49ers @ Eagles – Sunday January 29th at 3:00 pm EST. 51 degrees Fahrenheit, cloudy.
Please say it with me: “defense wins championships…..” *long pause* “unless you have [a healthy] Patrick Mahomes on your team.” Luckily, I’m not here to write about the AFC Championship, because I have no idea how to handle that game with the Mahomes high ankle sprain.
In the City of Brotherly Love – In trots the top two ranked defenses in the NFL in regard to yards allowed per game. Nearly every champion has had a top tier pass rush that can get pressure with 4, and both Philadelphia and San Francisco have that. The 49ers have 2 linebackers that would be the best linebacker on your favorite team. Did anyone else see Fred Warner covering CeeDee Lamb last week? You know Lamb is a wide receiver, right? Philly is armed with an elite secondary that, when paired with that pass rush, allowed the fewest passing yards per game this season. Each team’s defense has their strengths and each one is elite, so how do I foresee this game going? Well, San Francisco ranked 2nd DVOA against the run and 5th DVOA against the pass while Philadelphia was 1st against the pass and 21st against the rush.
I am NOT picking Purdy over Hurts, let me make that clear. To win this game, Brock Purdy doesn’t need to be great, and I don’t really expect him to be. I and Jesster have a (not so secret) fantasy strategy where you just draft Kyle Shanahan running backs in the late rounds because you know they will hit. Much like his father, you could pick any schmo up off the street and he/she will rush for 1,000 yards in his offense. Shanahan teamed up with McCaffrey and Samuel against the Philly Run D is too hard to resist, so I won’t.
I will also mention that, multiple times throughout this season, I texted friends declaring that “I am over the Eagles and their bullshit.” Buried beneath that beautifully cryptic message, I meant that it seemed like, in some games, Philly was very quick to lose their offensive identity and abandon the run even though they had one of the best rushing attacks and probably the best offensive line in the league. The 49ers’ defensive unit allowed zero (0!!!) 100-yard rushers all season, so I can see that happening on Sunday. If that happens, it’ll turn into a game where Nick Bosa and the 49ers front can flip the switch to being pure pass rushers. My only concern about this game is Jalen Hurts putting up big numbers with his legs. The worst defensive game the 49ers had all season was against mighty Jarrett Stidham who was able to buy time with his legs to make big plays.
Not feeling great about my future bet of Chiefs over 49ers in the Big Game, but not because of this game.
Gimme SF +2.5 (+100)
(Editors note: I need to apologize to Thrillhouse for bashing his picks last week. I’ve learned not to underestimate the man. Take this pick, it’s money.)
The Jessters Pick:
It’s nice to head into conference championship weekend with the clear two best teams duking it out for a chance to represent the NFC in the big game (Are we allowed to say Super Bowl or is that only an advertising restriction?). Arguments can be made for why the Niners or the Eagles are the better team and I am excited to see either in Phoenix. Here’s why the Eagles are going to win.
Pressure with 4 on defense
Here’s a little secret to football. If a defense can get pressure with four rushers, they’re going to be successful. Luckily, this Eagles team has spent the year stocking up on talent. Haason Reddick went from struggling off-ball linebacker with the Cardinals to being one of the best pass rushers in the league, racking up 16 sacks this year. Josh Sweat makes the QB sweat, and there is a bevy of stars who might be a little passed their prime but they can still dial it up when they need to. While the Niners do have human mountain Trent Williams shoring up the left side, the line does have holes. Mike Mcglinchy was both top 20 in sacks allowed and penalties this year and with the likes of Reddick, Sweat and Brandon Graham pushing at him, McGlinchey could be in for a long day. Brock Purdy struggled last week against the Cowboys pass rush and he could be in for another tough day back there.
The deep ball on offense
The Niners have the best defense in the league this year. First in yards allowed, second in turnovers and first in points allowed with stars like Nick Bosa up front. The Niners defense only flaw might be defending against the deep ball. On the other hand, the Eagles might be the best deep passing team in the league. Jalen Hurts has made a gigantic leap in his ability to throw down the field this year. His passer rating on passes further than 20 yards down the middle of the field is 127.1 to the league average of 82.6 and over 100 to both deep sides of the field as well. The Eagles multiplicity in the running game helps the deep ball as well. Myles Sanders talent forces teams to keep additional guys in the box and Jalen Hurts’s legs force defenses to spy him, taking another defender out of the deep areas of the field. Once the defense is sucked in, Hurts has no trouble getting the ball into 6’1 227 lb A.J Brown’s catch radius. When Brown is covered, Devonte Smith is always open to show why he won a Heisman. The Eagles even have the offensive line to hold up against this tough Niners pass rushing unit. Look for Hurts to hurt the Niners with the deep ball
A.J Brown anytime touchdown scorer (+120)
Bengals @ Chiefs – Sunday January 29th at 6:30 pm EST. I don’t give a shit about the weather.
Mustache Mans Picks:
When it comes to gambling on sports, I’m less of an “analysis” guy and more of a “gut” guy, so I’m gonna make this short on this Friday afternoon.
My gut tells me two things:
1. Will Travis Kelce score a touchdown in an important game? Does a bear shit in the woods?
Travis Kelce anytime touchdown scorer (-115)
2. Never bet against Joe Burrow.
Bengals MoneyLine (+100)
-Thillhouse, The Jesster, Mustache Man