NFC Championship Preview: Keys to a win for both the Eagles and the 49ers | You Pod to Win the Game
Yahoo Sports’ Charles Robinson, Frank Schwab and Charles McDonald discuss the NFC Championship Game matchup between the Philadelphia Eagles and the San Francisco 49ers, and debate which team’s strength will shine through and pave a path to the Super Bowl.
CHARLES ROBINSON: Let's start with San Francisco at Philadelphia. So the line right now, Philly is giving up 2 and 1/2. The tickets are nuts. They've drawn back a little bit now. They started off the week over $2,400 in the average price, which the next nearest average conference title game in NFL history was like $1,500-plus. Yeah, so this is-- even drawn back, I think it's a $1,800.
I mean, it's a game where the ticket's hot as hell. The environment's going to be crazy. It's going to be a ton of fun to watch. You guys-- I mean, I don't know. You guys break it down for me, and I'll tell you--
FRANK SCHWAB: Why we're wrong?
CHARLES ROBINSON: --maybe a couple little things that I've heard in terms of the planning on each side.
CHARLES MCDONALD: For the Eagles game, I mean, man-- the more I think about this game, I kind of feel like the 49ers defense is-- they're matched up really well, except for one area, I think, when you look at-- if Jalen Hurts is healthy, you got to at least test some deep balls just with your receiver talent against their cornerback talent.
AJ Brown and DeVonta Smith, I think, if Hurts can uncork it-- and last week, I was at Philly. After the game, he said that he felt good enough to play. And I felt like their gameplan kind of resembled that where, outside of that first shot they took to DeVonta Smith on the first drive of the game, they spent a lot of time throwing screens and a lot of short passes and letting guys make a play after the catch.
I don't think that that's going to work to the same degree against San Francisco just when you look at their linebacker and their safety talent, which is really, really incredible. But the one area is they can throw a go ball as well as any team in the league. The 49ers, it's one area where they kind of struggle a little bit. So if you can get AJ Brown and DeVonta Smith on the outside and just hit a couple of those plays, that can really change the game for you, I think.
But you're also in the danger spot of if that's what you're relying on, even if you're good at that, that's still a low-percentage play. And you kind of need to be able to find some success on first and second down to keep you out of those situations. And I don't know. I mean, it's tough because these are two elite units going at each other. But I really do like the way this 49ers defense matches up with the Eagles offense.
FRANK SCHWAB: Yeah, 49ers defense is a wagon right now. I mean, they're really getting into that conversation of 2015 Broncos, 2002 Buccaneers, who we're going to look back and say, yeah, that defense carried them to a championship. They're that good. I think on the other side, the one thing to me is, how healthy is Christian McCaffrey? Because the one thing--
CHARLES ROBINSON: I told you.
FRANK SCHWAB: --Philly-- I know.
CHARLES ROBINSON: I told y'all.
FRANK SCHWAB: You gave me--
CHARLES ROBINSON: I tried to tell you.
FRANK SCHWAB: You gave me the breakdown of him walking off the podium. I remember. But the one thing-- look, Philly can beat you in so many different ways. And they're so deep, and they're so good. The one thing that's kind of a weakness for them is run defense right in the middle. They have not been great at that, by any means. They're not God awful.
But I think San Francisco goes to this game saying, we got to run it. We want to limit Brock Purdy. Because Brock Purdy is on this incredible heater. The stat that I wrote about it this week, no rookie quarterback in NFL postseason history has more than 14 passes without an interception. Brock Purdy's on 59.
He's bound to-- I hate moving the goal post on Brock Purdy. It's like, oh, well, you got to do it in a playoff game. Oh, well, you got to do it against Cowboys. He's passed every test. He's fine. He's just what he is. He's a system guy. He does his job. Great for him.
But there's going to be bumps in the road. And with a Philly team that can get after the quarterback with all those double-digit sack guys, that can pick you off-- great playmakers on that back end-- this is the game where he has a two, three-interception game if you can force him to pass the ball and you're not just giving up 6 yards every carry up the middle to even Elijah Moore, who's a capable running back.
So to me, it's is Christian McCaffrey healthy, can San Francisco run the ball, and can they keep Brock Purdy from having to be in these high-pressure situations where everybody knows he's passing the ball and Philly can pin their ears back rush the quarterback? Because if they get in those situations, I think that's where Brock Purdy-- doesn't turn into a pumpkin, necessarily, but he shows that he's a rookie, last pick of the draft.
CHARLES ROBINSON: You guys want to make a pick?
FRANK SCHWAB: I'll take the Eagles. I just think the Eagles have been the best team since week 1 to right now. If you're saying, who was the best team in the NFL from the opening day to right now, it's the Eagles. They showed us last Saturday night and were pretty good. It worries me to think that Jalen Hurts-- like what Charles said about, yeah, I was good enough, feeling good enough. I mean, I don't know where Jalen Hurts is at.
Hey, if Philly gets that run game taken away, and he's got to throw it against that defense, can't he do it? I don't know. That's a question still in my mind. But I think he's answered most of the questions. He's good enough, like Charles said. So I'll take the Eagles. But it's tough because I hate picking against the 49ers. They're a really, really good team.
CHARLES MCDONALD: Yeah, I think I'm going to go with the 49ers just because I trust-- I like the defense. I really like how the defense matches up against the Eagles offense, especially with a lot of the horizontal stuff and screens they want to do. I think that plays right into what the 49ers are really good at on defense.
But I will say the danger area for me is Brock Purdy still. And I know I'm the big Brock Purdy hater on this podcast. I trust the 49ers defense to do enough where they can get to the Super Bowl with Brock Purdy, much against my desires.
CHARLES ROBINSON: You and Trey Lance both.