NFL Picks NFC Championship Game (2022 regular season)
NFL PICKS (NFC CHAMPIONSHIP GAME)
BY PROFESSOR MJ
Written Wednesday January 25th, 2023 at 10 am Eastern Time (spreads/odds may have changed)
I already shared with you my thoughts on the AFC Championship game from a betting perspective. In fact, I gave you a pick on the moneyline, and a lean on the total number of points to be scored during the game (link here!).
It is now time to present to you some betting tips regarding the NFC title game between the San Francisco 49ers and the Philadelphia Eagles. Are you ready? Let’s gooooo!!!
NFC CONFERENCE CHAMPIONSHIP GAME: SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS AT PHILADELPHIA EAGLES
A PICK ON THE POINT SPREAD
As of Wednesday morning, the vast majority of sportsbooks have the 49ers as 2.5-point underdogs at -105 odds, or as 3-point underdogs at around -120 odds. After analyzing the game carefully, I prefer to put my money on San Francisco and the line I liked the most was the Niners +3 points at -115 odds with a couple of sportsbooks. That is my main pick regarding the NFC Championship game, but later on I will share my thoughts on how to approach the total.
Both teams had an offense that ranked in the top-5 in the league. As far as the defense goes, let’s see what the famous EPA statistic has to say. Over the entire season, San Francisco had the #1 defense, while Philly ranked fourth.
If you focus on all games from Week 14 until today, the Niners ranked third, while the Eagles dropped to the 9th place. But the most concerning part about Philadelphia is their run defense, that ranked 20th in the league since Week 14. Given how great San Francisco’s run game is, that is not something you want to hear if you are an Eagles fan.
Let’s discuss the rest factor. Nick Sirianni’s squad will be at home for the fifth straight week, and they will benefit from one extra day of rest since they played last Saturday, rather than Sunday. However, San Francisco should be okay too since they remained at home for three weeks in a row prior to this upcoming match.
I know the Eagles looked great on both sides of the ball last week when they demolished the Giants. But let’s keep in mind that New York may have been a weaker opponent, as evidenced by their -6 point differential during the regular season. Meanwhile, the Niners had to defeat the Cowboys, whose point differential was +125, so eliminating them was a much harder task.
Also, that great Eagles victory last week has not completely erased from my memory the fact that they showed some signs of weakness in their three prior games. They struggled to beat the Giants backups in Week 18, after losing at home against the Saints and on the road in Dallas.
Meanwhile, let’s also remember how the 49ers have won 12 consecutive games. They are hard to beat, and by taking them +3 points they must lose by a margin of at least four points in order for the bet to lose. That seems like an event that has less than a 45% chance of happening, which is why I am putting my money on Kyle Shanahan’s team.
A LEAN ON THE TOTAL
As of now, I am NOT touching the total in this game, but if forced to bet I’d go with under 46 points. We have two of the most run-heavy teams in the NFL facing each other, which bodes well for the under since plays on the ground chew up more time than passes, which can go incomplete and stop the clock.
Moreover, as discussed earlier, Philadelphia’s defense is more vulnerable against the run, so the Niners have every reason to pound the rock. The icing on the cake is the fact that San Francisco ranked dead last in the league in terms of pace of play. In fact, they averaged 30.23 seconds per play, which indicates they take their time before putting the ball in play. The 49ers can still score long touchdowns with explosive plays, but the Eagles have been solid at keeping plays in front of them and protecting against such big plays.
On the other side, the Eagles also have a solid attack, but San Francisco’s defense limited the Cowboys to just 12 points last week. Given Dallas averaged more than 27 points per game during the regular season despite having Cooper Rush start several games, this was an outstanding performance by DeMeco Ryans’ defense.
Pick: 49ers +3 (at -115 odds)
Lean: Under 46
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(Sports Betting Expert / University Professor / PhD in statistics)