Now that we are officially onto Super Bowl 57, let’s recap the NFL Conference Championship games and some early Super Bowl 57 thoughts on the Chiefs Vs. Eagles.
NFL Conference Championship Recaps
Whether you are a Eagles and Chiefs fan, or a Bengals and Niners fan, then you have vast different opinions on how last night’s games panned out. The officiating was inconsistent head-scratching to say the least, getting so bad that #NFLRigged was trending shortly after the final whistle. Nonetheless, the games were played out and now we have a Super Bowl consisting of the Kansas City Chiefs and Philadelphia Eagles. Let’s recap how we got to this point.
Philadelphia Eagles vs. San Francisco 49ers
The game was labeled as “what could have been” for all 49er fans as they witnessed one of the most unfortunate games in NFL history. As if the injury bug could not have gotten any worse for them throughout the course of the season with injuries to their top two quarterbacks, the San Francisco 49ers were struck once again after losing both Brock Purdy and his backup Josh Johnson.
The harsh reality is that they still had hope when Johnson took over as the fourth-string quarterback. Bringing a veteran presence under center and a dual-threat approach to keep the Eagles defense reeling while they built momentum on the ground. His throws were shaky early on but he eventually settled in and connected multiple times across the middle. That was until he went down with an injury, bringing any momentum the Niners had to a scorching halt.
It’s tough to say whether the 49ers had a legitimate shot against the Eagles with Purdy getting injured early on, but you can confidently say their offense would have operated a lot more efficiently should he have been healthy. After Johnson was injured, Purdy was thrust back in and played a far too conservative approach. Forcing the 49ers to limit the playbook to early-down runs and short pass screens.
I don’t care how good your run game is or how stout your offensive line can protect, if the defense can stack the box knowing that your playbook is limited then you are doomed from the start. That is exactly what happened when Johnson was ruled out as the Eagles sent pressure down the middle and shut down Christian McCaffery and Deebo Samuel.
Credit to the Eagles for taking advantage of the situation. Their defense gave their offense ample opportunities to capitalize, and capitalize they did behind an effective ground game. The Niners elite defense could only slow them down so much before the Eagles play action heavy offense found enough success to put this away.
Kansas City Chiefs vs. Cincinnati Bengals
I can’t remember a game in recent memory that had more hype and build up leading up to it than this one, as the Bengals were loud and proud on social media before kickoff. The Cincinnati mayor released a video, Arrowhead was labeled as Burrowhead, social media jabs were thrown frequently, and tensions were as high as we could have imagined as kickoff got underway.
This game also brought on intrigue as the Chiefs were dealing injuries to their two best players in Patrick Mahomes and Travis Kelce. Mahomes was injured in their last game after an unfortunate tackle that ended up hurting his ankle, while Kelce was a late addition to the injury report with a back issue that he sustained in Friday’s practice. To no one’s surprise at all, both were able to play in this one.
Mahomes looked good early on, being able to do work in the pocket and limit the amount of pressure put on his ankle. Even when he was forced to scramble, his throws were crisp and accurate as he routinely hit his playmakers in stride. This was appealing to see as the Chiefs offense lives and dies through the production of the best quarterback in the league.
Not only was Mahomes’ production vital, but the Chiefs defense stepped up in a major way by taking advantage of the Bengals backup offensive lineman. They brought relentless pressure from their defensive line, getting to Joe Burrow early and often. They had more sacks than Burrow had completions in the first quarter, holding them for zero yards which is an impressive feat in its own right.
This gave the Chiefs a much needed cushion on the scoreboard against one of the most high powered pass attacks going into the second half. The Bengals offensive line production did improve later on, giving Burrow more time to let plays develop and hit his receivers for major gains.
This eventually led to a tied contest late in the fourth quarter, and that’s where things got murky depending who you root for. After a phantom whistle gave the Chiefs an extra third down, Bengals fans were in a frizzle with how this was being played out. The Bengals eventually stopped them on that odd drive before punting it back after a failed drive of their own with 40 seconds left on the clock. The Chiefs returned the kick with a big gain, making Bengals fans uneasy with what was bound to happen.
As if the refs couldn’t have been any more involved, they capped it off with an unnecessary roughness call as Mahomes ran out of bounds that put them in field goal range with little time left on the clock. That sealed the Bengals fate as the Chiefs walked away the victor and stamped their ticket to the Super Bowl.
Super Bowl 57 Early Thoughts
It’s tough to say, but neither of these games gave me room to work with from an early line perspective. It was encouraging to see Mahomes still be able to play at an elite level while dealing with an injury. Kelce also looked fine as his back injury did not hamper his route running. They did lose a couple of playmakers at receiver mid game, giving me pause before playing them on an early line as I will want to monitor their injury status.
As for the Eagles, their road to the playoffs has been less to be desired as they benefited from a very weak NFC conference field. They steamrolled the fraudulent Giants and got as fortunate as possible against the 49ers in an injury riddled game. While their numbers are impressive, their weak schedule has played a major factor in their metrics that can not be ignored.
The opening line movement has also been a sight to behold as the Chiefs opened as high as -1.5 before flipping to +2.5 in a matter of 30 minutes. I have little to no hope that it will hit +3, but still will be worth monitoring as that is a key number. I lean the Chiefs regardless should their receivers be good to go, but will wait for the time being. This is a rare opportunity where you get to take the greatest quarterback of all time as an underdog in the biggest game of the year.
Early lean: Chiefs +2.5