2023 NFL Conference Championship Picks: Joe Burrow leads Bengals to Super Bowl, Eagles join them

2023 NFL Conference Championship Picks: Joe Burrow leads Bengals to Super Bowl, Eagles join them

The hot start picking playoff games went downhill quickly this past weekend. It wasn’t a bad weekend, but it wasn’t a good one either.

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

This is not what I expected. I picked the New York Giants to cover against the Philadelphia Eagles, and it was a terrible choice. I also picked the Dallas Cowboys for cover against the San Francisco 49ers, a game I thought Dallas would win, and that seemed like a push until a late field goal by the 49ers. Oh, okay. Got the gift of the late Jacksonville field goal against the Chiefs to get that cap.

Everything settles. But after a 4-2 ATS week in Super Wild Card weekend, they are now 6-4 in the postseason. Last week, I took in all the dogs. Not this week.

So let’s hope they sweep the championship game to secure a winning record in the postseason.

San Francisco 49ers at Philadelphia Eagles

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

Featured game | Philadelphia Eagles vs San Francisco 49ers

This is a game between two physical teams with good running games and good defensive fronts. This means that it will be predetermined, no matter how many offensive playmakers are on the field.

The Eagles shone last week by defeating the Giants, while the 49ers won at home against Dallas. San Francisco’s offense struggled some in that game, but Brock Purdy got it after a slow start to win his seventh straight as a starter. This, though, presents an even greater challenge because it’s against a better team on the road, their first playoff game on the road. Not only that, he’s facing a defense that led the NFL in sacks with 70, two unofficially. They come from all locations as well, 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 great rushing day against the Giants, and this is the basis of their offense. Jalen Hurts can throw it, but they need to be able to run it here. This is why a top rated offensive line is key. They have to squeeze in the running game and keep Nick Bosa and a gang of Hurts in when they throw. The 49ers’ linebackers can run and cover, which is a must against the Eagles offense. Fred Warner and Dre Greenlaw are featured. They must be in this.

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

pluck or pluck: Eagles 30, 49ers 21

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

Featured game | Kansas City Chiefs vs. Cincinnati Bengals

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

The Kansas City offense did some good things when it came back against Jacksonville after injury, but it certainly looked limited in terms of mobility. That will be important against a Bengals defense that has a lot of moving parts and can attack from all over. They’ve done a great job against him late in games the last three times they’ve played him. The Jaguars haven’t come up with Mahomes enough after he hurt his ankle, but you can bet the Bengals will, although that’s not the strategy they used to beat him in the title game last year. They came very far behind Josh Allen last week in their upset win.

In that game, Joe Borough and the offense moved the football. Offensive line was short of three starters as the Bengals played Joe Mixon and Boro hit some big shots in the passing game. Mixon hasn’t played in a regular season game between these teams this season, but he’s going to be a big hit this season. The Chiefs can get a quarterback, after recording 55 sacks this season, which will put a premium on running the ball and protecting the Bengals, who could win back some offensive linemen.

The Bengals have beaten the Chiefs three times in a row, including the AFC Championship game last January and the regular season game this season. Boro seems to be enjoying the big moments. I expect him to play well here, while Mahomes’ limited mobility will. This is important and is why the Bengals moved on to their second consecutive Super Bowl.

pluck or pluck: 27 Bengals, 24 Chiefs

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