NFL's Championship Round
MatchQuarters breaks down the final four teams & predicts who will be in the Super Bowl.
We are down to four! Let’s take a look at the key match-ups in both conferences & predict who will be in the Super Bowl.
»» How’d I do last week? 4-0 & 9-1 in the playoffs.
When: 2 pm CST/FOX
Where: Lincoln Financial Field, Philadelphia | 37 & Cloudy
When the Eagles pass: The Eagles are dominant on the ground, which keeps them from having to play a “drop-back game.” RPOs and play-action thrive because of the run game. Plus, the throws are usually in-breaking and in front of the QB. The combination of DeVonta Smith at Slot and AJ Brown out wide can be deadly. Both have game-breaking potential. The Eagles’ passing game works so well because of the run game. As defenses attempt to load the box, significant gaps in the field open up, and their two main WRs, Brown and Smith, get one-on-one opportunities downfield. San Fransisco entered the playoffs as the #5 defense in pass DVOA. Two games into the playoffs, the secondary has given up some outside plays. Brown is a definite issue outside. As I mentioned in a tweet from earlier this week, the perceived success passing for the Seahawks was because they utilized Metcalf down the field. The Eagles have two bonified deep threats and can attack the 49ers in a way that Dallas and Seattle could not.
When the Eagles run: No one has been able to stop the run all year. RB Miles Sanders has over 1,200 yards and 11 TDs on the round, along with QB Jalen Hurts, rushing for over 700 yards and 13 TDs. Against the Giants, Sanders and Kenneth Gainwell both went over the 90+ mark, with Gainwell at 112 yards in only 12 carries. Football Outsiders has the unit as the #1 overall rush DVOA at 17.3%. The next closest is the Ravens at 11.3%. Then the numbers drop off a cliff. Third place, Atlanta sits at a DVOA of 6.8%. That’s over 10 percentage points! Philly is going up against the #2 rush DVOA defense in the 49ers. Neither Dallas nor Seattle had quite the rushing attack the Eagles have. Regardless, they dominated. For the Eagles to be successful on the ground, they will have to lean into the fact that Hurts will need to tote the rock at least more than he has while the staff has been trying to keep him healthy. The 49ers play a single-high-based defense, and one way to take advantage is to play 11-on-11 football.
When the 49ers pass: The Eagles have by far the best secondary unit regarding DVOA in the NFL, one of the most significant factors in this game is the performance of QB Brock Purdy. The 49ers’ offense is loaded with talent at every position. For a rookie QB, Purdy has been stellar. Though he did not have a great game against the Cowboys (who has the #3 best pass DVOA), he did enough to move the chains. Philly will be a monster test for the young QB and will likely decide the game because Head Coach Kyle Shanahan will not run the ball every down.
When the 49ers run: If the 49ers are going to win the game, it will be on the ground. Ironically, we live in a pass-first world, yet the two teams in the NFL Championship lean into defense and are known for their ground attacks. When factoring in their two playoff games, San Fransisco comes in at 13th in rush DVOA. The 49ers are pass-first and have the #2 passing DVOA behind the Chiefs. The Eagles come into the game with the 21st-ranked defense in rush DVOA. The match-up is there for the ‘9ers to exploit. Shanahan will need to lean on the run game and play-action passing to limit the chance of disaster with Purdy throwing the ball. Though the young QB has been stellar so far, McCaffery and the O-line will need to carry the load if they head to the Super Bowl.
ESPN’s Match-up Predictor: The Eagles have a 64.8% win probability.
Final Prediction: Hurts didn’t have to perform at an elite level to beat the Giants last week. With San Fransisco heading to town, the scenarios are a bit different. Hurst must use his legs and arm to counter the 49ers’ defense. Defensively the Eagles’ D-line will need to step up and consistently stop the run, forcing the rookie QB to make plays down the field. Shanahan has shown he trusts Purdy to throw the ball past the sticks, but he has yet to be in a “dropback” game. Look for the 49ers to try and ugly up the game and keep the ball away from the Eagles’ offense, who can do the same to them. The game looks like an old-school slug-fest, and I am all for it! The line has the Eagles at -2.5, and I tend to agree. The game will be close. Eagles win 24-20.
»» Here’s my breakdown of the 49ers’ gameplan against the Cowboys:
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