NFC Championship Analysis
The Philadelphia Eagles will take on the San Francisco 49ers in the NFC Championship this Sunday. In their matchup last season the 49ers came out on top 17-11. However, these are two completely different teams this time around.
The Eagles are coming off an overall dominant performance of 38-7 against NFC East rival New York Giants. The number-one seed Eagles controlled the game in all three phases. They were able to punch the ball into the end zone four times in the first half and were able to close out the divisional round game early.
The Eagles won the total yards battle by 416 to the Giants’ 227. The Giants simply had no answers on either side of the ball to get anything going for them all game. The explosive offense and lockdown defense sure came to play in their first playoff game this season. The Eagles will certainly have their hands full against the 49ers who have not lost a game since October.
The San Francisco 49ers are coming off an impressive win of 19-12 over the Dallas Cowboys. They were able to contain the Cowboys’ high-powered offense which inevitably won them the game. On the offensive side of the ball, they did tend to struggle throughout the game. Facing another strong defense this week could cause some problems for rookie Brock Purdy.
Nonetheless, the 49ers have stars at almost every position and always play hard every game. If one defense can stop the Eagles’ offense it would be San Fran’s defensive coordinator DeMeco Ryans. Last game truly showed how good of a young coach he is, and this game will be his toughest outing yet. This will certainly be a ‘must-see’ football game this Sunday.
QB Matchup: Jalen Hurts vs Brock Purdy
Jalen Hurts is a top-five finalist to win MVP this season. He has surpassed everyone’s expectations and has a bright career ahead. With that being said, this game will certainly be the toughest game of his life.
Last week Hurts completed 16 passes on 24 attempts with 154 yards and two touchdowns. He added another 34 yards and one touchdown on the ground. Hurts’ best ability is his ability to use his feet and it will be needed this week. With All-Pros like DE Nick Bosa and LB Fred Warner rushing him he’ll need to make plays out of the pocket.
The possible MVP will also need to not turn the ball over. The 49ers’ defense forced two interceptions last week against Dak Prescott, both leading to scores. If Hurts stays composed in the big moments and doesn’t turn the ball over, the Eagles should continue to do what they have done all season, win ball games.
Brock Purdy is entering his eighth start as an NFL quarterback. Mr. Irrelevant has played like a seasoned veteran quarterback up to this point. Head coach Kyle Shanahan has said that Purdy is the most composed rookie he has ever been around in his career.
Against the Cowboys, he completed 19 passes for 214 yards. There were times the Dallas defense seemed to affect his play but overall Purdy was able to stand in there and play his game. The most important thing he has done is not to turn the ball over, however, the Cowboys dropped two potential interceptions.
This will also be Purdy’s hardest test yet. The 49ers will be in a competitive game as long as he does not turn the ball over. His playmakers will make plays at the end of the day.
Eagles’ Keys to Winning
Contain the Playmakers: The 49ers have top-10 talent at every skill position on offense. Along with Kyle Shanahan having one of the best offensive minds in football, this team is hard to stop. Christian McCaffery, Deebo Samuel, and George Kittle are all bound to make plays throughout the game but the Eagles have to limit and contain them as much as possible.
Stopping one playmaker is hard enough but when you are going against three All-Pros that task is that much more difficult. The Cowboys were able to control Samuel and McCaffrey but then Kittle was able to explode for 95 yards of five receptions along with some huge plays.
DC Jonathan Gannon will have his hands full this week trying to stop all three. The Eagles have enough talent on defense to match their star-powered offense. But the Eagles’ defensive playmakers will need to make some big plays themselves to move on to Arizona for the big game.
Hurts Has to Make Plays: As I’ve stated all the way back to the offseason, this team goes as Hurts goes. If Hurts can continue to do what he has done all season then the Eagles should certainly win and move on to the Super Bowl.
He has playmakers all around him similar to the 49ers. A.J. Brown, Dallas Goedert, and DeVonta Smith are all at Hurts’ disposal on the outside. Every week Hurts has been able to get the ball to his playmakers or make plays on his feet and that will be key in taking down the 49ers this Sunday.
Final Prediction: Eagles 24 – 49ers 20
I think the Eagles will move on to their second Super Bowl in four years this Sunday. This will certainly be their toughest competition of the season and this game will more than likely go down to the final series to be decided.
All season the Eagles have dominated opponents and it’s hard to see them losing at home in January against the seventh-round rookie in his eighth NFL start. However, if the 49ers get some breaks down the stretch this game could go in their favor.
That’s what is great about football ‘any given Sunday’. This NFC Championship will be one to remember as the league’s best offense (Eagles) takes on the league’s best defense (49ers) statistically speaking.
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