And then there were four.
The Kansas City Chiefs will host the Cincinnati Bengals in an AFC title game rematch on Sunday evening, but before that, the San Francisco 49ers will make their third NFC Championship Game appearance in four years when they visit your Philadelphia Eagles, returning to the doorstep of the Super Bowl for the first time since they shellacked Minnesota in 2018.
John needs a win or a draw to claim the Quick Picks title. Can he get it? Or will Joe have a shot at a miracle draw in two weeks?
Joe was the runaway winner last week, so he goes first.
Joe (6-8-5): All season long, as the Birds racked up win after win, this was what it was all about: being able to play for the right to go to the Super Bowl on your home turf, in front of your home crowd. And in this instance, it means having a team that has won something like 139 games in a row (Editor’s note: 12) have to bring its rookie Cinderella story quarterback into your frothing cauldron.
Make no mistake about it: the 49ers are the best team the Eagles have played this season, and that could remain true even if the Eagles meet the Chiefs or Bengals in the Super Bowl.
(Side note: seeing the words “Bengals in the Super Bowl” a year after the Bengals were in the Super Bowl is just mind-blowing to folks of a certain age.)
Before the playoffs started, I picked San Francisco to beat the Eagles in the NFC title game. I’ve been on a bit of a heater with my picks, winning nine out of 10 of them so far. It should follow that I would stick to my guns and pick the 49ers.
Unfortunately, I’m in a pickle here. If I pick the 49ers, and they win, that means the Eagles’ run is over, and so is Quick Picks, and I lose the opportunity to go for the draw in the Super Bowl. So I have no choice but to pick some sort of Eagles victory.
But this isn’t going to be a “because I have to” pick; I do think they can win. I have an optimism about the game that I wouldn’t call “confidence,” per se, but there’s certainly a lack of worry about it. I guess it comes with having seen them finally win the Super Bowl; missing a shot to go back in theory shouldn’t hurt as much. In theory.
Like I said, the Eagles haven’t faced a team this season that’s anywhere near as good as the one they’ll face on Sunday. But neither have the 49ers. Eagles 23, 49ers 17.
Offensive Standout: Miles Sanders
Defensive Standout: Javon Hargrave
John (8-6-5): Even if it wasn’t the NFC title game, this would be the toughest game the Eagles play all year. Their opponent boasts two of the most lethal weapons in the NFL with Deebo Samuel and Christian McCaffrey. While I have all the respect in the world for the San Francisco 49ers, I don’t see a scenario where Brock Purdy:
• travels across the country
• doesn’t get sacked at least three times
• doesn’t throw two or more picks
• wins the in the Linc
If Purdy does win, start writing Mr. Irrelevant, the next-Disney sports movie about an overachiever, now. He didn’t beat the Dallas Cowboys last week; he escaped with the win. The Eagles coaching staff has familiarity with Brock Purdy going back to college; look for both them and the Eagles defense to turn Cinderella into a pumpkin.
A sentence I can’t believe I’m writing, so something must be wrong with me: the Eagles are going to their third Super Bowl in my lifetime. Will they win? Tune in in two weeks to find out. Eagles 28, 49ers 20.
Offensive Standout: A.J. Brown
Defensive Standout: C.J. Gardner-Johnson