bengals vs 1. Chiefs Sunday, January 29 at 5:30pm CT on CBS:
The Bengals (14-4) looked significantly better against the Buffalo Bills than they did the week before against the Baltimore Ravens. Quarterback Joe Burrow threw for two touchdowns and running back Joe Mixon went for over 100 yards on the ground. Buffalo could do nothing to slow down the Bengals attack.
Cincinnati kept Josh Allen and the Bills offense quiet for most of the game with the help of a great pass rush. The Bengals offensive line, a big concern going in to the game, performed terrifically allowing just a single sack. After rolling 27-10, they are a trendy pick to beat Kansas City and make the Super Bowl.
The Chiefs (15-3) won their game against the Jacksonville Jaguars 27-20 and never trailed but it certainly was not without a cost. MVP quarterback Patrick Mahomes sustained a high-ankle sprain in the second quarter that hobbled him for the rest of the day. He was able to finish the game, however, his ability to move was certainly compromised.
Tight end Travis Kelce dominated on Saturday with 14 receptions and two touchdowns. Kansas City also created a couple of key turnovers to keep the Jaguars from making more of a game out of it. The Chiefs won’t be able to let Cincinnati to hang around like they did with Jacksonville and expect to win.
Mahomes injury is a huge part of the story of this AFC Championship game. If he can operate even close to his normal abilities Kansas City has an excellent chance for a third Super Bowl in five years. On the other hand, if he struggles with the ankle it might be a tough hill to climb for Andy Reid and company.
Not surprisingly, the Chiefs have not been super forthcoming, reporting only that their QB is a full participant in practice and Patrick says he feels; “better than expected.” The Bengals have two elite wide receivers, Ja’Marr Chase and Tee Higgins who are very hard to cover. I think Joe Burrow takes advantage and Cincinnati takes its second consecutive AFC Championship 24-20.