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Joe Burrow leads Bengals back to Super Bowl, Eagles join them

Last weekend, the early heat in the playoff game predictions gradually subsided. The weekend wasn’t great, but it wasn’t terrible, either.

This matchup features two strong teams with strong run games and fronts on defense. No matter how many offensive playmakers are on the field, it will be determined upfront.

Last week’s rout of the Giants by the Eagles was impressive, but the 49ers’ victory over Dallas at home was close. In that contest, the San Francisco offense had some issues, but Brock Purdy overcame them to earn his sixth consecutive victory as a starter. His first road playoff start against a better team, however, makes this a bigger test. Additionally, he is up against a defense that ranked first in the NFL for sacks with 70, two shy of the record. They come from every position, and four of them have accumulated 10 or more sacks. The weaker right side of the 49er’s offensive line will likely come under pressure from the Eagles.

The Eagles made a strong impression last week by dominating the Giants, while the 49ers triumphed narrowly at home against Dallas. That game saw some offensive struggles for San Francisco, but Brock Purdy overcame them to earn his sixth straight victory as a starter. But since this is his first postseason start on the road against a superior squad, it will be more difficult. He’s up against a defense that led the NFL in sacks with 70, which is two off the record. Four of the players have 10 or more sacks, and they come from every position. The weaker side of the 49er’s offensive line on the right is where the Eagles are likely to assault.

The condition of Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes is the main concern here. Will he be able to move after suffering a severe ankle sprain last week versus Jacksonville? If not, what does it indicate for the Chief’s offense, given how much damage he causes outside the pocket and ahead of schedule?

When he made a comeback versus Jacksonville following the injury, the Kansas City offense performed well, but he clearly had limited mobility. That will be important against a Bengals defense that is so complex and capable of blitzing from anywhere. In their last three meetings, they’ve done a fantastic job of containing him late in games. Since Mahomes injured his ankle, the Jaguars didn’t pursue him as much as the Bengals would, even if it wasn’t how they defeated him in the championship game the previous season. In their shocking triumph last week, they relentlessly pursued Josh Allen.

Joe Burrow and the offense were successful in moving the football in that contest. When the Bengals ran the offense with Joe Mixon and Burrow, the offensive line performed admirably despite missing three starters. Even though Mixon did not participate in the regular-season matchup between these two clubs this year, he will be crucial in this one. After recording 55 sacks this season, the Chiefs can pressure the quarterback, which will emphasize the need to run the ball and provide protection for the Bengals, who might have some of that offensive lineman back.

Three times in a row, the Bengals have defeated the Chiefs, including in the AFC Championship Game last January and a regular-season contest this year. Burrow seems to enjoy the significant events. Given that Mahomes’ limited mobility will be a factor, I anticipate him to perform well here. The Bengals will be attending their second consecutive Super Bowl because that counts.


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