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2023 NFL playoffs picks: Eagles prime 49ers in NFC title sport thriller, Bengals edge Chiefs in AFC Championship

2023 NFL playoffs picks: Eagles prime 49ers in NFC title sport thriller, Bengals edge Chiefs in AFC Championship

Possibly it was simply me, however did anybody else expertise deja vu over the weekend?

The 49ers, Chiefs and Bengals all gained throughout a divisional spherical that ended with the Cowboys operating the dumbest play doable. That is precisely what occurred final 12 months, too? Proper? OK. Simply wished to verify it wasn’t simply me. 

Final 12 months, we bought a QB draw from the Cowboys with 14 seconds left after they had no timeouts. This 12 months, they ran a play that was 700 occasions worse. 

Subsequent 12 months, I will not be stunned in the event that they let a cat line up quarterback for the ultimate play. 

I will cease speaking in regards to the Cowboys now although, as a result of I am doing picks for the convention title video games and so they’re not taking part in. 

For those who learn my picks repeatedly, then it’s possible you’ll know that my household consists of all Bengals followers. My dad (Jim Breech) is the all-time chief scorer for the Bengals, so when you ever discover any homerism on my half, it is his fault. 

The draw back of everybody in my household being a Bengals fan is that they textual content me each week telling me to choose the Bengals after which after I do not, they ship me poop emojis. I hate poop emojis.  

Since they clearly need me to choose the Bengals this week, I made a decision to do a little analysis to see if it is sensible to choose them on this spot, and I’ve to say, my household shouldn’t be going to love this analysis in any respect. 

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The Chiefs and Eagles each opened as favorites this week and one purpose to love them is as a result of they each performed on Saturday within the divisional spherical. Groups that play on Saturday — which suggests they get one further day of relaxation — have gone 17-9 within the convention title spherical over the previous 13 years. So as to add to that, not less than one workforce that performed on Saturday within the divisional spherical has gained not less than one of many convention title video games in 15 of the previous 17 years, which suggests it is extremely unlikely that the Bengals and 49ers each win. 

The someday benefit would not sound like a lot, however simply give it some thought like this: Whereas the 49ers had been busy preventing for his or her lives in a one-score win over the Cowboys on Sunday evening, the Eagles had been sitting round tweeting out lovable movies of Jason Kelce’s child, who’s clearly the most important Eagles fan alive.

Not solely are the Eagles and Chiefs extra rested, however they will each be taking part in at house this week, which is certainly an enormous benefit within the convention title spherical. 

In seven of the previous 9 years, the house workforce has gained the NFC Championship Sport, and in what can solely be described as an ideal coincidence, the house workforce has additionally gained seven of the previous 9 convention title video games within the AFC (Benefit: Eagles and Chiefs). That being mentioned, this may not truly be a bonus for the Chiefs although, since they had been on the shedding finish of each of these AFC losses with considered one of them coming final 12 months in opposition to this similar Bengals workforce. 

These had been enjoyable stats, however am I truly going to take them into consideration or am I going to go rogue?

Let’s get to the picks and discover out. 

Convention title sport picks

(2) San Francisco (15-4) at (1) Philadelphia (15-3)

3 p.m. ET (Fox)

Featured Sport | Philadelphia Eagles vs. San Francisco 49ers

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I do not know the way it occurred, however the 49ers have someway made it to the NFC title sport with a rookie quarterback. Attending to a convention title sport is difficult sufficient, however getting to at least one with a rookie quarterback is nearly unimaginable. It is like asking a 16-year-old to exit and win the Indy 500 three hours after they get their driver’s license. 

When Brock Purdy takes the sector on Sunday, he’ll turn into simply the fifth rookie QB in NFL historical past to begin in a convention title sport (Shaun King, Ben Roethlisberger, Joe Flacco and Mark Sanchez are the others). If historical past is any indication, issues might get ugly for Purdy in opposition to the Eagles. Not solely did these 4 different rookies go 0-4 of their begins, however additionally they mixed to throw 9 interceptions in comparison with simply 4 touchdowns. 

