NFC Championship prediction: Favored Eagles the pick

The two top teams in the NFC this season will battle it out on Sunday for a trip to the Super Bowl when the 49ers meet the Eagles.

Oddsmakers have made the Eagles a slight favorite at home after Philadelphia dismantled the Giants in the divisional round and the 49ers disposed of the Cowboys behind the league’s No. 1 defense. Though this is a pretty even matchup on paper, there are a couple of factors that give the Eagles a slight edge.

The most obvious one is San Francisco rookie Brock Purdy making just his third career start on the road. Purdy’s two road starts this season came in Seattle and Las Vegas. The Seahawks ranked 26th in total defense and the Raiders ranked 28th. Purdy will be stepping up in class on Sunday against the Eagles’ top-ranked pass defense with an NFL-leading 70 sacks in the regular season, plus five more against the Giants.

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Though this is a matchup of the NFL’s two top defenses, there is one area in which the 49ers can be attacked and that’s down the field. San Francisco’s defense ranks eighth-worst in the NFL in total air yards allowed and fourth-worst in completions over 15 yards.
The Eagles should be able to exploit that weakness with receivers A.J. Brown and DeVonta Smith. I see Brown being a difference-maker in this game. I like the Over on his receiving yards and longest reception in this game.

The 49ers have the top run defense in the NFL, while the Eagles rush for 147 yards per game (fifth best). I expect Philadelphia to come out aggressively, however, and attack the suspect 49ers secondary to get an early lead. That will force Purdy to play uphill and allow the Eagles’ elite pass rush to dictate the game.

Betting on the NFL?

Look for Jalen Hurts’ arm to be the difference in leading the Eagles to a Super Bowl berth.

The play: Eagles -3.

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