49ers @ Eagles (-2.5), O/U 46
This is the battle everyone wanted to see in the NFC all season long. Grit on grit. Loaded roster against loaded roster. I’m excited.
The 49ers have the edge at RB, D-Line, and LBs. The dynamic weapons they have offensively will be what they rely on on that side of the ball. Brock Purdy has been exactly what they’ve needed since he became the starter, but he hasn’t played a defense like this yet. Particularly on the road, in a conference championship environment, that can quite daunting. Defensively, they are unbelievably fast. And they’re dominant against the ground. But they can be beat through the air if the d-line doesn’t get home. Their main edge, which is extremely significant in this type of a game, is coaching. Kyle Shanahan has been here before, multiple times. I trust him more than I trust Nick Sirianni.
The Eagles have been the most complete team in the entire NFL all season long. They have the edge at QB, WRs/TEs, O-Line, and DBs. They can do it all on offense, particularly because they have one of the best o-lines in the league. The ground game sets the tone, which may be difficult against the Niners, but Hurts is the wild card. He seemed healthy last week, so if he can run and keep the 49ers d-line on their heels, that will be huge. But even if they can’t get the ground game going, they’re still excellent through the air. Defensively, if they have a weakness, it’s stopping the run. If they can contain the Niners there, their secondary and d-line should frustrate Purdy. The only pause I have with the Eagles is the lack of experience by Sirianni, which can show up big time in a game like this.
I’m laying the points with the Eagles. I feel good about this since it’s under a field goal. They have the edge at QB and being at home. I’m choosing to give that more weight than the 49ers edge at coach. I like the under as well, although the better play is the 49ers team total under.
Picks: Eagles -2.5 (Deadbolt), UNDER 46 (Deadbolt)
Bengals @ Chiefs (-2), O/U 48
And this is the battle everyone wanted to see if the AFC (unless you live in Buffalo). Last year’s championship game rematch. The two best teams in the AFC. Flash on flash. Top QB in the league vs. (maybe) the 2nd top QB in the league.
The Bengals own the Chiefs. They’ve beaten them 3 straight times. They had the most impressive victory last week. Offensively, they’ll spread you out with their WR trio and a QB who is playing out of his mind right now. And if you commit too much against the pass, their ground game is solid. Defensively, they have Mahomes’ number. They just do. I’ve never seen Mahomes play as poorly as he did in the 2nd half of last year’s title game.
What is the status of Mahomes’ ankle? First of all, I have no idea how it didn’t snap last week. This guy is superhuman. Second of all, how in the world has he been walking around limpless all week? I don’t get it. That is obviously crucial to the Chiefs’ chances. So much of the Mahomes Magic is off-script. So much of it is him extending plays and running around. And outside of Mahomes, this is not a loaded Chiefs roster. Offensively, it’s Mahomes and Kelce. That’s really it. Sure, they have a couple of respectable backs, but the passing game sets up the ground game for sure. Defensively, they have a solid d-line. That’s really it. I don’t think they can carry the load if the offense isn’t clicking. But Andy Reid does have the edge in experience over Zac Taylor, which again is crucial in a game like this.
I’ll take the points with the Bengals here. This line has moved dramatically all week, starting with the Chiefs as field goal favorites, going all the way to Bengals nearly a field goal favorite, and now back to Chiefs a slight favorite. I would’ve taken the Bengals regardless. Even if Mahomes’ ankle doesn’t limit him, the Bengals are simply the better team. Let’s just hope all of the “Burrowhead” and the idiotic Cincinnati mayor stuff doesn’t jynx them. I like the under as well.