The NFC Championship Game on Sunday between the San Francisco 49ers and Philadelphia Eagles could end up being a doozy.
Both teams are relatively evenly matched, and in some ways, they’re thought to be mirror images of each other, as they both boast strong running games with multiple threats, as well as hard-hitting defenses.
It could be up to a couple of players to ultimately decide the outcome and determine which squad will advance to Super Bowl LVII in Glendale, Ariz.
Keep an eye on these two men, as they could be the biggest X-factors in this contest.
49ers Quarterback Brock Purdy
Purdy has been outstanding ever since taking over for the injured Jimmy Garoppolo in Week 13, but he will be entering uncharted waters on Sunday.
As a rookie who was the last player chosen in the 2022 NFL Draft, naturally, there are questions about how Purdy will handle the pressure of not just the Eagles but also their fans, who are arguably the most vicious in the nation.
He could very well come out and play well yet again, but at the same time, Philly’s defense could make Purdy come down to earth for the first time.
Eagles Defensive Tackle Ndamukong Suh
Suh was signed by Philly in November, and while he’s definitely past his prime, he could be a key in this type of situation.
The 36-year-old has plenty of playoff experience, which includes two Super Bowl appearances and a world championship ring in 2020 as a member of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
The Eagles’ one weakness is their run defense, and although Suh doesn’t play a ton of snaps anymore, perhaps he can make some big tackles and plays in key situations to keep the 49ers’ heavy-duty ground attack in check.
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This is a simpler way of illustrating run defense DVOA, where 49ers rank #2 and Eagles rank #21 — which is very significant discrepancy within the context of this matchup
— David Lombardi (@LombardiHimself) January 24, 2023