NFL playoff predictions: Game picks for AFC, NFC Championship games
After a thrilling weekend of divisional-round action, we’re down to the final four teams — the Cincinnati Bengals, Kansas City Chiefs, Philadelphia Eagles and San Francisco 49ers.
While the Chicago Bears have missed the playoffs for the second straight year, there’s still plenty of reasons to tune in to the postseason. That includes a couple of great matchups in the AFC and NFC Championship for the chance to make it to Super Bowl 57.
Our Bears Wire staff are sharing their game picks for this weekend’s AFC and NFC Championship games. Here’s who we’re picking to play in Super Bowl 57:
49ers at Eagles (Sun. 1/29 at 2 p.m. CT)
Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports
Alyssa Barbieri (7-3): 49ers 28, Eagles 27
The Eagles have appeared destined for a trip to Super Bowl 57 since the midway point of the season. Jalen Hurts has had an MVP-caliber year with a stacked offense. Not to mention, Philly’s defense has been one of the best defenses in the NFL, notching an-NFL best 70 sacks in the regular season. With that said, I’m finding it hard to pick against Brock Purdy and the 49ers. Even with Purdy playing his two worst games since taking over as starter, San Francisco still managed to come away with wins in both postseason contests. The Eagles will be the 49ers’ toughest challenge to date – and it’s going to be a close one – but I’m riding the Brock Purdy train until the wheels fall off.
Brendan Sugrue (6-4): Eagles 23, 49ers 19
Is the luster finally coming off Brock Purdy as the stakes keep getting higher? The Cowboys did a good job keeping the 49ers offense contained and now the Eagles can build off that with even more playmakers. Couple that with the fact Jimmy Garoppolo could be breathing down his neck and the pressure might be too much for the rookie. This is going to be a very entertaining matchup, but the Eagles are the more explosive team and they’re playing at home. Philadelphia is going to punch their ticket to their second Super Bowl in five years.
Ryan Fedrau (6-4): 49ers 31, Eagles 24
The top two seeds are going at it for the NFC Championship. We have Brock Purdy vs. Jalen Hurts. The last time these two quarterbacks played each other, Hurts beat Purdy, 42-41, in college. Purdy mounted a 20-point comeback but fell short. This time around, Purdy will pull through. The stacked 49ers offense will find a way to rebound from their poor showing against the Cowboys. They will bounce back by scoring 31 points and represent the NFC in the Super Bowl.
Bengals at Chiefs (Sun. 1/29 at 5:30 p.m. CT)
Mike Dinovo-USA TODAY Sports
Alyssa Barbieri (7-3): Bengals 31, Chiefs 23
No one’s surprised that Patrick Mahomes will be suiting up in this game. But no matter how much they try to convince us that Mahomes is fine after suffering a high ankle sprain last Saturday, there’s no denying that his limited mobility will be a huge factor in this game. I still would’ve picked the Bengals to win in this game, if Mahomes was healthy, but I feel even more confident given the circumstances. Joe Burrow and the Bengals have been playing lights out since November, where they won eight straight to close out the year. Once again, it feels like Cincinnati is bound for the Super Bowl.
Brendan Sugrue (6-4): Bengals 31, Chiefs 20
Playing through a high-ankle sprain is tough shortly after the injury occurs. Playing on it a week later after it swells up like a balloon is tougher. Patrick Mahomes is going to have a tough time against this Bengals defense and he’s going to need to score points to keep up with their offense. Joe Burrow is playing with supreme confidence and should have all of his weapons available on Sunday. Even with the line banged up, there’s no stopping Cincinnati.
Ryan Fedrau (6-4): Bengals 29, Chiefs 23
We’ve got a rematch of last year’s AFC Championship. Joe Burrow has led his team on a run similar to last seasons, while Patrick Mahomes has played Mahomes-like football until his injury against the Jaguars. With his high ankle sprain, Kansas City will be at a disadvantage on offense, but I don’t think things will be as lop-sided as some may think. It will be a one-score game, with the Bengals going to back-to-back Super Bowls.