NFC Championship Game: San Francisco at Philadelphia

NFC Championship Game: San Francisco at Philadelphia

Philadelphia Eagles vs. San Francisco 49ers

Line: Philadelphia -2.5

Total: 46.5

Where: Lincoln Financial Field, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

When: Sunday, 1/29 at 3:00 p.m. ET

TV: FOX

The 49ers will play in the NFC Championship for the third time in four years when they face the Eagles on the road on Sunday afternoon.

San Francisco finished the regular season as the No. 2 seed in the NFC after putting together a 13-4 record, and it has since added postseason wins over Seattle and Dallas. Philadelphia lost consecutive games down the stretch of the regular season before finally clinching the top seed in the conference with a win over the Giants, and the Eagles advanced through the divisional round with a 38-7 blowout over New York last Saturday.

Oddsmakers opened Philadelphia as a 1.5-point favorite in this matchup, but the early betting action has driven the line up to -2.5. Sunday afternoon’s total opened at 45.5 and has been bet up to 46.5. The 49ers have gone ‘over’ the total in four of their last five games, while Philadelphia has gone ‘under’ in four of its last five games.

This is expected to be a defensive battle, as it features the top two defenses in the league from the regular season. San Francisco allowed an NFL-low 300.6 yards per game, and Philadelphia was right behind them at 301.5.

The Eagles showcased that defense in their divisional round meeting with New York, holding the Giants to a season-low seven points in a 31-point blowout. Philadelphia quarterback Jalen Hurts, who dealt with a shoulder injury at the end of the regular season, was not asked to do too much, completing 16 of 24 passes for 154 yards and two touchdowns.

“To have him (Hurts) out there, I know this is high praise, it’s like having Michael Jordan out there,” Philadelphia coach Nick Sirianni said. “He’s your leader. He’s your guy. That’s the biggest respect I can pay to him.”

Running back Kenneth Gainwell racked up 112 rushing yards and a touchdown on 12 carries, and Philadelphia (26) doubled up New York (13) in first downs. The Eagles finished with 268 rushing yards, as Miles Sanders had a big day as well. Their defense has allowed 22 or fewer points in six of their last seven games, with the lone exception coming in a loss to Dallas on Christmas Eve.

This will be a tough test for Philadelphia’s rushing attack, as San Francisco’s defense allowed the fewest rushing yards per game this season. The 49ers are coming off another impressive showing of their own, holding Dallas to just 12 points last Sunday.

Rookie quarterback Brock Purdy engineered a pair of long scoring drives in the second half against Dallas, improving to 7-0 since taking over for an injured Jimmy Garoppolo in Week 13. He went 18 of 28 for 215 yards with no interceptions against the Cowboys, joining Joe Flacco (2008) and Mark Sanchez (2009) as the only rookie quarterbacks to win two playoff starts.

“Man, we’re just excited that we won,” Purdy said. “Everyone did their part. It’s playoff football, it’s never easy, but we’re moving on.”

Purdy has plenty of help behind him in the backfield, as running backs Christian McCaffrey and Elijah Mitchell are among the league’s best. Dynamic playmaker Deebo Samuel is a threat through the air and on the ground, while tight end George Kittle had 95 receiving yards against Dallas.

The respective defenses get most of the credit, but Philadelphia (3) and San Francisco (5) are both top-five offenses in the league as well. Philadelphia had gone ‘over’ in 11 of 12 games at Lincoln Financial Field before going ‘under’ in each of its last three at home.

San Francisco is 9-1 against the spread in its last 10 games, covering the spread in nine straight games against NFC opponents. Philadelphia was overvalued down the stretch of the regular season, so it has gone 1-4 ATS in its last five games.  

The pick: Philadelphia -2.5

San Francisco appears to be infallible even with a seventh-round rookie at quarterback, but the 49ers are going to have to prove that to me again on Sunday. Purdy will be making the first road playoff start of his career on the road in the cold weather against a Philadelphia team that has a huge rest advantage. Not only were the Eagles off during the first week of the playoffs, but they got an extra day to recover from their game last Saturday. Their defense has not shown many cracks this season, and I think the home-field advantage combined with Hurts’ mobility will be a little too much for the 49ers to overcome.

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