Matchups, predictions, and odds for Conference Finals…
In this week's Out of the Vault newsletter...
San Francisco 49ers @ Philadelphia Eagles 🦅
Cincinnati Bengals @ Kansas City Chiefs 🪓
Matchups and picks 🏈
This Sunday, NFL fans and sports bettors will get to see four teams that have been through a lot, fight it out for a spot in Super Bowl XLVII.
Headlining the Conference Finals are the Kansas City Chiefs and the Cincinnati Bengals, who will face off for the second straight year in the AFC Championship. The Chiefs have been a staple in the AFC pennant title game in the last five years, but they are coming into this game with a ton of emotional baggage as they aim to avenge the loss dealt to them by the Bengals a year ago.
As for the Philadelphia Eagles, the road towards their first Super Bowl appearance in six years will have to go through the sizzling hot San Francisco 49ers, a team that hasn’t tasted defeat since late October of last year.
The Eagles have been dominant for most of the season. The 49ers, though, are riding a 12-game winning streak, including two impressive playoff wins against the Seahawks and the Cowboys.
These two tantalizing matchups will determine the participants for this year’s NFL championship game at Super Bowl XLVII.
At this point of the season, the stakes couldn’t get much higher for the remaining teams, so expect the physicality, along with the suspense and drama, to go through the roof.
San Francisco 49ers @ Philadelphia Eagles on Sunday at 3:00 PM EST
Behind a stellar defensive performance and key plays from their offensive team led by quarterback Brock Purdy, the San Francisco 49ers pulled the rug out from under the Dallas Cowboys, 19-12. With the win in the divisional playoff round, San Francisco advanced to the NFC Championship game for the second straight year and the third time in four years.
The Eagles showed up in their own divisional playoff round game against the Giants, playing on the level of a team that dropped only three games in the regular season. Philadelphia dismantled the Giants from the get-go, with quarterback Jalen Hurts completing 16 of his 24 passes for 154 yards and two TDs en route to a 38-7 dominance.
Having a rookie quarterback lead his team to the promised land is a textbook Cinderella story that everyone loves to root for. Purdy has done exceptionally well in his first seven starts. Then again, reality will eventually sink in once he faces the top defensive team in the NFL.
It is because four of those six clubs he helped the 49ers defeat have defenses ranked in the bottom ten in the NFL, with only the Cowboys ranking in the top half. Purdy had only 214 yards passing and no touchdowns versus Dallas. He was also extraordinarily fortunate in that Dallas threw at least three interceptions.
Purdy must now defeat the NFL's No. 1 defensive squad in one of the sports' loudest arenas. He won't be able to get away with poor passes as he did against Dallas since the Eagles have the best pass defense in the league.
It's also worth noting that Jalen Hurts could still be out for this one. He played the entire game last time out but wasn't expected to do much because the Eagles' running backs carried most of the weight.
Add in the fact that the 49ers are still using Brock Purdy, a rookie who is likely to make a few blunders here and there, and there's every reason to expect that points will be difficult to come by.
Prediction: 49ers 12, Eagles 20
Spread: +2.5 (-105) / -2.5 (-115)
Total: o/u 46.5(-110)
Moneyline: +125 / -150
Cincinnati Bengals @ Kansas City Chiefs on Sunday at 6:30 PM EST
The Bengals and Chiefs square off once again in the AFC championship game. Cincinnati got the upper hand in this intense rivalry last year, edging Kansas City in a nail-biter, 27-24, before a rumbustious crowd at Arrowhead Stadium.
Speaking of Arrowhead, this is the fifth consecutive year the AFC championship game has been held in that stadium. So far, the Chiefs hold a 2-2 record in the previous four conference finals games played on their turf. They obviously want to end up with a winning record come Sunday.
The Bengals, on the other hand, seem unbothered by all the fanfare and colorful storylines attached to the upcoming conference title showdown. Zac Taylor’s squad knows very well what they are capable of. If there’s one NFL team that has thrived in a hostile environment and come through with a win, that would be the Bengals.
During Friday's press conference, Bengals wide receiver Tee Higgins said the best thing about the latest fight between the Bengals and the Chiefs.
"We’re building a rivalry. "It's great competition at the end of the day," Higgins said. "Playing there in the same type of game and environment as at Arrowhead, it doesn't get any better than that," Higgins emphasized.
The Bengals, who defeated the Baltimore Ravens and the Buffalo Bills to get here, opened as underdogs at +105 on the moneyline and +1 on the point spread in Vegas. Cincinnati, though, is the favorite to steal a win again at Arrowhead Stadium, with 69 percent of the public believing the Bengals will cover the 1-point spread and punch their Super Bowl ticket.
The Chiefs, meanwhile, barely overcame a spirited challenge by the Jacksonville Jaguars, 27-20, in their divisional playoff game last week. Worse, Patrick Mahomes, who is the most important part of their fast-paced offense, hurt his ankle in the tough win.
Although the Chiefs may apply more pressure on QB Joe Burrow than the Bills, another Bengals win feels inevitable. Last season, Cincinnati came into Arrowhead Stadium against a healthy Mahomes and won 27-24 on a second-half rally. However, with Mahomes nursing an injury, Cincinnati may be holding a bit of an edge over their rival.
Prediction: Cincinnati 25, Chiefs 20
Spread: +1 (-110) / -1 (-110)
Total: o/u 47.5(-110)
Moneyline: +105 / -115
The AFC and NFC championship games are here and there's no better time to bet on football!
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