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Championship Game Observations -- And Guessing The Super Bowl Line
The Conference Title games were a good reminder that high stakes does not necessarily mean high quality. The 49ers-Eagles was one of the worst games I’ve ever watched in any sport at any level. The Eagles first TD was set up by a long 4th-and-3 conversion that was actually an incomplete pass. For God knows what reason Kyle Shanahan didn’t challenge — dude, it doesn’t matter that the Eagles are hurrying up and not allowing you to get a look, on a play that seismic, anything close, you throw the flag, burn a first-half timeout if you’re wrong!
Then Brock Purdy got hurt, and Josh Johnson came in. Johnson is like Joe Montana for a fourth-string QB — he’s actually had experience and isn’t that terrible! But he had two delay of game penalties and lost a fumble, down seven, at the end of the first half. The Eagles scored, Johnson himself got hurt, and the game was essentially over as the 49ers couldn’t throw a forward pass.
The other bizarre thing about this game was Eagles tackle Lane Johnson false starting on virtually every play and the refs flagging him only once, while docking the Niners for every ticky tack infraction imaginable. They even called an massive roughing the punter penalty to give the Eagles a key first down when the replay showed the player was blocked into him. Not since the Steelers-Seahawks Super Bowl have I seen a game referreed so one-sidedly. What a waste of a championship game. It’s one thing to lose, quite another not to have a game at all.
The Bengals-Chiefs was a much better game, but for it to end on late-hit out-of-bounds play was just stupid. For all the talk of Joe Burrow vs Patrick Mahomes, both of whom played great, it was a penalty that didn’t affect the play that sealed the game. I’m not arguing it wasn’t a late hit — it surely was as Mahomes was already out of bounds — but it just exposed a flaw in the NFL rules. Fine him, jail him, draw-and-quarter Joseph Ossai after the game if you must to deter late hits, but do not determine who does and does not go to the Super Bowl on infractions that do not affect the play.
The Super Bowl has the two one seeds, both of which were doubted for much of the year. In the AFC the Bills were considered the best team, while the Eagles were a bit of a surprise, and people weren’t sold on Jalen Hurts. The Eagles have looked better in the playoffs, but they’ve had an easy road — a bye, then home games against an undermanned Giants team and the 49ers without a quarterback.
The Chiefs had trouble with the Jaguars and Bengals, but Mahomes got hurt against Jacksonville, and the Bengals are a legitimately good team. Oddly, at least while watching the 40-minute edited version, I totally forgot about Mahomes’ high-ankle sprain — he seemed like himself to me. I thought sprains of that variety typically last 4-6 weeks, too.
I’m in 253rd place in the postseason contest out of 1700-odd teams, but I’m drawing dead with my 4x QBs Purdy and Burrow gone. I do have 4x Travis Kelce and AJ Brown, plus 3x Eagles defense, but I’m sure half the teams have Kelce and Brown. Purdy getting .45 at 3x was a killer.
I might as well guess the Super Bowl line here. I heard the generic NFC-AFC line was AFC -2 before the game, and I’d imagine it’s about that right now. I’d say Chiefs minus two on a neutral field to account for Andy Reid’s and Mahomes’ experience. I’ll make my line Eagles -2.5 and probably take them. I like backing the superior defense in the Super Bowl, and the Eagles offense is good too. Reid will have a good game plan with two weeks to prepare, and I’ll write it up in more detail next week, but I’m probably taking the Eagles.
. . .
(I just looked, and the real line is Eagles minus two, so the apparently the market is much closer to me than I thought. I’ll probably take the Eagles anyway, but I have to think harder about it now.)