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Whether you wanted head coaching drama, trade busts, or a plethora of under, this NFL season did not disappoint. The season can best be broken down into a tale of 2 conferences. The AFC boasted powerhouses such as the Buffalo Bills, Kansas City Chiefs, and Cincinnati Bengals. All of these teams made a name for themselves via their high-powered offenses. On the other hand, you had the NFC with teams such as the Dallas Cowboys, Philadelphia Eagles, and San Francisco 49ers. The NFC boasted some of the best defenses in the league, and we continue to see this conference establish their dominance on the defensive side of the ball. With two high-powered offenses and two efficient defenses facing off today, what can we expect? Let's breakdown these matchups.
It is hard to act like the Brock Purdy story is not an awesome one. The last draft pick out of Iowa State gets thrown into the ringer for a team that has a legitimate chance to win the Super Bowl, and just ends up beating every team in his path. Now, you could argue that he has a lot of help and you would be correct. Purdy is not slinging the ball all over the field, however he has done exactly what Shanahan and company needed him to do, and that is to win. Purdy faces his first true test this week, taking on the second best pass defense in the league, the Philadelphia Eagles.
There isn't much to say about the Eagles that you don't already know. They have a bright future star at QB and a star studded roster on both the offensive and defensive side of the ball. They have dominated all season, and it is hard to think that ANYONE can beat this team right now.
Defensively, these teams are almost the polar opposite. They defend well against totally different things. San Fran is one of the best rush defenses, allowing less than 3.5 yards per rush and 80 yards per game. Any team that plays the Eagles will have to be able to contain Hurts and keep him from using his feet, but the 49ers have only allowed 213 rush yard to quartebacks this year. This averages out to 12.5 QB rush yards per game, which is the second best in the league.
The Eagles on the other hand, have a poor rush defense. That is not a great weakness to have when you are looking at Mitchell and McCaffrey across the line of scrimmage. They are allowing 4.6 yards per rush attempts, and 121.6 rush yards per game. But what Philly lacks in rush defense, they make up for with their pass defense. They are in the top 5 in yards per game/catch/attempt and any other metric you can think of. If you didn't think Shanahan was going to draw up verts for Brock before, he definitely won't today.
Ultimately, I trust these defenses to keep each other from scoring. I will take the 49ers on the side, since their run game matches up better against Philly's run defense. Purdy has gone over 222.5 pass yards 3 times this season, these instances were against the Raiders, Seahawks, and Commanders. No way he passes it against the best pass defense in football.
Side: SF +2.5
Total: Under 46
Player Prop: Purdy Under 222.5 Passing Yards
This game is going to be the personification of fireworks. I am going to take a victory lap here, at about week 7 I bet on the Bengals to win the Super Bowl. They have been a very underrated team that is finally starting to get the respect that is due to them, and all it took was for them to make a trip to their Conference Championship...
Similar to the Eagles, I don't need to say a lot about the Chiefs. Mahomes is the best QB in football, and Kelce is a WR1 on nearly any other team in the league. Their defense leaves a lot to be desired, and that may be where the difference lies for the AFC Championship.
The Bengals offense was mainly focused on Burrow's arm, but this has shifted since the playoffs started. Perine and Nixon have seen an increase in touches since the postseason began, and this is something the Bengals have seen success with. Whether they get it done through the air or on the ground, the Bengals have been one of the most efficient offenses, converting on 3rd down nearly 50% of the time and the red zone 65% of the time. When you consider that they score an average of 2.4 points per drive, this all adds up to one prolific offense. It is worth noting that the Bengals committed nearly 200 less offensive penalty yards than the Chiefs during the regular season, a stat that I have found matters A LOT when handicapping games.
The Chiefs offense is more of the same from years past, even though they are without Tyreek Hill. They lead the league in points per drive and scoring %, so there is no question that they can find the end zone. I worry about Butker, who seems to be regressing from his first few seasons. McPherson has the edge over Butker who is only making 75% of his field goals this season. Over the course of the last 2 seasons, all of their matchups have finished within 3 points. In close games like those, missed FG's can make all of the difference.
The Bengals defense can withstand the onslaught of offense that Reid and his guys plan to bring. I expect this total to go over due to the efficiency of these offenses. DraftKings is offering McPherson made field goals +.5 to Harrison Butker, and I will be taking that as my player prop.
Side: Bengals +1.5
Total: Over 47.5
Player Prop: McPherson +.5 FG made vs. Butker
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