NFL Championship Game Picks, Odds & Best Bets


A 1-1 weekend in the second round of NFL players didn’t improve anything, as I’m now 6-8 as a backup to Neil Greenberg. It’s time to start winning on a more regular basis, starting with Sunday’s conference championship games, one of which includes a regular-season rematch.

San Francisco 49ers at Philadelphia Eagles (-2½)

3 p.m. | Fox, Fox Sports, Fox Sports

Pick: Philadelphia Eagles -2½

Even though the 49ers beat the Cowboys last weekend, a bit of a shine came from San Francisco quarterback Brock Purdy. His 53.1 QBR was his second lowest in seven career starts, and his 87.4 passer rating was his lowest. Purdy threw no interceptions, but he also led the 49ers by just one touchdown, averaged just 7.4 yards per attempt (the lowest of his seven starts) and made just 4 of 12 passes under pressure, averaging 4.5 yards per attempt on those throws.

Suffice it to say, Dallas had the best defense Purdy had seen so far. The Eagles defense is even better.

Philadelphia recorded 70 sacks during the regular season, the most in a season since the Minnesota Vikings in 1989, and recorded a sack on 11.4% of opponents’ comebacks, the first in the NFL by a significant margin. . (The Cowboys, for what it’s worth, ranked third in that stat and fired Purdy twice.)

The Chiefs and Bengals reunite. These title game rematches are rarer than you might think.

In terms of DVOA, the Eagles ranked second in the NFL against No. 1 wide receivers, fourth against No. 2 wide receivers, and sixth against tight ends during the regular season. San Francisco pass catchers Deebo Samuel, Brandon Aiyuk and George Kittle have totaled 57.4% of the 49ers’ receptions this year, and when Purdy is on the field, that percentage barely changes (all the more remarkable considering Samuel has missed three of Purdy’s seven starts through injury). Christian McCaffrey is San Francisco’s only other real receiving threat, and he was dealing with a calf contusion late in Sunday’s game against the Cowboys. He looks likely to play, but he could be asked to carry a bigger load if the Eagles can stop Purdy’s top three options.

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Switching sides, the 49ers rank second in the league in rushing defense (79 yards allowed per game, including the playoffs). But how much of that is because teams just haven’t run a lot against them (22.9 attempts against per game, a bit behind the Titans in the league to say the least), and how much because San Francisco played a lot of mediocre teams in a hurry? The 49ers played just three teams that ranked in the top 10 in rushing DVOA during the regular season — the Falcons, Chiefs and Raiders — and gave up at least 112 rushing yards to each of them (they have rushed for more than 100 yards only once in the regular season).

The Eagles are ranked No. 1 in the DVOA race, and San Francisco hasn’t seen an opposing quarterback that can hold its own like the Eagles’ Jalen Hurts. Frankly, the 49ers haven’t faced many quarterbacks who are a constant threat to run the ball this season. It will be a new problem for them to solve at the worst possible moment.

I think the game is shaping up extremely well for the Eagles, especially when they give up less than a field goal. Philadelphia flies to the Super Bowl.

Cincinnati Bengals (-2½) against Kansas City Chiefs

6:30 p.m. | SCS, Paramount Plus

Pick: Ja’Marr Chase for 82.5 receiving yards (FanDuel)

Since we probably won’t have a clear idea of ​​how Patrick Mahomes’ injured ankle feels until he trots (or limps) onto the court on Sunday night, it’s probably best to avoid any bets that could be impacted by the Chiefs. quarterback and instead aim for a prop involving the other side of the ball. In this case, I like that the Bengals star receiver has a big game.

Kansas City has struggled to contain opponents’ No. 1 receiver all season, ranking 31st in the NFL in DVOA against top opposing players. Mike Williams of the Chargers (8 catches, 113 yards, 1 touchdown) and Keenan Allen (5 catches for 94 yards), Mike Evans of the Bucs (8-103-2), Davante Adams of the Raiders (8-197-2 in two games ), Stefon Diggs of the Bills (10-148-1), Christian Kirk of the Jaguars (16-157-3 in two games), Jerry Jeudy of the Broncos (8-73-3) and DK Metcalf of the Seahawks (7-81) all had big games against the Chiefs.

So did Chase, who had seven catches for 97 yards against the Chiefs on Dec. 4. As a 2021 rookie, he torched the Chiefs for 266 receiving yards and three scores in the teams’ regular season meeting, then added six catches for 54 yards and another score against Kansas City in the teams’ regular season meeting. AFC championship last season.

Chase has exceeded that number seven times in 14 games this season, including six in his last nine games. It will still happen.


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