I picked in opposition to the 49ers final week as a result of I believed Purdy would battle, and he did. If Dak Prescott would not choke by throwing two interceptions and if George Kittle would not bail Purdy out with among the finest playoff catches of the 12 months, then the 49ers might need misplaced. 

Purdy struggled in opposition to an excellent Cowboys protection final week and this week, he’ll be dealing with an Eagles protection that is even higher. The Eagles have already racked up the THIRD-MOST sacks in NFL historical past for a single-season (75) and so they might go the 1985 Bears for the second-most in the event that they decide up six extra sacks on Sunday. In case your protection does something higher than the 1985 Bears, that routinely makes your protection superior. 

As for Purdy, there is a purpose that rookies are inclined to battle within the playoffs and that is as a result of A. the strain goes up each week and B. You are taking part in higher groups. This week, there’s going to be much more strain on Purdy and the 49ers can be taking part in the most effective workforce they’ve seen since he took over because the beginning QB. 

Now, primarily based on the 49ers’ game-plan within the divisional spherical, I am fairly positive that Kyle Shanahan could be very effectively conscious what sort of strain a rookie can face within the playoffs, which is why he did his finest to take that strain off of Purdy and why he’ll doubtless do one thing related this week. 

Though the Eagles have been among the finest defenses within the NFL this 12 months at stopping the go and sacking the quarterback, that may not assist them in opposition to the 49ers. The 49ers are a run-first workforce and so long as they’ll run the ball, they’ve an opportunity to win no matter how Purdy performs. If he performs effectively, that is positively a plus, however even when he struggles, they’ll nonetheless win. In opposition to the Cowboys, the 49ers gained although Purdy threw for lower than 215 yards whereas additionally throwing zero touchdowns. 

The Eagles protection surrendered 4.6 yards per carry in opposition to the run this 12 months, which was the ninth-worst quantity within the NFL. If the 49ers common 4.6 yards per carry in a sport, they virtually all the time beat you. They’ve gained six straight video games when hitting that quantity and so they’re 11-3 of their previous 14. 

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With the 49ers offense doubtless counting on the run in opposition to Philly, it is laborious to see San Francisco successful if this sport turns right into a shootout. The excellent news for the 49ers although is that their protection would not enable shootouts to occur. The 49ers surrendered the fewest factors within the NFL this 12 months and there have been solely 4 video games the place a workforce scored greater than 20 factors on them. 

The 49ers are 3-3 this season when surrendering 19 factors or extra, however after they give up lower than 19, they went 12-1. Mainly, if this turns right into a shootout, that might virtually definitely favor the Eagles. The matchup to observe on Sunday goes to be the immovable drive of the 49ers protection dealing with the unstoppable object that’s the Eagles offense. Through the common season, the Eagles scored the third-most factors within the NFL whereas additionally rating third in whole yards. On the flip facet, the 49ers can be going into the sport with a protection that surrendered the fewest factors within the NFL and the fewest whole yards.

I do not assume Jalen Hurts goes to have an enormous sport in opposition to the 49ers, however I like his possibilities in opposition to San Francisco’s protection greater than I like Purdy’s possibilities in opposition to Philadelphia’s protection. 

Hurts and Purdy have performed in opposition to one another one time earlier than this week and that got here in 2019 in a sport that bought type of loopy. 

That field rating is from a school sport the place Hurts’ Oklahoma workforce beat Purdy’s Iowa State workforce 42-41. I do not anticipate Purdy to whole six touchdowns on Sunday and I do not assume Hurts will lead the Eagles to 42 factors, however like their school battle, I do assume we’ll see a sport that goes right down to the wire that ends with Hurts popping out on prime. 

And since no Eagles decide is full with no video of the Philadelphia Symphony Orchestra performing “Fly, Eagles, Fly,” right here is the Philadelphia Symphony Orchestra performing “Fly, Eagles, Fly.”

