49ers vs. Eagles prediction: NFL odds, pick for NFC Championship game

49ers vs. Eagles prediction: NFL odds, pick for NFC Championship game
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After a grueling 20 weeks that saw both teams battle injuries under center, the Eagles and 49ers meet on Sunday in a game that oddsmakers expect to be a dogfight.

Philadelphia is getting the slight edge in the betting market, dealing as a 2.5-point home favorite with the juice in its favor (-115). Of course, San Francisco is no ordinary underdog after winning 12 consecutive games to secure the team’s third NFC Championship berth in four seasons.

The winner will move on to the Super Bowl and face the AFC champion in Arizona on February 12th.

Here’s how we’re betting Sunday’s contest, which kicks off at 3 p.m. ET on FOX.

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Eagles vs. 49ers odds (via BetMGM)

  • Eagles -2.5 (-115), moneyline -150
  • 49ers +2.5 (-105), moneyline +125
  • O/U 46.5 (-110)

Eagles vs. 49ers prediction and analysis (3 p.m. ET, FOX)

We should be treated to an epic matchup this weekend between the two most complete and deserving teams in the NFC. Just don’t expect there to be a ton of points scored.

Both of these offenses are predicated on the success of elite rushing attacks that ranked in the top eight in yards and touchdowns during the regular season. This weekend, though, each side faces a difficult schematic matchup that will make it tough to replicate that success this week.

All year long, the Eagles have killed teams running out of 11 personnel, leading the league in offensive EPA per rush (0.17) across the regular season and postseason. Fittingly, the Niners’ defense ranks first in defensive EPA per rush from 11 personnel (0.18) and has allowed just 3.2 yards per carry against inside zone from that formation – a staple of Philly’s run game.

Conversely, San Francisco’s offense featured the league’s second-highest usage rate of 21 personnel (32.3%), which allows the team to employ its “death lineup” of Christian McCaffrey, Kyle Juszczyk, Brandon Aiyuk, Deebo Samuel and George Kittle all at the same time. Yet the Eagles ranked eighth in defensive success rate against 21 personnel and similarly yielded 3.2 yards per carry to outside zone runs from that look, which are key to Kyle Shanahan’s offense.

That puts some serious pressure on these two passers to perform in uncomfortable environments on Sunday – and that bodes well for the under.

San Francisco 49ers quarterback Brock Purdy faces a tough matchup against the Philadelphia Eagles in Sunday's NFC Championship.
San Francisco 49ers quarterback Brock Purdy faces a tough matchup against the Philadelphia Eagles in Sunday’s NFC Championship.Getty Images

After a legendary run for Brock Purdy in the regular season, we haven’t exactly seen the same version of the rookie passer in his first-ever postseason. His final stat line in the divisional round (332 yards, 4 total TDs) was bolstered by a strong second half with a healthy lead, but he struggled mightily in the first half of that game. And he set career lows in touchdown passes (0) and passer rating (87.4) last week against the Cowboys’ defense, which was easily the best he’d ever seen.

Things will get even tougher this week against the Eagles, who led the league in sacks (70) and sack rate (12.6%) and boast the best cornerback duo in football in James Bradberry and Darius Slay. With those two locking down the boundaries, Philadelphia is particularly equipped to take away easy opportunities over the middle of the field – allowing the fewest yards after the catch on average on in-breaking routes (2.0) and the third-lowest rate of big plays on those catches (13.5%).

That’s obviously a problem for San Francisco, which has led the league in in-breaking routes each of the last five seasons and has built a “positionless” offense around generating explosive gains on such routes. It’s also a major issue for Purdy, who throws significantly more of his passes over the middle of the field (62%) than the league-average quarterback (44.6%).

This stage is a particularly tough time to ask Purdy to reinvent himself on the fly. The former seventh-round pick is just the fifth quarterback since the merger to start a conference championship game as a rookie; the previous four lost by an average of 10.3 points with a combined four touchdowns and nine interceptions.

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Jalen Hurts faces a tough test, too, against the most dominant defense in the league. The Eagles quarterback led his team to 6.0 yards per play last week against the Giants, but he was hardly tested all night – he was sacked just once, attempted a season-low 24 passes and averaged a career-low 2.41 seconds per throw.

That simply won’t last against the 49ers’ ferocious front seven, especially if Philadelphia isn’t able to keep San Francisco off balance with a dynamic run game. The Eagles’ offense is virtually unstoppable with Hurts as a true threat in the run game, but I’m just not sure we’ll see the one-time MVP favorite fully unleashed as he fights through a right shoulder sprain.

If I had to go with a side here, I’d be backing Philly, which seemingly has more answers and counter-punches available than the 49ers do with a rookie quarterback. That said, I’m skeptical of either offense making headway against these elite defensive units, which should make for a strong under play and one heck of a conference title game.

Eagles vs. 49ers pick