Why the Chiefs, Bengals, Eagles, 49ers Will, Won't Win the Super Bowl
The Kansas City Chiefs’ fate might depend on the health of Patrick Mahomes’ ankle and the Cincinnati Bengals aim to continue its recent success against the Chiefs. Meanwhile, the Philadelphia Eagles have been one of the best teams in the league all year and will now be tasked with ending Brock Purdy’s underdog story with the San Francisco 49ers.
Each of the four teams vying for the Super Bowl has key storylines following them as they prepare for NFL Conference Championship weekend.
Here is why each team could win the Super Bowl and why they could also end up falling short.
San Francisco 49ers at Philadelphia Eagles
Sunday, 3 p.m. ET, FOX
Lincoln Financial Field, Philadelphia
Why the Philadelphia Eagles will win the Super Bowl
The Eagles maintain the same playoff-winning formula that got them this far: run the ball and pressure the opposing quarterback.
According to NextGen Stats, the Eagles have four of the five best running performances of the season, including against the Green Bay Packers (363 yards, three TDs), New York Giants twice (253 yards, four TDs and 268 yards and three TDs) and the Detroit Lions (216 yards and four TDs).
The pass rush was just as dominant in the 38-7 divisional-round win over the Giants, with quarterback Daniel Jones pressured on 43% of dropbacks and Haason Reddick and Josh Sweat each getting 1.5 sacks.
Philadelphia led the league with 70 sacks during the regular season, which was 15 more than the Chiefs.
Why the Eagles won’t win the Super Bowl
Efficency-wise, there were no evidence signs quarterback Jalen Hurts was still ailing from the shoulder injury that forced him to miss two games this season. He completed 16 of 24 passes for 154 yards and two touchdowns in the win against the Giants last week and added 34 yards rushing on nine attempts and a rushing score.
The Eagles ran seven designed QB runs for Hurts and likely would have been more if not for the blowout nature of the contest. Philadelphia’s willingness to run Hurts points to him being the dual-threat QB he was much of the season but Hurts admitted to Pam Oliver his shoulder isn’t fully healed.
“I am nowhere near 100%, but I just gotta go out there and still get it done,” he told Oliver.
Whether it’s the 49ers, Chiefs or Bengals, those teams are good enough to potentially expose a weakness Hurts may experience with a weak shoulder.
The Eagles are +245 at DraftKings.
Why the San Francisco 49ers will win the Super Bowl
The 49ers are the hottest team in the NFL, having won 12 straight. Purdy is 7-0 as a starter. Nick Bosa is likely the NFL Defensive Player of the Year and led the league with 18.5 sacks.
San Francisco also has some of the best offensive playmakers at their positions, with running back Christian McCaffrey, receiver Deebo Samuel and tight end George Kittle.
The 49ers also had the best turnover differential in the NFL at +13 and used a 2-1 edge over the Dallas Cowboys for a 19-12 victory. There are numerous reasons to like this team to win it all.
Why the 49ers won’t win the Super Bowl
People have been waiting for Purdy, the last pick in the 2022 draft, to have a come-back-to-earth moment. But that hasn’t arrived.
He has been an efficient passer, completing 67% of his attempts for 1,474 yards and 13 TDs to four interceptions during the regular season and throwing for 546 yards and three touchdowns in two postseason wins.
However, now he heads to Philadelphia, which has one of the best pass rushes in the league and one of the more raucous home-field advantages. It’s a tall task for a rookie QB, even one as efficient as Purdy.
Then there’s the possibility of a rematch with the Chiefs. San Francisco’s last loss was a 44-23 beatdown to Kansas City in October.
The 49ers are +350 at BetMGM.
Cincinnati Bengals at Kansas City Chiefs
Sunday, 5:30 p.m. ET, CBS
GEHA Field at Arrowhead Stadium, Kansas City, Missouri
Why the Cincinnati Bengals will win the Super Bowl
A Super Bowl appearance last season and another AFC Championship berth have allowed Joe Burrow to be mentioned among the best quarterbacks in the league. Cincinnati entered the divisional round matchup against the Buffalo Bills down three offensive linemen and its front was expected to be a weak point.
And yet, Burrow was able to be his best pass protector.
On average, he got the ball out in just 2.5 seconds, which was the second-fastest rate in the divisional round behind only Hurts. In 37 dropbacks, he was sacked once and his 21.1% pressure rate was the lowest for any QB last weekend. Burrow finished with 242 yards passing and two touchdowns for a 101.9 QB rating.
Burrow and Cincinnati also have a recent edge over the Chiefs. The Bengals won 27-24 in overtime of last season’s AFC Championship and earned another 27-24 victory in December, and both of those meetings featured a healthy Mahomes. It’s still uncertain whether Mahomes will play on Sunday and how effective he will be.
Why the Bengals won’t win the Super Bowl
If any teams have the potential to take advantage of a makeshift Cincinnati offensive line, it’s the Chiefs and the Eagles.
The Chiefs were second in the league in sacks with 55, trailing only the Eagles (70).
The Bengals are +250 at FanDuel.
Why the Kansas City Chiefs will win the Super Bowl
Patrick Mahomes’ high ankle sprain heals better than expected, and he performs at the MVP level he has displayed all season. It’s simple: the Chiefs’ Super Bowl chances hinge on the health of Mahomes.
Kansas City coach Andy Reid was somewhat optimistic when he met with the media this week, noting Mahomes feels “OK.”
“He’s worked hard in the treatment and is doing OK,” Reid said. “He mentioned that he’s going to play. That’s his mindset, and then we’ll just take it day-by-day and see how he does.”
The Chiefs start to practice this week on Wednesday, which should give another indicator of the status of Mahomes. Reid did note Mahomes could play on Sunday without practicing all week.
“Yeah, I think so,” he said. “He’s never done that, so I don’t know. I don’t have the answer for you on that."
Why the Chiefs won’t win the Super Bowl
For all the optimism Reid shared with the media, it remains uncertain if Mahomes will be able to play. Even if he does, it’s fair to wonder how effective he will be.
His mobility was limited in the second half of the win over Jacksonville, forcing him to change his style. Mahomes did not throw a pass outside the pocket, making it the only second half this season where he threw all passes from the pocket.
With a healthy Mahomes, Cincinnati still has the edge over the Chiefs. The Bengals won 27-24 in overtime of last season’s AFC Championship and earned another 27-24 victory in December. Cincinnati has won seven of the past eight meetings between the two teams.
The Chiefs are +300 at BetMGM.
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