49ers vs. Eagles: Experts predict the winner of NFC Championship game
By Peter Panacy
The 49ers are underdogs for the NFC Championship game, but what are the experts saying about the outcome of this penultimate game on Sunday?
The San Francisco 49ers are underdogs for the first time in a long time.
October, if we’re being precise.
Head coach Kyle Shanahan’s squad enters the 2023 NFC Championship game as 2.5-point underdogs against the Philadelphia Eagles, which makes sense since home teams are usually granted three points in betting odds anyway.
With Philly having one more win during the regular season and finishing as the conference’s No. 1 seed, the line makes sense even if both Philadelphia and San Francisco are fairly evenly matched in other areas across the board.
However, the Eagles have an edge over the 49ers in the quarterbacking department, as Jalen Hurts is in the mix for the NFL MVP award this season. On the opposite front, rookie quarterback Brock Purdy might be a candidate for the Offensive Rookie of the Year award, but he still has a long way to go to match what Hurts has done.
Read More: NFC Championship game: Brock Purdy, Jalen Hurts already made NFL history
Not surprisingly, the matchup between Purdy and Hurts is one that is influencing NFL experts’ predictions for which team winds up winning this Sunday and advancing to Super Bowl LVII.
NFC Championship game: Experts predict winner of 49ers vs. Eagles
Let’s take a look around the league to see whether or not the experts are predicting the Niners to lose or pull off the upset.
Gregg Rosenthal, NFL.com: Eagles 24, 49ers 20
"While the 49ers may be the more balanced team, the Eagles are deeper up front on both sides of the ball and more talented at the most important positions: quarterback, edge rusher, cornerback and wide receiver. A.J. Brown and DeVonta Smith are bigger mismatches in coverage than even the YAC Bros. The Eagles run out of passing formations and pass out of running formations better than any team in football. Jalen Hurts’ legs unlock it all, but it’s been his play inside the pocket that has improved the most this season."
Eric Moody, ESPN: Eagles 27, 49ers 24
"There are very few holes on either roster. “That’s what the NFC Championship Game should be,” Philadelphia coach Nick Sirianni said. “It’s going to be good on good, and it’s going to be tight.” — Tim McManus"
Pete Prisco, CBS Sports: Eagles 30, 49ers 21
"This is a game between two physical teams that have good run games and good defensive fronts. That means it’s going to be decided up front, no matter how many offensive playmakers are on the field. …But I look for Hurts to outplay Purdy and lead the Eagles to the Super Bowl. That Eagles offensive line and pass rush will decide this game."
Mike Florio, Pro Football Talk: Eagles 24, 49ers 23
"It’s still a quarterback-driven league. And Jalen Hurts is a far more accomplished quarterback than Brock Purdy. Yes, Purdy hasn’t lost a game yet. He also has yet to face a team like the Eagles, in a place like Philadelphia. Maybe he’ll make a clutch play that delivers a win. Maybe the 49ers are otherwise good enough that he won’t have to. Regardless, Hurts is the more proven quarterback, and I’ve got more faith in him to make a big play in a big spot, and/or to inspire his teammates at the right moment to do something that will make a difference."
Matt Verderame, FanSided: Eagles 24, 49ers 20
"The big question for San Francisco is whether rookie quarterback Brock Purdy can hang in a very tough environment. Philadelphia’s defense led the league in sacks with 68 during the regular season, including four players in double digits.If the Eagles get home, they’ll win. Purdy hasn’t been good under pressure, and Philadelphia is excellent at forcing turnovers. Additionally, the Eagles have been great in the red zone and on third own this year, bettering San Francisco in each category."
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It appears as if there are some clean sweeps going on in the prediction department, and they are all favoring Philly to win a close one.
Again, that makes sense given the matchups and home-field advantage for Philadelphia. But, all one might need to recall is how the Niners were notable underdogs on the road during the divisional round of the playoffs last year versus the Green Bay Packers, and Shanahan’s squad pulled off that upset.
Perhaps something similar winds up developing this Sunday when both teams kick off at 3 p.m. ET from Lincoln Financial Field.