The championship weekend is here! A year ago, who would have thought that Jalen Hurts and Brock Purdy would face off with the winner moving on to the Super Bowl? It has become increasingly clear over the past couple of months; these are the two best squads in the NFC.
Photo Cred: Line Ups
Brock Purdy is dominating the 49ers storylines; he enters this matchup at 8-0 as a starter. Purdy has done what is being asked. But in that offense, numerous quarterbacks in the league could replicate this success. The 49er’s offense is built around getting their playmakers the ball in space and letting them carry the offense. Kyle Shanahan is one of the best offensive minds of this generation, and with the likes of Deebo Samuel, Christian McCaffery, George Kittle, and Brandon Ayiuk at his disposal Shanahan has formed an offense that is averaging 32.6 points over the last eight contests.
Photo Cred: SFGate
As good as their offense is, the 49er’s defense might be the stronger of the two units. With coordinator DeMeco Ryans at the helm, San Francisco only allowed 16.2 points per game, the best in the league. The one hole in the 49er’s defense is their pass defense which has allowed 100-yard games to D.K. Metcalf and CeeDee Lamb so far these playoffs. The 49ers struggled against the Cowboys and will have to clean some stuff up if they hope to knock off the Eagles in Philadelphia.
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Late-season injuries to Lane Johnson, CJ Gardner-Johnson, and Jalen Hurts saw the Eagles limp into the playoffs losing two of their last three regular season games. Hurts and the Eagles answered all the concerns last week. They routed the Giants 38-7. Philadelphia is 15-1 in games Jalen Hurts starts and averages just under 30 points a game. The staple of the Eagle’s offense is a dynamic running game spearheaded by Hurts, despite missing two games, finished 2nd in the league in rushing touchdowns. Philly’s passing game cannot be overlooked, as the offseason acquisition of star wideout A.J. Brown has helped turn the Eagles into a top-10 passing offense by almost every metric.
Photo Cred: USA Today
Defensively, the Eagles are middle of the pack defending the run but make up for that with the best-passing defense. Much of Philly’s defensive success stems from their ability to pressure the quarterback. The Eagles recorded a league-best 70 team sacks this season, 15 more than any other team. If Philly hopes to return to the Super Bowl, they will need their pass rush to make Purdy uncomfortable and force the newcomer to make plays.
Photo Cred: The Liberty Line
The Eagles and 49ers are similar squads. Both teams have explosive playmakers, elite defenses, and exceptional coaching staff. The Eagles will look to take advantage of San Francisco’s suspect pass defense, whereas the 49ers will attempt to expose the Eagles on the ground. The difference between these teams is the quarterbacks. Jalen Hurts is an elite quarterback who can win in so many ways. Brock Purdy, although he is undefeated, has not been particularly impressive. The Eagle’s front seven should be able to cause havoc and force Purdy into mistakes, which could be the difference in the game. I am going to take the more experienced quarterback. The eagles win 27-20.