The prediction right here is that the Eagles can be flying to their second Super Bowl in 5 years. 

THE PICK: Eagles 23-20 over 49ers
File selecting 49ers video games this season: 13-6 
File selecting Eagles video games this season: 11-7

(3) Cincinnati (14-4) at (1) Kansas Metropolis (15-3)

6:30 p.m. ET (CBS) 

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Featured Sport | Kansas Metropolis Chiefs vs. Cincinnati Bengals

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When this sport kicks off on Sunday, it should mark the fourth time in 393 days that these two groups have confronted one another. Their most up-to-date assembly got here on Dec. 2 in a 27-24 house win by the Bengals. 

Regardless of that win by Cincinnati, and regardless of the actual fact the Bengals have crushed the Chiefs three straight occasions, and although Patrick Mahomes is coping with an injured ankle, the Chiefs opened as the favourite on this sport (Though it took lower than 24 hours for bettors to make the Bengals the favourite). 

The largest issue on Sunday is certainly going to be Mahomes’ ankle. I am not a physician, however I would as effectively be after spending the previous two hours getting a medical diploma on-line. Positive, it solely price $12, and sure, it is most likely not legit, and no, I am nonetheless not certified to speak about Mahomes’ ankle, however I’ll say this: I do not assume he’ll be wherever close to 100% this week. 

The issue there for the Chiefs is that Mahomes does a few of his finest work exterior of the pocket, particularly within the postseason. Over the previous 5 years, NFL quarterbacks have mixed to throw 37 landing passes from exterior the pocket within the playoffs and Mahomes has FIFTEEN of these. To place that in perspective, no different quarterback even has 5.  

If Mahomes is not wholesome sufficient to maneuver round, that is going to create a variety of points for Chiefs. I imply, Mahomes has struggled in opposition to the Bengals when he is wholesome, so it is laborious to see him doing significantly better when he is not wholesome. The final time we noticed Mahomes attempt to play in an enormous sport with an damage got here in Tremendous Bowl LV and everyone knows how that turned out (For those who do not keep in mind how that turned out, that is the Tremendous Bowl the place the Chiefs misplaced to the Buccaneers 31-9 in a sport the place Mahomes threw two picks whereas additionally getting sacked thrice). 

After shutting down the Bills‘ offense, the Bengals protection goes to have a variety of confidence going into this sport and that confidence is barely going to shoot up in the event that they discover that Mahomes is gimpy. 

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If the Chiefs are going to win this sport, they’re doubtless going to want an enormous efficiency from their protection, which can be going up in opposition to Cincinnati’s patchwork offensive line. Though the road held up in opposition to the Payments, that was partly as a result of the Payments are dangerous at speeding the passer, however that will not be the case with Kansas Metropolis. This week, the Bengals revamped offensive line goes to must take care of Chris Jones and a Chief protection that ranked second within the NFL in sacks this 12 months. 

As I identified final week, the Bengals are 0-3 this 12 months when Burrow will get sacked 5 or extra occasions, however 14-1 when he is sacked fewer than 5 occasions, which suggests they simply must guarantee that the revamped offensive line is functioning effectively sufficient in order that Burrow would not spend your complete sport operating for his life. 

The one factor to bear in mind although is that the Bengals had a foul offensive line final 12 months and so they nonetheless beat the Chiefs within the AFC title sport. Regardless of who’s on the market on Sunday, the road will virtually definitely be higher than what the Bengals had final season. 

In a super world, I might get to personally consider Mahomes’ injured ankle earlier than I make a decide for this sport, however I am beginning to really feel like that is not going to occur, so I am simply going to must suck it up and make my decide.

Since 2014, there have been a complete of 13 AFC or NFC title video games which were rematches from the common season and in these 13 video games, the workforce that gained through the common season has gone 10-3 within the title sport rematch. 

