It’s almost here.
After more than a week of waiting, the NFC Championship Game will be played in mere hours, a titanic match-up between the San Francisco 49ers and your Philadelphia Eagles. After seven days of analyzing X’s and O’s, plowing through game film, sleuthing injury reports and finalizing tailgate plans, Birds fans will soon watch their team take the field with a chance to reach their fourth Super Bowl in franchise history.
The Eagles head into Sunday’s game as 2.5-point favorites according to DraftKings, despite home teams generally receiving a 3-point advantage. San Francisco is riding a 12-game winning streak, seven of them with third-string, seventh-round draft pick Brock Purdy hoping to become the first rookie QB in the Super Bowl era to win a conference title game.
According to our most recent SB Nation Reacts survey, the vibes are pristine for the Birds right now.
Perhaps one shouldn’t be surprised by that number when you consider the Eagles are 15-1 with Jalen Hurts as the starter, are coming off a 38-7 waxing of the Giants in the NFC Divisional round, have all 22 starters healthy and expecting to start on Sunday, with home field advantage, one fewer playoff game and one extra day of rest under their belts.
This will be just the third start for Purdy on the road and his first outside of the west coast (Seattle and Las Vegas the others). In my mind, the pick this Sunday is clear.
On my latest Eye on the Enemy podcast, @StatsOnFire joined me for our big NFC Championship Game preview. Here's why I think the #Eagles will win, and it won't be all that close.https://t.co/Cuztd6NNMF pic.twitter.com/Nmwomx201N— John Stolnis (@JohnStolnis) January 27, 2023
If you believe, like me, the Eagles will win this game on Sunday afternoon (I’m predicting a fairly comfortable 30-17 win), all eyes will shift to the AFC Championship Game that will follow, with the red-hot Cincinnati Bengals traveling to Kansas City to take on the presumptive, and possibly injury-hampered, league MVP Patrick Mahomes. Joe Burrow has been a postseason magician on the road over the last two years, the Bengals have weapons galore, and the Chiefs struggled a bit to handle the Jacksonville Jaguars in the divisional round at home.
Despite being the home team, Kansas City is just a 1.5-point favorite, according to DraftKings. If the Eagles take care of business and beat the Niners on Sunday, our recent poll wanted to know which team you’d rather face two weeks from Sunday.
Of course, some of the 57% vote is sentimental. It would be fascinating to play Andy Reid in the Super Bowl, with a chance to beat their former coach in his quest for a second Super Bowl, but also may be due to the fact the Bengals look like the better team right now. Burrow is downright scary, but I think people are forgetting how scary Mahomes is.
To be fair, no one knows how his ankle will limit him, if at all, in the AFC Championship, and should the Eagles fail to beat San Francisco, no one in Philadelphia will really care.
Should the unthinkable happen, how would you view the 2023 season?
Only 3 in 10 Birds fans would view the 2023 season as anything other than some kind of disappointment and, I must agree.
Straight-up, the Eagles cannot lose to Brock Purdy at home after a 14-3 regular season and 15-1 record with Hurts at QB. They just can’t. The 49ers are good, but Philadelphia has a superior roster. Everything has lined up for them to get there, and if they fail to take advantage, the season would have to at least be considered a mild, if not major, disappointment.
Here’s hoping we won’t be having that conversation by the time 7pm rolls around on Sunday night.
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