AFC, NFC Championship Games to Feature Stellar Quarterbacks
Posted on: January 23, 2023, 04:19h.
Last updated on: January 23, 2023, 10:14h.
Not even their favorite – and highly visible – sports bettor was able to give the Dallas Cowboys enough support to beat the San Francisco 49ers in the NFC divisional game on Sunday.
The Niners eliminated the Cowboys 19-12 to advance to the NFC title game for the third time in four years. It’s going to be a tough contest, as they face the Philadelphia Eagles, the leading team in the conference.
Mattress Mack was up to his old tricks before the game, but he wasn’t able to find success in the sportsbooks. He had put up $2 million that the Cowboys, underdogs heading into the contest, would beat the Niners.
Brock Purdy No Longer Irrelevant
No one should continue to tag Brock Purdy as Mr. Irrelevant. The rookie could soon become the fourth quarterback selected in the sixth round of the NFL Draft to win a conference championship in his first season.
Dieter Brock did it in 1985, Kurt Warner followed 14 years later, and Tom Brady joined the exclusive club in 2001. On the flip side, the Cowboys now have the unique distinction of having the longest streak of playoff appearances without a trip to the conference title game. They’ve racked up 12 divisional round visits without making it further.
Although Purdy played well on Sunday, the reason San Francisco won is because of their defense. The Niners forced two interceptions from Cowboys QB Dak Prescott as they continued to pressure the offense play after play. It didn’t help that the Cowboys seemed determined to fall apart at the end.
— NFL (@NFL) January 23, 2023
However, the Niners’ offense had difficulty capitalizing on the turnovers. They had to settle for field goals off each. But it was enough to keep San Francisco in the lead.
Dallas had to work at a disadvantage in the second half of the game, which didn’t help. Running back Tony Pollard suffered a game-ending injury in the first half that sidelined him, and the Cowboys could only muster a field goal in each of the game’s final two quarters.
The field goals weren’t sure things, either. Cowboys kicker Brett Maher, after missing four extra points against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the wild-card game, continued to have trouble. He missed his first extra point of Sunday’s game, leading to Texas Governor Greg Abbott raking him over the coals on Twitter.
Time for a Rematch
San Francisco now hopes to make it to the Super Bowl for the second time in four seasons. To do that, they’ll have to overcome the Eagles and QB Jalen Hurts.
The game is taking place at Lincoln Financial Field, Philly’s home turf. The last time these two met there, in September 2021, the Eagles took a 17-11 victory.
The Eagles go into the game as the favorites, but not by a huge margin. The books have the line at around -135 to +115.
Purdy, who is now 7-0 when starting, and running back Christian McCaffrey are turning out to be key assets for the Niners. Philly gets the advantage because of their consistency this season. But San Francisco has been on a hot streak as the season progressed, and can’t be easily dismissed.
Bengals Dominate in the Snow
It was freezing in Buffalo on Sunday, but Joe Burrow was on fire in this AFC divisional game. The QB threw two touchdown passes for the Cincinnati Bengals as they had a seemingly easy day against the Buffalo Bills.
On a snow-covered field, Burrow got the Bengals off to a great start with back-to-back TDs on their first two series. By the end of the first half, they were up 17-7. They ultimately won, 27-10.
While Burrow was resting on the sidelines, the defense was beating down the Bills’ offense, which made little progress. The only TD the team scored came from QB Josh Allen. He also led the team in rushing yards, picking up 26 on eight carries.
Not even a questionable call by the refs helped the Bills. The officiating crew reversed a potential TD catch by Ja’Marr Chase that will keep the debate over what constitutes a catch alive for a few more years.
It wasn’t until the fourth quarter that the Bills, playing in front of injured safety Damar Hamlin, who suffered an on-field cardiac arrest in a game against the Bengals earlier this month, showed any real signs of life. Allen finally found his stride and connected with wide receiver Stefon Diggs on big plays, but it was too little, too late.
Pro Bowler Diggs has been responsible for much of the team’s success this season, and he made it clear after the game that Allen was responsible for the loss.
The Kansas City Chiefs took down the Jacksonville Jaguars on Saturday and will now face the Bengals. They come in as the -120 favorites in what should be a thrilling game to watch.
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