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NFL Conference Championships Finals Preview, Stats & Tips 28/01/2023

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Kansas City Chiefs v Cincinnati Bengals

Patrick Mahomes and the Kansas City Chiefs go into an NFL-record fifth consecutive home
AFC Championship Game knowing they need to overcome a Cincinnati Bengals side they have
failed to beat in their last three attempts.

Sunday’s match-up (start time 11.30pm UK time) is a replay of last year’s title game, which the
Joe Burrow-led Bengals took 27-24 in an overtime thriller.
Having also beaten them in each of the past two regular seasons, the Bengals are 3-0 against
the Chiefs since drafting quarterback Burrow in 2020.
MVP-bound Patrick Mahomes is expected to start after suffering a high ankle sprain in the
Chiefs’ 27-20 Divisional Round victory over the Jacksonville Jaguars.
Mahomes left last week’s game to receive x-rays but was able to return after one drive, albeit
with reduced mobility.
Despite clear discomfort and a lack of ability to manoeuvre around the pocket, Mahomes was
able to find tight-end Travis Kelce consistently en route to a second-half statline of 22-of-30 for
195 yards and two touchdowns.
The Bengals were able to escape their Divisional Round match-up relatively unscathed, cruising
to a 27-10 victory over the Buffalo Bills in the snow at Orchard Park.
Last year’s Super Bowl runners-up have now lost just one of their previous 13 games.
Zak Taylor’s men played a complete game on their way to felling pre-season Super Bowl
favourites Buffalo, restricting the Bills offense to its lowest points tally of the season while
combining for over 100 ground yards and two passing touchdowns on offense.
Despite running back Joe Mixon’s success in the Divisional Round, the Bengals may look to
lean on their trio of superstar wide receivers against a Kansas City defense that has given up
more passing touchdowns than any other this season.
A large factor in Kansas’ ability to counteract Cincinnati’s potent air attack will be the play of
Chris Jones, who finished the regular season with 26 more pass rush wins than any other
defensive tackle.
Along with Frank Clark and the rest of the Chiefs’ defensive line, Jones will look to take
advantage of a banged-up Bengals o-line that ranked 31st in pass block win rate going into last
week’s games.

With each of the last few match-ups between these powerhouses settled by three points, expect
the AFC’s Super Bowl representative to be decided late in this one.
All eyes will be on whether Mahomes can rise above his high ankle sprain to exact revenge on
the only team to have beaten him three times.

Key stats

  • The last five Chiefs vs Bengals games have all seen at least 50 points scored.
  • In three games against the Chiefs over the past two seasons, Ja’Marr Chase has 29 targets, 24 receptions, 417 yards and four touchdowns.
  • Mahomes has completed just 50% of his throws of 10+ air yards in his last three games against the Bengals.
  • Kansas City is 7-11 against the spread this season, while Joe Burrow is 18-1 ATS in his last 19 games as favourite by less than seven points.
  • Kansas City is 13-1 this season when rushing for 70+ yards, their only loss coming against Cincinnati.

Philadelphia Eagles v San Francisco 49ers

The San Francisco 49ers travel to Philadelphia on Sunday (start time 8pm UK time) as the
NFC’s top two seeds clash for a place in Super Bowl LVII.

Led by rookie seventh-rounder Brock Purdy at quarterback, the 49ers are riding a 12-match
unbeaten streak as they prepare for their third Championship appearance in four years.
The Eagles followed up their first-round bye with a 38-7 dismantling of NFC East rivals the New
York Giants.
Quarterback Jalen Hurts amassed just 154 passing yards as Kenneth Gainwell, Miles Sanders,
Boston Scott and Hurts himself combined for a monster 268 yards on the ground.
More will likely be needed from Hurts’ arm if the Eagles are to advance to a second Super Bowl
in five years, with the 49ers defense boasting the lowest yards per carry allowed in the NFL this
season.
Despite Nick Sirianni’s offense becoming synonymous with the run over the last year and a half,
the key to the Eagles’ offensive success this year has been their explosiveness through the air.

This season, Eagles quarterback Hurts has the most touchdowns and highest passer rating in
the NFL when attempting passes over 25 yards.
Meanwhile on passes of over 25 yards, the 49ers defense has given up a 41% completion rate,
allowing 687 yards, five touchdowns, two interceptions and a passer rating of 106.6, the fifth-
worst figure in the NFL.
Despite being led by Purdy, the third quarterback on their depth chart going into the season, the
49ers offense has only risen in confidence since acquiring running back Christian McCaffrey
earlier in the year.
The elite receiving corps of Deebo Samuel, George Kittle and Brandon Aiyuk has helped Purdy
lead his offense to number one ranks in points per game, yards per play, EPA per play, yards
per pass and yards per rush since taking over from Jimmy Garoppolo in week 13.
With so much talent on the field and so little to separate the two teams, the difference may
come from the trenches.
Both teams possess strong offensive and defensive lines, but the Eagles have been the
league’s dominant force on both sides this year and boast both a superior pass block win rate
and pass rush win rate than the 49ers.

Key stats

  • Five straight Philadelphia playoff games have gone under the points total.
  • AJ Brown and DeVonta Smith have combined for 2,692 yards, 183 receptions and 18 touchdowns this season.
  • 49ers running back Christian McCaffrey has scored at least one touchdown in his last eight games.
  • The Eagles have produced 15 more sacks than any other NFL defense (70).
  • The Eagles are 8-2 at Lincoln Financial Field this season and are outscoring opponents there by an average of 10.4 points.


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