Baltimore Sun staff writers pick every game of the NFL season. Here’s who they have winning in the conference championship games:
NFC: San Francisco 49ers at Philadelphia Eagles (Sunday, 3 p.m., Fox)
Hayes Gardner (15-9 overall, 3-1 last week): 49ers 23, Eagles 20: In a matchup of two very complete teams, I’ll take the 49ers, who have won 12 straight games and haven’t shown many signs of stopping. The last time these quarterbacks faced each other, Jalen Hurts and Oklahoma beat Brock Purdy and Iowa State, 42-41, in 2019. Hurts passed and rushed for five touchdowns and Purdy totaled six (including the game’s final score to now-Ravens tight end Charlie Kolar). I don’t expect it’ll be quite so high-scoring, but I do expect it to be decided by a few points.
Childs Walker (188-90-2 overall, 3-1 last week): 49ers 27, Eagles 24: Beware a team that looked too good the previous week, and that was the Eagles in their blowout of the Giants. This will be a collision of loaded, balanced rosters. Quarterback Jalen Hurts is better than Brock Purdy, but the 49ers have so many looks they can throw at the Eagles, and their defense is the best remaining.
Ryan McFadden (170-108-2 overall, 2-2 last week): 49ers 23, Eagles 21: San Francisco’s defense has been the best in football and that will be a key factor against the Eagles. The 49ers will be able hold off Philadelphia long enough for rookie quarterback Brock Purdy to make some big plays in clutch situations.
Mike Preston (169-110-2 overall, 3-1 last week): Eagles 21, 49ers 17: Philadelphia is the most complete and balanced team in the NFL. The Eagles have proved that all season and will again versus San Francisco. The 49ers have a great defense and run to the ball extremely well, and they are just as aggressive in the secondary. A week ago, the Cowboys failed to take the middle of the field away from 49ers rookie quarterback Brock Purdy, but the Eagles won’t make the same mistake. Quarterbacks prove themselves in the postseason and Philadelphia’s Jalen Hurts is on a mission.
AFC: Cincinnati Bengals at Kansas City Chiefs (Sunday, 6:30 p.m., CBS)
Hayes Gardner: Chiefs 30, Bengals 24: If the Bengals win, the Ravens will have, perhaps, come one goal-line play short of beating the AFC champions in the playoffs. But I don’t think that will happen. Patrick Mahomes will be healthy enough and the Chiefs will avenge last year’s loss.
Childs Walker: Bengals 30, Chiefs 24: The Bengals have no fear of going to Kansas City after they won the AFC championship there last season and followed up with another victory over the Chiefs last month. Their dominant win in Buffalo wiped away any doubts lingering from their close brush with the Ravens. This pick might be different had Patrick Mahomes not hurt his ankle, but Joe Burrow is the healthier quarterback, and he has superior offensive weapons to play with.
Ryan McFadden: Chiefs 27, Bengals 24: This game has all the makings of a back-and-forth contest between two of the top quarterbacks in the league. In the end, the Chiefs will avenge last year’s postseason loss to the Bengals and get back to the Super Bowl. Expect a big game from quarterback Patrick Mahomes and tight end Travis Kelce.
Mike Preston: Bengals 27, Chiefs 24: Under normal circumstances, I would take Patrick Mahomes against any quarterback because he is the best in the NFL. But it’s hard to rebound from a high ankle sprain, so his movement will likely be limited. If that is indeed the case, Cincinnati should prevail because quarterback Joe Burrow is a notch below Mahomes and the injury will be the great neutralizer. Another thing to keep an eye on is whether the Bengals can get the running game going with halfback Joe Mixon because the Chiefs have struggled defending the run this year. On the flip side, Kansas City has some pass rushers who can make life miserable for Burrow, especially if Cincinnati is missing two or three starters on the offensive line like it was against the Ravens.
Source: Berkshire mont
Be First to Comment