The Super Bowl is decided today with the Eagles vs 49ers and Chiefs vs Bengals
Two teams can punch their tickets to the Super Bowl on February 12. Will it be the Eagles or 49ers, and will they face the Chiefs or Bengals?
Four teams are slugging it out for only two passes to the Super Bowl. The Championship round of the NFL playoffs will decide which two teams will represent the AFC and NFC in the Super Bowl on February 12 in Arizona.
The Philadelphia Eagles vs San Francisco 49ers duel (3:00 p.m. ET) will crown the champion of the National Conference, while the king of the American Conference will come out of the game between the Kansas City Chiefs and Cincinnati Bengals (6:30 p.m. ET).
Three of these four teams are repeating from last year as challengers in this round, so there is no argument that the four best teams in the NFL are the ones taking the field today.
Philadelphia Eagles - San Francisco 49ers (3:00 p.m. ET)
The sturdiness of the Eagles, clashing with the fairy tale of Purdy (though Purdy was injured in the 1st quarter and Josh Johnson replaced him) and the 49ers. San Francisco’s quarterback, last year’s Mr Irrelevant, so named by virtue of being the last person chosen in the Draft, found himself starting after injuries to Trey Lance and Jimmy Garoppolo and has yet to taste defeat in the NFL.
Brock Purdy has won all eight games that he has played in, including seven starts, en route to a 12 game win streak for the 49ers. The 23-year-old is aiming to become the first rookie in history to win a Championship game and head to the Super Bowl.
Weapons are not something that San Fran lacks: running back Christian McCaffrey is a key reason behind the 49ers’ winning streak, and Deebo Samuel, Brandon Aiyuk and George Kittle are all firing at full strength. San Francisco wants revenge for last year’s Championship loss to the Rams in a tight game.
The 49ers’ main insurance is their defense, statistically the best in the league. Players like Nick Bosa and Fred Warner are essential in Kyle Shanahan’s team, able to step it up when the attack falters, as it did last weekend, when San Francisco struggled to beat the problematic Dallas Cowboys.
It was the toughest defense Brock Purdy had faced in his career, and you can expect a very similar approach today at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia. San Francisco, looking for sixth ring, will play in the 18th Championship game in their history, more than any other team in the NFL. The last time they reached the Super Bowl was in 2019, where they lost to the Chiefs, and now they want to go back and keep their dream alive with Brock Purdy.
If the 49ers are the all-time kings of the Championship game, then the Eagles are too, albeit only in this century. Since the turn of the millennium, Philadelphia has reached seven conference finals, more than anyone else during this time span.
Last week, Philadelphia ran over some fairly weak Giants, and showed their credentials as claimants for the title. Quartback Jalen Hurts is just coming into his own this season, and the trio of Miles Sanders, A.J. Brown and DeVonta Smith presents a real headache for their rivals.
The Eagles tend to win by attrition, and they will be a stiff wall against San Francisco. If they manage to damage the 49ers’ offensive line and not give Purdy too much time in the pocket, the Eagles stand a good chance of returning to the Super Bowl for the first time since 2017, when they won the only ring in their team’s history.
Kansas City Chiefs - Cincinnati Bengals (6:30 p.m. ET)
The fourth installation of the Mahomes-Burrow duel has, for the second year in a row, a ticket to the Super Bowl at stake. The duel between these two amazing quarterbacks of these teams is steadily becoming an NFL classic.
So far, all three times they have met have been won by the Bengals, with all games decided by possession. Their confrontation last postseason, in which Burrow led Cincinnati to the Super Bowl for the first time since 1988, saw how the 26-year-old quarterback has changed the face of a historically losing franchise. In the two years that he’s been healthy, Burrow has marched his team into the AFC Championship, something the Bengals had done only twice in their history before Joe’s arrival.
Arrowhead Stadium will host a Championship game for the fifth consecutive year, the same number of seasons that Patrick Mahomes has been a starter for the Chiefs. All eyes are on the Kansas City quarterback’s ankle, which suffered a nasty sprain last weekend against the Jacksonville Jaguars. In a display of integrity, Mahomes returned to the game and ended up winning on one leg.
As if nothing had happened, the favorite for the league MVP trained normally this week, and could even be seen walking without problems after giving a press conference. A true superhero, he is finding Burrow to be his greatest antagonist. The last time these two outstanding players met was this season, at the beginning of December, with a 27-24 home win for the Bengals.
For this revenge-flavored duel, Mahomes will frequently turn to a seemingly-unstoppable Travis Kelce. In the Divisional round, he became the tight end with the most receptions in the history of a playoff game (14), and the Mahomes-Kelce connection is on the verge of becoming the one that has produced the most touchdowns in the postseason.
Kansas City’s other receivers don’t shine quite as brightly, although guys like JuJu Smith-Schuster, Mecole Hardman, or even Jerrick McKinnon (a running back who does double duty as a receiver) are capable of turning big plays.
Nor is the Chiefs defense particularly strong, so the chances for KC are pretty much entirely in Mahomes’ hands. The Bengals can trust a little more in their defense (they already showed it in the Wild Card game against the Ravens), while in attack the man to watch is Ja’Marr Chase, Burrow’s trusty receiver. In addition, against the Bills they reactivated the running game, with a Joe Mixon who can give the Chiefs a lot of trouble. Two games of maximum emotion to award two tickets to the Super Bowl.
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