Burrow is 3-0 in opposition to Mahomes with all three video games being determined by precisely three factors and the Bengals are going for his or her third straight playoff win. Additionally, Burrow has by no means misplaced in January (7-0), he is by no means misplaced a highway playoff sport (3-0) and I believe everyone knows the place I am going with this decide. 

The decide: Bengals 27-24 over Chiefs
File selecting CIN-KC video games over the previous 12 months:
File selecting Bengals video games this season: 14-4
File selecting Chiefs video games this season: 17-1

Final Week 

Finest decide: For those who’ve been betting on my AFC playoff picks this 12 months, you then is likely to be richer than Jeff Bezos proper now, as a result of I have been on a roll. Through the divisional spherical, I predicted that the Chiefs would beat the Jaguars by precisely seven factors and guess what happed? The Chiefs beat the Jaguars by precisely seven.  

I additionally predicted that the Bengals would rating precisely 27 factors and beat the Payments and guess what occurred? The Bengals scored precisely 27 factors and beat the Payments. After going 2-0 on the week, I am now 5-0 selecting AFC playoff video games this 12 months and I am beginning to assume that possibly I ought to solely decide AFC playoff video games subsequent season.  

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Worst decide: Over the previous 27 years, there is not any workforce that has choked within the playoffs extra usually than the Dallas Cowboys, and but, for some purpose, I nonetheless picked them to win final week. If there’s one factor the Cowboys cannot do, it is win large playoff video games, and if there’s one factor Mike McCarthy cannot do, it is win any playoff video games in opposition to the 49ers (He is 0-4 all-time in opposition to San Francisco, which is tied for probably the most losses in opposition to a single opponent in NFL playoff historical past). All of us knew the choke was coming, apart from me, as a result of I picked the Cowboys to win. 

After all, probably the most embarrassing half right here is that taking the Cowboys wasn’t even my worst decide of the week. That honor goes to Giants-Eagles. One way or the other, I talked myself into taking the Giants in what is going to simply go down because the worst NFL decide made by any sportswriter ever. Eagles followers had been flummoxed by my decide, and rightfully so. 

To reply Janet’s query, a chicken pooped on my automotive the day earlier than I made the decide and I clearly held it in opposition to the Eagles. That is the one affordable clarification I can give you. That being mentioned, I will not have to fret about my automotive getting pooped on by a chicken this week, as a result of apparently, my mode of transportation is a bus that is taking me to Loserville. 

The joke’s on you Eagles followers as a result of I am taking your workforce to win this week and if I will Loserville, they are going with me. 

In associated information, my NFC picks have been completely rubbish through the playoffs so 49ers followers would possibly need to go forward and begin on the lookout for lodges in Arizona. 

Alright guys, until I determine to do a Professional Bowl decide — and I most likely will not — I will be on a one-week hiatus, which suggests it’s best to circle Feb. 7 in your calendar (or tattoo it in your decrease again), as a result of that is when my Tremendous Bowl LVII decide can be rolling out. If you cannot wait that lengthy, then I counsel following me on FacebookTwitter or even Instagram

If you need do not need to wait till Feb. 7 to listen to from me, you possibly can signal for the each day NFL e-newsletter that I write for Simply click this link and enter your email after which BAM, I will be in your inbox 5 days per week. 

Picks report

Straight up in divisional spherical: 2-2
SU general in playoffs: 7-3 (5-0 selecting AFC video games, 2-3 selecting NFC)
In opposition to the unfold in divisional spherical: 2-2
ATS general in playoffs: 5-5 (4-1 selecting AFC video games, 1-4 selecting NFC)

Closing 2022 common season report
In opposition to the unfold: 129-133-9

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You’ll find John Breech on Facebook or Twitter and if he is not doing a type of issues, he is both cleansing chicken poop off the windshield of his automotive or deleting poop emojis from his cellphone that his household despatched him as a result of they assume it is humorous. 

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