John Fredericks: 2023 NFL Conference Championship Picks
San Francisco 49ers at Philadelphia Eagles -2.5
3:00 pm EST on FOX
This is a simple choice. Your enemy here is overthinking this game. Philly has been the best team in the NFL from start to finish this entire 2022 season. What’s changed? They lost a couple games when Jalen Hurts was out with injury and the division was wrapped up.
Their defense is ferocious both up front and in the secondary. Here’s the rub: young Brock Purdy has been solid no doubt, but he’s never faced a defense with the speed and athleticism the Eagles have. It reminds me of Kerry Collins and the New York Giants facing the Ravens in Tampa in the Super Bowl, whatever it was. Collins never saw that speed on an opposing defense and was ineffective in the Ravens rout, scoring only on a punt return.
The ‘Niners are flying cross country and the Eagles fans started drinking on Thursday. It will be loud.
I’m going with the best team. I’m not betting a rookie QB on the road facing a juggernaut in a hostile environment.
John’s Pick: Eagles -2.5
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Cincinnati Bengals at Kansas City Chiefs -1.5
6:30 EST on CBS
I’m 64 and I’ve bet on football since I was 15 where I took a book in high school for $1 a game on football parlay cards. Seldom am I surprised.
Last Sunday broke that chain. I was shocked at the sheer physicality of the Bengals up front on both sides of the ball. With three offensive lineman starting off their practice squad, Cincinnati pushed around the Bills like rag dolls in the trenches.
The Bengals owned the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball. Now they are healthy.
Joey Burrow has backed up his incessant hubris with exceptional play. He’s been relentless and on fire. If he’s sacked less than five times a game, he’s 14-1. The Chiefs ste unlikely to get that level of pressure.
The Bills have a great defense and Burrow fleeced them. I’ve said all year the Chiefs are overrated and are basically propped up by a weak schedule, media hype and one unbelievable talent: Patrick Mahomes. And he’s hobbled. The Chiefs defense has been suspect all season and they can’t match the physical nature of the Bengals. Like Mike Tyson says: Your game plan is fine until you get punched in the face.
KC is about to get an old fashioned Ohio haymaker under the chin. I’ll take smash-mouth over finesse in the NFL anytime. Especially here.