Prisco’s 2023 NFL Conference Championship: Joe Burrow leads Bengals back to Super Bowl, Eagles join them

The hot start of picking playoff games cooled quickly last weekend. It wasn’t a bad weekend, but it wasn’t a good one either.

I went 2-2 straight up, 2-2 against the spread in our CBSSports.com expert picks and 2-3 with my best bets as part of the Pick Six Podcast.

That’s not what I expected. I chose the New York Giants to hedge against the Philadelphia Eagles, which was a terrible choice. I also chose the Dallas Cowboys to cover against the San Francisco 49ers, a game I thought Dallas would win, and that looked like a push to a late field goal by the 49ers. Oh well. I got the gift of Jacksonville’s late field goal against the Chiefs to get that coverage.

It all evens out. But after the 4-2 ATS week on Super Wild Card Weekend, I’m now 6-4 going into the postseason. Last week I took all the ‘dogs’ with me. Not this week.

So let’s hope for a championship game to ensure a winning record in the postseason.

San Francisco 49ers at Philadelphia Eagles

Sunday, 3 p.m. ET (Fox, FuboTV)

Recommended game | Philadelphia Eagles v San Francisco 49ers

This is a game between two physical teams with good run games and good defensive fronts. That means it’s decided in advance no matter how many attacking playmakers are on the pitch.

The Eagles impressed last week by blowing out the Giants as the 49ers narrowly won at home against Dallas. The San Francisco offense struggled a bit in that game, but Brock Purdy got it going after a slow start to win his seventh straight game as a starter. However, this is more challenging because it’s against a better team on the road, his first playoff start on the road. Not only that, he faces a defense that led the NFL in sacks with 70, two off the record. They also come from all places, with four players having 10 or more sacks. Look for the Eagles to attack the right side of the 49ers offensive line, the weaker side.

The Eagles offense had another big rush day against the Giants, which is the basis of their offense. Jalen Hurts can throw it, but they need to be able to run it here. Therefore, their top-rated offensive line is key. They need to push in the run game and keep Nick Bosa and his gang off Hurts when they throw. The 49ers linebackers can run and cover, which is a must against the Eagles offense. Fred Warner and Dre Greenlaw are special. They will have to sit in this one.

But I’m looking for Hurts to beat Purdy and lead the Eagles to the Super Bowl. That Eagles offensive line and pass rush will decide this game.

Choose: Eagles 30, 49ers 21

Sunday, 6:30 p.m. ET (CBS, Paramount+)

Recommended game | Kansas City Chiefs v Cincinnati Bengals

The big issue here is the health of Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes. After a sprained high ankle against Jacksonville last week, will he be able to move? If not, what does that mean for the Chiefs’ offense since he does so much off-schedule and out-of-the-wallet damage?

The Kansas City offense did some good things when he returned against Jacksonville after the injury, but he certainly seemed limited in terms of mobility. That will matter against a Bengal defense that has so many moving parts and can blitz from anywhere. They’ve done a great job against him late in games in the last three times they’ve played. The Jaguars didn’t get behind Mahomes enough after he injured his ankle, but you can bet the Bengals will, even if that’s not the strategy they used to beat him in the title game last year. They came a long way behind Josh Allen in their upset win last week.

In that game, Joe Burrow and the offense had success moving the football. An offensive line trailing three starters played well as the Bengals ran it with Joe Mixon and Burrow hit some big shots in the passing play. Mixon didn’t play in the regular season between these teams this season, but he’ll be big on this one. The Chiefs can go after the quarterback, having logged 55 sacks this season, which will put a premium on ball running and protection for the Bengals, who could have some of those offensive linemen back.

The Bengals have beaten the Chiefs three consecutive times, including the AFC Championship Game last January and a regular season game this season. Burrow seems to enjoy the big moments. I expect him to play well here, with Mahomes limited mobility playing a role. That’s important and that’s why the Bengals are going to their second Super Bowl in a row.

Choose: Bengal 27, Chiefs 24

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