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San Francisco 49ers vs Philadelphia Eagles preview: NFC Championship Game prediction, 3 matchups to watch, game info


The NFC Championship Game is set with a fantastic matchup between the San Francisco 49ers vs Philadelphia Eagles on Sunday. With a trip to Super Bowl LVII at stake and plenty on the line for two of the best teams in the NFL, this could be a game for the ages.

No one expected a quarterback battle between Brock Purdy and Jalen Hurts for the George Halas Trophy when the season began. However, the two youngest quarterbacks in the NFL playoffs now stand on the doorstep of taking their team to State Farm Stadium for Super Bowl LVII.

A lot of the credit belongs to general managers John Lynch and Howie Roseman, who built two of the best rosters in the NFL. Not only do the 49ers and Eagles each have multiple first-team All-Pro selections, but they each also have one of the best NFL defenses and offenses.

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Before we dive into our 49ers vs Eagles preview, here’s everything to know about the NFC Championship Game on Sunday.

49ers vs Eagles game info

Here is all the 49ers vs Eagles game info you need to know before kickoff.

  • Date: Sunday, Jan. 29
  • Time: 3 PM ET
  • TV: FOX
  • Broadcasters: Greg Olsen, Kevin Burkhardt
  • Last Meeting: San Francisco 49ers 17, Philadelphia Eagles 11 (Sep. 19, 2021)

49ers vs Eagles odds

Here are the latest odds for the 49ers and Eagles matchup. With neither team dealing with any significant injuries, we likely won’t see the money line or point spread change significantly.

  • Spread: (-3) Philadelphia Eagles
  • Point Total: 45.5
  • Moneyline: (+125) San Francisco 49ers, (-150) Philadelphia Eagles

Let’s dive into our NFC Championship Game preview.

NFC Championship Game matchups to watch

San Francisco 49ers defensive line vs Philadelphia Eagles offensive line

NFL: San Francisco 49ers at Philadelphia Eagles
Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

There isn’t a single positional matchup better in the entire playoffs than San Francisco’s defensive line against Philadelphia’s offensive line. The Eagles have first-team All-Pros (center Jason Kelce and right tackle Lane Johnson), while the 49ers boast perennial Defensive Player of the Year candidate Nick Bosa, 6-foot-7 defensive tackle Arik Armstead, and edge rusher Charles Omenihu.

  • San Francisco 49ers pass rush: 46% pass rush win rate (5th), 77.9 PFF pass-rush grade (5th), 11.6% QB knockdown rate (6th)
  • Philadelphia Eagles offensive line: 89.9 Pass Blocking Efficiency (2nd), 11 sacks (1st), nine QB hits (T-1st), 120 pressures allowed (4th)

This is strength vs strength, with the battles in the trenches having a significant impact on who wins the NFC Championship Game. Both the 49ers’ defense and Eagles’ offense could struggle depending on which side wins at the line of scrimmage.

Consider that Hurts ranked 20th in passer rating (65.2) and 28th in completion rate (43.9%) when pressured this season. Compare that to his success with a clean pocket, posting the fourth-highest QB rating (113.4) with the fifth-best completion rate (73.5%).

Philadelphia might use the same approach it deployed against the Philadelphia Eagles, with Hurts posting his fastest time-to-throw rate (2.41) in his career. However, getting him on the move and moving the pocket could prove especially effective. As noted on “The Mina Kimes Show featuring Lenny“, San Francisco ranked 30th in QBR allowed when opposing quarterbacks had 4-plus seconds to throw.

Brock Purdy vs Eagles’ defense

NFL: NFC Divisional Round-Dallas Cowboys at San Francisco 49ers
Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Since Purdy took over as the 49ers’ quarterback in Week 13, filling in for Jimmy Garoppolo, he has wildly exceeded expectations. Not only is he making the accurate throws in the quick game that allows Kyle Shanahan’s offense to maintain its rhythm, but his athleticism also opens up playmaking opportunities when the scripted play breaks down or the pocket collapses.

The rookie handled pressuring surprisingly well during the regular season. However, the 49ers’ schedule meant he rarely faced a quality defense. It helps explains the stat discrepancies from the regular season to the playoffs.

Brock Purdy vs PressureQB RatingCompletion RateYPA
Weeks 13-1885.8 (8th)53.5%6.1
Divisional Round49.033.3%4.6
Statistics via Pro Football Focus

Dan Quinn did an excellent job pressuring Purdy, with Micah Parsons and DeMarcus Lawrence creating penetration in the 49ers’ backfield. Keep in mind, Dallas boasted a league-high 50% pass rush win rate with a 25.6% pressure rate (1st in NFL) and 54 sacks (3rd). In comparison, the Eagles had 70 sacks with a 25.5% pressure rate and a 50% pass-rush win rate.

There’s one key difference between the Cowboys’ and Eagles’ defenses. While Dallas boasts Pro Bowl cornerback Trevon Diggs, injuries forced the Cowboys to start two backups alongside him at cornerback. Meanwhile, Philadelphia boasts Darius Slay, James Bradberry and Chauncey Gardner-Johnson to form arguably the best secondary in the NFL.

If this is a low-scoring game, the 49ers don’t have to put everything on Purdy’s shoulders and the rushing attack should perform. If the script flips and this becomes a potential shootout, Purdy will need to deliver the game of his life against the best defense he ever faced.

Philadelphia Eagles’ receivers vs San Francisco 49ers secondary

NFL: NFC Divisional Round-New York Giants at Philadelphia Eagles
Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

Running the football with Miles Sanders and Kenneth Gainwell isn’t a recipe for success for Philadelphia. While the Eagles can’t abandon the ground game entirely, it’s ill-advised to rely on it too heavily against the best run defense in the NFL.

San Francisco allowed just 3.4 yards per carry during the regular season with its opponents averaging 77.7 rushing yards per game. The 49ers also finished sixth in ESPN’s run-stop win rate (32%) and second in Football Outsiders’ Rush DVOA.

There might be an opportunity to attack the 49ers’ secondary, especially if A.J. Brown and DeVonta Smith come through on the big stage. 49ers’ cornerback Deommodore Lenoir (5-foot-10) allowed a 96.8 QB rating when targeted this season with an alarming 71.6% reception rate and 761 yards allowed on 88 targets.

Philadelphia might first try lining Brown up against him, but matchups between Smith vs Lenoir and Brown vs Charvarius Ward could prove more favorable. Ward (6-foot-1) is San Francisco’s No. 1 cornerback and he allowed just an 88.2 QB rating on throws in his direction with 531 yards surrendered on 77 targets. However, we saw D.K. Metcalf torch Ward for 98 yards and a touchdown in the Wild Card Game.

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While Brown (6-foot-1) is shorter than Metcalf, he is still an elite athlete with a 91st percentile speed score and he finished with the second-most yards after catch (543) in the regular season. If the Eagles’ offensive line gives Hurts time to throw, Brown and Smith will get open for a few big-play opportunities on Sunday.

49ers vs Eagles prediction: Who will win the NFC Championship Game?

NFL: NFC Divisional Round-New York Giants at Philadelphia Eagles
Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

It’s fitting that the two best teams in the NFC are meeting head-to-head for an opportunity to represent the conference in the Super Bowl. This is a matchup that could go in either direction, but it will be a close game no matter the result.

Ultimately, the Eagles’ ability to both protect Hurts and pressure Purdy, while taking away some of his throwing lanes, could decide this matchup. We believe it will come down to the final minutes, with Philadelphia’s defense providing one final stop in the closing minutes to become NFC champions.

  • Prediction: Philadelphia Eagles 27, San Francisco 49ers 24
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