There will always be lingering bitterness for the San Francisco 49ers after the 2023 NFC Championship game. By the time the 49ers made it to the NFC Championship game last season, San Francisco didn’t have a healthy NFL-ready starting quarterback. Josh Johnson started the game and was ripped apart by a vicious Philadelphia Eagles defense.
Eagles’ fans would tell you they believed they were the better team, even if San Francisco had surprising rookie quarterback Brock Purdy under center. Both teams will get their first opportunity to see what a potential matchup between a healthier version of Purdy and this Eagles’ defense would look like.
While Philadelphia, which later went on to lose the Super Bowl against Kansas City last season, has been forced to rebuild this year’s defense on the fly due to injuries, they haven’t had an issue with picking up wins on the schedule. According to recent sports news, Philadelphia became the first team in the NFL to clinch a playoff spot last week.
The 49ers are 8-3 and are in a position to chase down Philadelphia for the top seed with a win in this game. With this being a potential NFC Championship game preview, the ramifications of this game will loom large.
Texans and Broncos Seeking to Avoid Fraud Watch
The Houston Texans have been the NFL’s surprise story this season. But whether or not that narrative ends with a feel-good playoff appearance or not will play out over the next few weeks. Texans rookie quarterback C.J. Stroud has been one of the fall’s best Black sports news stories.
Houston is off to a 6-5 start and is on the edge of the playoff picture. The Texans have proven they can beat top-quality opposition with wins over Pittsburgh and Jacksonville. It’s hard to say what quality of competition Denver would fall into.
The Broncos have won five straight games to insert themselves into the playoff picture. By beating Buffalo and Kansas City, the Broncos proved they aren’t just taking other weak teams to task. But Denver has hardly looked the part.
Veteran quarterback Russell Wilson has still looked uncomfortable in the offense. This game will be one that both sides need to win. Whatever team loses this game may be headed for a longer offseason.
Coaches on Their Last Legs Bowl Set for Foxboro
New England coach Bill Belichick is a legendary coach who badly wants to break the all-time wins record set by Baltimore Colts/Miami Dolphins coach Don Shula. But the Patriots will likely not want to give him that opportunity.
Up-to-date sports news shows New England is off to a 2-9 start, and rumors are Belichick may be out at the end of the season. The coach across the sidelines from Belichick Sunday may be meeting him on the unemployment line after the season. Brandon Staley hasn’t been able to right the ship for the Los Angeles Chargers.
After blowing a large lead against Jacksonville in the first round of the playoffs last year, the fanbase has been keeping a close eye on Staley’s performance. Los Angeles fans are worried that the prime of star quarterback Justin Herbert is being wasted. The Chargers are 4-7 and likely will need to string together a long winning streak to avoid missing the playoffs.
Falcons Need to Take Advantage of the Jets
New York quarterback Zach Wilson hasn’t made the most of his opportunity under center. The Jets would likely be eager to see this season come quickly to a close. After the injury to Aaron Rodgers in Week 1, things have mostly been downhill for New York.
While Atlanta’s record isn’t pretty, the Falcons have a lot to play for against the Jets. Atlanta, amazingly, moved back into first place in the NFC South after beating New Orleans last week. But the Falcons are far from perfect.
Atlanta is likely the product of a weak schedule. The Falcons have had trouble at quarterback all season as second-year starter Desmond Ridder has been turnover-prone. Atlanta must also prove it can win on the road in this matchup. The Falcons are 1-4 away from home this season.
Colts Need to Take Care of Business
The Indianapolis Colts still being in the playoff race this late in the season is wild. The Colts chose Anthony Richardson as their quarterback of the future in this year’s draft. He started the year as Indianapolis’ signal caller but was quickly out of the lineup due to injury.
Despite Richardson’s injury and the demands of running back Jonathan Taylor to be traded, the Colts are 6-5 and in the heart of the AFC playoff race. Indianapolis has won three straight games and will lock up with the offensively challenged Titans this weekend.
Tennessee has started rookie quarterback Will Levis over the past month with mixed results. While Levis has flashed potential, he has also looked like the inexperienced rookie he is. Tennessee is a scrappy team at home and isn’t one that the Colts should take lightly.
Lions Need to Bounce Back
The Detroit Lions don’t have much of a threat of any teams catching them in the division race. All of the teams below them in the race have serious issues at quarterback or with competence. But Detroit, which is positioned to win its first division crown in 30 years, will want to try and stay in the race for the NFC’s top seed.
The Lions, who suffered a tough loss to Green Bay on Thanksgiving, won’t be able to relax this weekend either. New Orleans has quarterback issues but has shown through the season that its defense is strong enough to keep them in games. If the Lions run into turnover troubles, this could be a potential trap game, as the Saints hope to stay in the race for the NFC South title.
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