AFC NFC championship
Both teams will have different reasons for wanting to get to the Super Bowl but over the last two to three years neither of these teams aren’t strangers to big games. With the Bengals having won the Super Bowl last year and the Chiefs having been dominant since they got quarterback Patrick Mahomes, both teams are looking to prove that they still have it and it’s the fourth time that these two teams are playing each other in the last year. The last two times that they played each other they swapped 27-24 wins and then the Bengals won one other game 34-31, making it three times in a row that the Chiefs and Bengals won by exactly three points so only time will tell if the same thing happens for the next one. So now onto the actual game.
So what are the keys going to be for each team to win the AFC championship?
For the Bengals, just like any other game when playing Kansas City it’s going to be to keep Patrick Mahomes in the pocket and reign in their passing game who has amassed 5,062 yards and 41 touchdowns this year. Keeping Mahomes in the pocket may be a slightly easier task than usual as he experienced an ankle injury earlier in the playoffs that he does not appear to be completely healed from. The Bengals defense proved that they can do that in their thrashing of the Bills when they held Josh Allen and company to 10 points and it’s not like Cincinatti got forced through the air either as Allen was 25-42 for only 265 yards and his only touchdown was him rushing for a touchdown.
The Chiefs defense will also have their own challenges with the Bengals, whose offense has been compared to offenses led by Peyton Manning as they will have to contend with Ja’mar Chase and Joe Mixon as the Cincinnati weapons. Now onto the NFC championship. Our Pick: Bengals
49ers @ Eagles
The 2023 NFC championship will contain two teams which took two very different paths to get here. In the 49ers case, we may very well be experiencing Bledsoe-Brady 2.0 as the 49ers original starting quarterback Jimmy Garropolo got hurt midseason and the 49ers have yet to lose, ending the regular season on a 10 game winning streak. During that time Brock Purdy has achieved a 107.3 quarterback rating and is 114-170 with 1,374 yards, 13 touchdowns and four interceptions. San Francisco also swiped in with a deal to get Christian McCaffrey from Carolina for some future draft picks to help shore up their back field.
As for the Eagles, they had a more direct approach. They acquired AJ Brown in the offseason to help complement quarterback Jalen Hurts and it’s paid off as he has 88 receptions for 1,496 yards and 11 touchdowns, leading Philadelphia to a 14-3 record on the season. So now onto the actual game.
What are the keys to the NFC championship? If the 49ers hope to advance to the Super Bowl they will have to hope that Brock Purdy doesn’t collapse under pressure and will have to keep the Eagles vaunted passing attack, which is averaging 241.5 yards per game in check. Another thing to watch for for both teams is how easily the defenses can get the offenses on the field on third down. The Eagles ranked fourth in the league in 3rd down percentage, converting 45.9 percent of the time while San Francisco is ranked sixth, just barely behind them 45 percent for the season.
If the Eagles expect to win the NFC championship look for them to try to get to Purdy early and often and anticipate his throws on defense. On offense look for them to get to the air early and often as the 49ers are ranked 20th in the league in pass defense at 222.9 yards per game. Our Pick: Eagles