NFL Championship Sunday game picks: Eagles, Bengals advance to face off in Super Bowl LVII
Gregg Rosenthal went 4-0 straight up on his Divisional Round picks, bringing his season total to 186-93-2. How will he fare on Championship Sunday? His picks are below.
The lines provided by Caesars Sportsbook are current as of 1:30 p.m. ET on Thursday, Jan. 26 unless otherwise noted below.
Sunday, Jan. 29
- WHERE: Lincoln Financial Field (Philadelphia)
- WHEN: 3 p.m. ET | FOX, FOX Sports, FOX Deportes
- MONEYLINE: Eagles: -145 | 49ers: +122
- SPREAD: Eagles -2.5 | O/U: 46
Rematches are fine, but there’s something special about the two best teams in the NFC facing off for the first time this season with a trip to the Super Bowl on the line. The first quarter could be decisive. Both teams excel with the lead, and the 49ers do not want to get into situations where they overly rely on their dropback passing game. The Eagles are built to rush the passer and prevent vertical throws, but their struggles against the run this season are well-documented. They improved late in the season, but not enough to slow down the 49ers’ ground game like Dallas did in the Divisional Round.
Kyle Shanahan knows his group up front is better at run-blocking, and that less is more with Brock Purdy. Will Eagles defensive coordinator Jonathan Gannon mix up his defense enough to force the 49ers into long-yardage situations, like Dan Quinn did last week? Christian McCaffrey‘s calf injury is something to watch, because there is a drop-off from McCaffrey to Elijah Mitchell, especially on passing downs.
While the 49ers may be the more balanced team, the Eagles are deeper up front on both sides of the ball and more talented at the most important positions: quarterback, edge rusher, cornerback and wide receiver. A.J. Brown and DeVonta Smith are bigger mismatches in coverage than even the YAC Bros. The Eagles run out of passing formations and pass out of running formations better than any team in football. Jalen Hurts‘ legs unlock it all, but it’s been his play inside the pocket that has improved the most this season. He and his wideouts can win downfield even when they aren’t schemed wide open. Hurts throws a beautiful deep ball.
The Eagles were my pick to win the Super Bowl before the season, and there’s no reason to quit them now. In a game with small margins, I trust second-year coach Nick Sirianni to make better game-management decisions when it comes to timeouts and crucial fourth downs. Expect an epic postgame celebration, even if Sirianni has to wait longer than the second quarter to start mean-mugging the camera.
- WHERE: GEHA Field at Arrowhead Stadium (Kansas City, Mo.)
- WHEN: 6:30 p.m. ET | CBS, Paramount+
- MONEYLINE: Bengals: +100 | Chiefs: -120
- SPREAD: Bengals +1.0 | O/U: 47
Sometimes an artist creates their best work when given a set of limitations. Having to work around Patrick Mahomes‘ high ankle sprain could narrow Andy Reid’s play-calling focus and quicken Mahomes’ decision-making, but that’s not all bad. Mahomes has thrown more touchdown passes from inside the pocket this season than any quarterback in football. The Chiefs’ running game is third in efficiency since these teams last faced each other in Week 13, per Football Outsiders, and the injury could force Reid to remain patient on the ground. The offensive line is built to run-block more than pass-protect, and Mahomes’ yards-per-attempt mark against the Jaguars in the Divisional Round last week went up after he was hurt. I’m not saying the injury is a good thing, just that it won’t necessarily decide this game.
The Chiefs can win even if Mahomes doesn’t have his mobility back. The Bengals can win this game even if Mahomes shows no signs of trouble. There’s just not much separating these two.
When these teams last met, both squads were terrific on the ground. Joe Burrow also ran more than usual and remained extremely patient hitting his receivers on shorter, in-breaking routes. The Chiefs’ defense was determined to take the big play away and still couldn’t get stops. It’s the size of the Bengals’ receivers and their superior defense overall that has me leaning Bengals. The biggest mismatch in the game is when Tee Higgins and Ja’Marr Chase work on the Chiefs’ undersized corners.
The Bengals’ defense can’t stop this Chiefs offense completely — no defense can — but coordinator Lou Anarumo has done a fantastic job changing what he does snap-to-snap, drive-to-drive and week-to-week. The Bengals’ combination of continuity, experience and youth is what every team strives to have. In a game that is dominated by offense, look for a defender like Mike Hilton or Logan Wilson to make the decisive play to send Cincinnati to a second straight Super Bowl.
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