NFL Game Picks: Championship Round
After a couple of ugly weeks heading into the playoffs, the Eagles knocked off all of their rust in a 38-7 win over the Giants at home.
All of the big questions were answered as quarterback Jalen Hurts’s shoulder seemed to be fine as he was heavily involved in the run game. Lane Johnson also played well on his torn adductor.
It was complete domination on both sides of the ball.
San Francisco 49ers
After a very close defensive battle, the 49ers have eliminated the Dallas Cowboys 19-12 in Santa Clara.
While San Francisco’s offense seemed to get off to a slow start, their number one defense remained a force and was able to hold the Cowboys to only six points in each half.
The Niners must be dominant on both sides of the ball if they want to go into Philadelphia and have a chance to win.
Quarterback Joe Burrow roared into Buffalo and had a stunning performance, completing 64% of his passes against a solid Bills’ defense, and found Ja’Marr Chase and Hayden Hurst in the endzone.
Running Back Joe Mixon punched in a touchdown of his own from Buffalo’s 1-yard line.
Cincinnati’s defensive line limited Buffalo’s running game to only 63 yards of offense, and the secondary kept Buffalo’s passing game off of the board through four quarters.
Kansas City Chiefs
What looked like a disaster with a tight game in the first half, and Patrick Mahomes' ankle injury turned into a reminder of just how special he, and this team is. The Chiefs held Jacksonville to only 20 points last week and look ready for a rematch against Cincinnati.
Mahomes’ high ankle sprain was not enough to hold him out of the last game, and it for sure won’t for this matchup against a familiar foe that continues to talk.
NFC Championship Preview - San Francisco 49ers @ Philadelphia Eagles (Sunday 3:00 p.m.)
The Eagles are looking to defend their home turf against the 49ers and punch their ticket to the Super Bowl.
As expected, it is not going to be an easy task going up against that formidable defense of the 49ers, and it starts and will end with the battle in the trenches.
Nick Bosa, the favorite to win defensive player of the year as he led the league with 18.5 sacks, and Arik Armstead lead that dangerous front.
However, the Eagles have the offensive line to counter their attack as they boast three pro bowlers in Jason Kelce, Landon Dickerson and Lane Johnson.
If Jalen Hurts gets time in the pocket, look for them to go deep.
On passes 25 yards or more down the field, Jalen Hurts has the most touchdowns and the highest passer rating in the NFL. The 49ers rank bottom five in the NFL on passes 25 yards or more down the field.
On defense, it is simple. They need to win on first down and put pressure on Brock Purdy, the seventh-round rookie.
This game will be determined one way and that way is in the trenches of the lines. Both of these teams' offensive and defensive lines have carried them throughout the season, now they go head to head.
There is no doubt that Lincoln Financial Field is one of the hardest places to play in the NFL. Philly will be rocking and Brock Purdy needs to find a way to stay composed and protected in the pocket.
The 49ers' strong offensive line in Trent Williams, Aaron Banks and Mike McGlinchey needs to battle and stop some of the best premier pass rushers in Haasan Redick, Brandon Graham, Josh Sweat and Javon Hargrave.
While the 49ers' front of the defense may be their strength, the secondary needs to perform against the Eagles' deep ball going to DeVonta Smith and A.J. Brown.
If Brock Purdy finds time in the pocket he needs to hit his main targets in Deebo Samuel, George Kittle and Brandon Aiyuk.
AFC Championship Preview - Cincinnati Bengals @ Kansas City Chiefs (Sunday 6:30 p.m.)
The Bengals will head to GEHA Field at Arrowhead Stadium on Sunday night to face off against the Kansas City Chiefs who will play in their fifth straight AFC Conference Championship game.
Kansas City is coming into this game with a vengeance getting the rematch of the game they have been thinking about all offseason. Quarterback Patrick Mahomes will need to have a career game in order to capture this AFC Title.
The Chiefs' biggest weakness remains in the secondary which doesn’t bode well for a team with a three-headed wide receiving core in Ja’Marr Chase, Tee Higgins and Tyler Boyd.
Defensive Coordinator Steve Spagnuolo needs to force Cincinnati to run the football.
If Andy Reid’s team allows Burrow to give his weapons early and often chances to make plays it could be another long offseason for the Chiefs. Kansas City is going to need weapons other than Juju Smith-Schuster and Travis Kelce to produce.
Look for them to try to involve wide receiver Marquez Valdes-Scantling and running back Isiah Pacheco in the passing game as well.
The Bengals have not been shy about wanting to play this Chiefs team even referring to Arrowhead Stadium as “Burrowhead”.
The Bengals may be forgetting who they're talking to in a really experienced Super Bowl-winning team in Kansas City. The winner on Sunday will crown the best quarterback in the league and expect number fifteen to be ready.
Quarterback Joe Burrow will need to get the ball out of his hands quickly this Sunday to prevent Kansas City’s defense from collapsing the pocket as they have done all season.
Joe Mixon will have to run hard to gain any traction against Kansas City’s run defense which has only given up 1,823 yards of rushing offense this season, the eighth least in the NFL.
This will be a battle won in the trenches and in the air, as both teams have grizzled veterans on both sides of the ball.
Whichever team shows up to play gritty, physical football up front will be the team representing the AFC in Super Bowl LVII in Glendale, Arizona.
San Francisco 49ers @ Philadelphia Eagles
Owen: 49ers 24, Eagles 21
Sam: Eagles 31, 49ers 24
Jake: Eagles 30, 49ers 24
Matt: 49ers 27, Eagles 26
Cincinnati Bengals @ Kansas City Chiefs
Owen: Bengals 35, Chiefs 28
Sam: Chiefs 32, Bengals 28
Jake: Chiefs 31, Bengals 30
Matt: Bengals 34, Chiefs 31
Owen Gelber is a first-year majoring in broadcast-journalism. To contact him, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Sam Kirk is a third-year majoring in broadcast-journalism. To contact him email email@example.com.
Jake Hernick is a second-year majoring in broadcast-journalism. To contact him, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Matt Cabram is a third-year majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email email@example.com.
About the Contributors
Junior / Broadcast Journalism
Sam Kirk is a junior majoring in broadcast journalism at Penn State. He is a writer and podcaster for the CommRadio sports department. He is also featured weekly in the CommRadio news department on Thursday newcasts. Sam has written articles all across the board that deal with baseball, football and basketball. He is also working for a football media company called Inside the Hashes, writing articles, interviewing players and contributing to their YouTube channel.
Freshman / Broadcast Journalism
Jake Hernick is a freshman from Chadds Ford, Pennsylvania. Jake is pursuing a career in broadcast journalism with hopes of becoming a sports broadcaster or sports talk show host.
Third / Broadcast Journalist