Championship weekend is here!
So here we are, ladies and gentlemen. After two incredibly exciting weekends with NFL Super Wild Card Weekend and the Divisional Playoffs, we’ve now arrived at one of the best weekends in sports — the San Francisco 49ers and Philadelphia Eagles square off for the NFC Championship, while the Cincinnati Bengals and Kansas City Chiefs fight for the AFC crown.
Last weekend taught us more about the four teams who made it to the conference championship round, giving us more of an insight on the prospects of each one potentially winning the Super Bowl.
The Chiefs unsurprisingly made it to the AFC Championship, but only after making it past a scrappy Jacksonville Jaguars team that lost by a single touchdown. With the game being so close, you can’t help but to ask: was it because Kansas City was looking ahead, or is it something to be concerned about heading into the game against the Bengals?
And speaking of Cincinnati, they are coming into this game looking absolutely beautiful at the moment, with Joe Burrow once again riding a wave of hype just like he did in last year’s playoffs. The way they dominated Buffalo in the snow? *Chef’s kiss*. The Chiefs will most certainly have their work cut out for them (again).
In the NFC, you have the Eagles, who — just like the Bengals — are coming into their conference championship game looking hotter than a dimepiece on South Beach … well, maybe Fort Lauderdale (women in Miami are just too hot to compete with), but you get my point. They crushed their rival New York Giants, and quite frankly, you’ve got to view them as a significant favorite to get to the Super Bowl over the 49ers with how good they look right now. I’m loving the state of the Eagles right now. Shout out to Philadelphia, and shout out to all of the Philly readers who have been sending me love mail!
And with San Francisco, yeah, they pulled out the win over the Dallas Cowboys, but they looked shit while doing it, and I do not trust Brock Purdy at all against the offensive powerhouse Jalen Hurts. I already said that I’m placing the Eagles as the significant favorite in this game, so I’m obviously gonna slap that hefty underdog label on the Niners. I just don’t like this matchup for them against a Philly team that is straight-up swaggin’ out right now.
Now that I’ve given you my thoughts on each team and where I stand on them heading into Championship Sunday, let’s go ahead and get into my predictions. Last week, I went 3-1 with my picks, bringing me to an 8-2 overall record (I was 5-1 on wild card weekend).
And without further ado, here’s your favorite hot take artist’s NFL Conference Championship Sunday predictions.
2023 NFL CONFERENCE CHAMPIONSHIP SUNDAY PREDICTIONS
SUNDAY, JAN. 29
(betting odds via Barstool Sportsbook)
San Francisco 49ers at Philadelphia Eagles (-2.5), 3:00 PM (TV: FOX) (NFC Conf. Championship)
What many people are viewing as a matchup between the two best NFC teams all season … I’m not. In the betting odds, the Philadelphia Eagles are the 2.5-point favorite, but as far as the Andrew Powell Sportsbook (which doesn’t exist so don’t send me any money) is concerned, I’d put Philly up to at least -6.5.
This is a game where I could see the Birds coming out of the gate strong, even deciding the game in the first quarter. I’m dead serious, I do not trust San Francisco in this game at all. And with both teams being good performers while having the lead, I think Philly will have the leverage with their high-powered offense. And speaking of that offense, San Francisco knows they can’t rely too much on Purdy, which immediately spells trouble against Hurts. Also, let’s not forget that the Eagles defense is built to rush quarterbacks.
The Niners have a bit of a saving grace with the Eagles struggling against the run this season, and that will bode well for Christian McCaffrey, but an elite running game isn’t going to beat a 30-to-40 point Eagles offense. And yeah, you can make the argument that San Francisco is the more balanced team, but I just don’t think it matters with how deep Philly is, especially at the most crucial positions on the field.
Back in my original NFL Playoffs prediction piece, I had the San Francisco 49ers over the Philadelphia Eagles in the NFC Championship, but after last week, I’m completely scrapping that. Jalen Hurts is the main reason. Not only can he move the chains on his legs, but his deep ball is beautiful and, to opponents, lethal. With the Niners, I didn’t like any of that ugly game against the Cowboys, and if that’s their level of play at this point in the season, this is an easy selection for me.
I’ll take the Eagles for the win and to cover my spread (and the official one) — these guys are just too good at the right time. Plus, it’s going to be hard to bet against this:
It’s refreshing to see an NFL coach actually exude passion and excitement and not be a mundane, coach-speak robot with no personality.
Nick Sirianni is so Philadelphia and Philly wouldn’t have it any other way.
Hate if you want: he’s 24-12 as a HC pic.twitter.com/ORl4F9IWQ2
— Chase Senior (@Chase_Senior) January 22, 2023
The swag is unreal.
PREDICTION: Philadelphia Eagles 31, San Francisco 49ers 20
Cincinnati Bengals (PK) at Kansas City Chiefs (PK), 6:30 PM (TV: CBS) (AFC Conf. Championship)
Of the two championship games, this is certainly going to be the more exciting one.
Coming into the game, it’s important to keep in mind that Patrick Mahomes has a high ankle sprain. On paper, it sounds like a bit of a problem for the Kansas City Chiefs, but statistically, it’s not. With the sprain, Mahomes is going to be forced to stay in the pocket, and if you’re a KC fan, you have to be loving the fact that he’s No. 1 in the entire NFL for inside-the-pocket touchdowns. And did anybody notice that Mahomes actually got better after he got hurt and was forced to stay inside?
Another saving grace for the Chiefs with Mahomes being hurt: Their running game has been elite to close out the campaign and they’ve been playing well in the postseason, so if Andy Reid is forced to stay on the ground, he’ll be able to move the ball significantly without having to rely on Mahomes. On top of that, the offensive line is built to protect the runners more than their quarterback. So, as you see, the Chiefs have a solid backup plan.
Kansas City is sitting pretty coming into this game, and even though it’s going to be tough for me to pick against them, I’m thinking I have to side with the Cincinnati Bengals here. Like the Chiefs, the Bengals also come into this game riding a wave of glory, but in the Andrew Powell Sportsbook (which, again, is not real), I have Cincy as a -1.5 point favorite. And why?
Well, it’s simple. Not only do the Bengals have the superior defense that will hassle Mahomes and KC’s running game all night, but the size of Cincinnati wide receivers Tee Higgins and Ja’Marr Chase has to scare the hell out of the undersized secondary of the Chiefs, and then on top of that, they’re catching spirals from Joe Burrow. With all this in mind, I have to give both the offensive and defensive advantage to the Bengals.
Now don’t get me wrong, it’s not like Cincinnati is going to be able to completely shut down Kansas City or anything like that, but their defense is great at adjusting week to week and excellent at switching things up immediately mid-game, which could seroiusly limit the Chiefs’ offensive attack. This is a game that will be dominated by offense, sure, but with the playmakers the Bengals have on the defensive side of the ball, I look for a big play to be the deciding factor that takes Cincinnati to the Super Bowl (again) after beating the Chiefs … well, again. (RELATED: ‘Looked Like Some Jerk Off’: Bill Burr Has Had Just About Enough Of Philadelphia Eagles Head Coach Nick Sirianni)
The Bengals’ mixed traits of consistency, veteran experience and fresh youth are just tough to compete against, especially when they have the leverage on each side of the ball. Plus, I’m not picking against Joe “Stealin’ Your Girlfriend” Burrow — that’s not happening at all. Give me the Cincinnati Bengals for the win and to cover my spread.
Eagles vs. Bengals in Super Bowl LVII, baby! LFG!!!
PREDICTION: Cincinnati Bengals 34, Kansas City Chiefs 31
NFL PLAYOFFS PREDICTIONS RECORD: 8-2