Football Friday

January 27, 2023

Brock, you ready?

Philly’s own Devan Kaney says a trip to Lincoln Financial might finally be Mr. Irrelevant’s kryptonite

“He might be undefeated in his NFL career, but Brock Purdy has never played in Philadelphia.”

From Devan Kaney, a Philly faithful and SuperBook Sports insider, true words have never been spoken.

“The only crowd he has played in front of that would have presented even a bit of a problem was Seattle,” says Kaney, “and I have a feeling Sunday’s Philly crowd might not be as nice to the rookie quarterback. Purdy has also had a few shaky games. Even in the Niners game against the Cowboys, he was almost picked off several times. If the Eagles defense comes out aggressive and gets in Purdy’s face, we could see him throw the ball to Darius Slay, James Bradberry or CJ Gardner Johnson.” 

The Xs and Os are one thing – let’s not kid around – both teams in the NFC Championship are sharp as tacks. And while Lincoln Financial might feature the rock-hard AstroTurf that maimed the likes of Michael Irving, these are still the same folks who booed Santa Claus.

Kaney gets the feeling there might be a little extra in the air on Sunday.

“As the wise man Jason Kelce once said, ‘We’re from Philly. No one likes us. We don’t care.’ It’s how it’s been all season,” she says of the local sentiment that the Eagles have gotten no respect this season. “First it was that the Eagles hadn’t played a good team, then it was a good quarterback, then it was that the Eagles couldn’t stop the run and on and on it goes. The Eagles and its fans know how talented this team is and how much passion the crowd will bring on Sunday, and that’s all that matters. 

“Honestly the line seems a bit disrespectful, but I suppose we are used to being disrespected in Philly. Here is a team that has been far and away the best team in the league, with the best record, and arguably the MVP at quarterback and yet the Eagles are only a 2.5-point favorite at home? The good news is Philadelphia and its teams – and especially Jalen Hurts – thrive off proving doubters wrong.”

And Brock, it might not be a good idea to forward this one to your mother.  

And Then There Were Four…

Previewing the AFC and NFC Championship Games

© Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

San Francisco 49ers at Philadelphia Eagles
Lincoln Financial Field – Philadelphia, PA
1:00 PM ET
SuperBook Line: Philadelphia -2.5

The Eagles haven’t made it to the conference championship since they won the Super Bowl in 2017. On the other side, it’s the 49ers, who made it to this stage just last year when they fell short to the eventual champions, the Rams.

In a game between the undoubtedly two best teams in the NFC, it is extremely hard to predict who will win this one. San Francisco is on a 12-game winning streak and doesn’t look to be slowing down. Philadelphia was expected to show a little rust in their Divisional Playoff matchup, but the Eagles showed no signs of misalignment as they stomped all over the Giants, winning 38-7.

Both teams have remarkably talented rosters with a ton firepower. That is what makes this one so incredibly difficult to pick. The 49ers have the league’s fourth-ranked offense and top-ranked defense. The Eagles have the league’s second-ranked offense with the sixth-best defense.

With those stats, there is no clear advantage for either team. Both have stout defenses, with San Francisco’s edging out Philly’s by a small margin. And both have high-flying offenses, with Philly’s being slightly better.

Despite the 49ers making it to the NFC Championship Game last year, it is uncharted territory for their quarterback, Brock Purdy, who continues to defy the odds and silence everyone who has told him that these types of moments are too big. Who knows? Maybe the moment may become too big for Purdy, but it’s no bigger for him than it is for Jalen Hurts, who is also in uncharted territory.

The biggest and only difference in this game is the experience. Ninety percent of the San Francisco roster has been here before, whereas for Philadelphia, it’s far less than that as they haven’t made it this far in five years. A.J. Brown, Devonta Smith, Miles Sanders and Hurts are all unfamiliar with this sort of pressure. But Deebo Samuel, George Kittle, Brandon Aiyuk and especially Kyle Shanahan are not.

Experience, coupled with their winning streak, gives the 49ers the advantage in this one. They’ll pull the upset on the road.

Steve Quinne’s pick: San Francisco M/L (+125)


© Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports

Cincinnati Bengals at Kansas City Chiefs
Arrowhead Stadium – Kansas City, MO
4:30 PM ET
SuperBook Line: Kansas City -1.0

When a home team is only getting one point, that is usually taken as a bad sign. Especially when it’s the Chiefs, who seem to be heavily favored in every game they play.

This one is different, though. Not only are the Chiefs a slight favorite, but they might not even be the best team. The Bengals are seemingly unstoppable right now, particularly because they torched the Bills by a 27-10 count in a game most thought would be close.

Cincinnati ran roughshod over Buffalo. The Bengals threw for 242 yards and ran for another 172.

Joe Burrow led his team to a 10th straight victory and stayed on par with his “Joe Cool” personality as he stated in his postgame interview, “Better send those refunds.”

The comment was directed to the fans who had previously bought tickets to a neutral-site AFC title game between the Bills and Chiefs. Instead, NFL fans will be watching Bengals-Chiefs, a rematch of last year’s AFC title game in which Cincinnati prevailed. Burrow has never lost to Patrick Mahomes and he will be trying to make it four straight victories with a win.

As far as statistics go, this is fairly even, as the Bengals hold the seventh-best offense and fifth-best defense, while the Chiefs own the best offense in the NFL and the 16th-ranked defense. Cincinnati is more balanced, which may prove to be very helpful in a game like this.

It shapes up to be an epic, action-packed, offensive battle between two of the best quarterbacks in the league. However, it may come down to whichever team can stop the other. That would favor the Bengals.

They held Josh Allen and the Bills to just 10 points on the road and now they will have the chance to do the same to Mahomes and the Chiefs. The fact that Kansas City’s quarterback may be a little gimpy helps Cincy’s cause.

Mahomes suffered a high ankle sprain in the win over Jacksonville. He was able to play through it and has already said he will be ready for Sunday, but one has to assume that it will be a factor come game time.

All in all, it’s another tough game to pick. But while one side has some negatives to point out, the other has none. The Bengals train is rolling and don’t expect it to stop any time soon. Another road team gets the W

Steve Quinne’s pick: Cincinnati M/L (+100)

Prop Shop

© Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

Jalen Hurts over 1.5 passing touchdowns (-102)

As more of a dual-threat quarterback, Hurts isn’t typically viewed as a prolific passer. After all, he only threw 22 touchdowns on the season. But he did toss two or more scores in nine games this season, including last week’s victory over the Giants. The 49ers defense is stout, but Hurts has been tough to bottle up this season.


© Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

Travis Kelce over 78.5 receiving yards (-115)

In big games, it seems like Kelce is everywhere. That was certainly the case in Kansas City’s win over Jacksonville, as the Chiefs tight end had a monster day. He caught 14 passes for 98 yards and two touchdowns against the Jaguars. So far this season, Kelce has eclipsed 78 receiving yards 12 times, making it far more likely than not that he does it again.