The NFL is nearing the Closing 4.
With the Divisional Spherical over, we now know which 4 groups nonetheless have a shot at advancing to Tremendous Bowl LVII. As for the AFC, there is a rematch of final 12 months’s AFC Championship sport because the Cincinnati Bengals return to Arrowhead Stadium to tackle the Kansas Metropolis Chiefs.
Within the NFC, the Philadelphia Eagles superior to the NFC Championship Sport after defeating the New York Giants and can host the San Francisco 49ers, who defeated the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday evening.
Has this weekend modified our considering at SB Nation? Nicely, possibly a proper ankle harm…
This is how we see the final 4 groups as voted by our employees.
1. Philadelphia Eagles
The Philadelphia Eagles took the primary spot within the NFC because of their common season play.
And on Saturday evening they reminded the soccer world how good they are often.
After the farewell week, the Eagles defeated the New York Giants by a ultimate rating of 38-7, advancing to the NFC Championship Sport for the primary time since their look in Tremendous Bowl LII. Quarterback Jalen Hurts recovered from a lingering shoulder harm by finishing 16 of 24 passing yards for 154 yards and a pair of touchdowns, including one other 34 dashing yards and a landing within the victory. However one other participant coping with harm, right-forward Lane Johnson, additionally seemed stable within the win. Johnson suffered a torn adductor muscle on Christmas Eve however shrugged off surgical procedure to return to the playoffs.
Then there was an Eagles protection that slowed the New York Offensive, sacked Daniel Jones 5 occasions, and compelled an interception in a victory.
It was the sort of full efficiency many thought earlier this 12 months that the Eagles would certainly be the workforce to beat within the NFC. Hurts’ harm left some questioning if the street to the Tremendous Bowl would move by means of a metropolis apart from Philadelphia, however the workforce we noticed on Saturday evening definitely appears to be like like a workforce that may make a really deep run.
However the subsequent step? Brock Purdy cracked.
— Mark Schofield
2. Kansas Metropolis bosses
Patrick Mahomes now has probably the most managed proper ankle within the NFL, if not additional.
The Kansas Metropolis Chiefs superior to the AFC Championship Sport by defeating the Jacksonville Jaguars 27-20. However subsequent week’s story will probably be about their quarterback’s well being. Mahomes injured his proper ankle early within the sport towards the Jaguars and missed the remainder of the primary half on Saturday afternoon. He returned to the sport – throwing a landing move with just one foot – and completed the day making 22 of 30 passes for 195 and a pair of objectives.
X-rays taken on the break had been unfavorable, however Ian Rapoport with NFL Community introduced Saturday evening that the quarterback suffered a excessive ankle sprain.
Contemplating how Mahomes struggled to remain within the sport and returned to the pitch after the break, it is laborious to think about he will not be there on Sunday. And his head coach appeared to agree after the sport: “He is a troublesome child,” Chiefs head coach Andy Reid stated after the sport. “So he wished to be there. He wished to compete. It is a tribute to him and his competitiveness. Nonetheless, it is advisable to ensure that he’s bodily okay the place he can shield himself. If he cannot, he cannot play and we now have to go to the following man. But it surely’s a tough nut to crack. I am telling you, it is aggressive. He is very, very aggressive.”
However what may Mahomes appear to be after per week?
How the harm affected him and the offense in Kansas Metropolis is a big challenge to trace within the coming days.
So will the query of how the Chiefs will take care of the Cincinnati Bengals. Mahomes and firm have misplaced three straight matches to the Bengals, together with final 12 months’s AFC Championship match.
— Mark Schofield
3. Cincinnati Bengals
Following the Bengals’ 27-10 victory over the Payments, quarterback Joe Burrow was requested in regards to the NFL’s plans to host a possible AFC Championship sport at a impartial venue between the Chiefs and the Payments, and the way the subject motivated him and his workforce to maneuver as much as the division. spherical.
A 3rd-year check taker solely wanted 4 phrases to specific his ideas: “You’d higher ship these phrases.”
After posting a 2-3 document within the first 5 weeks of the season, many believed the Bengals had been headed for some type of post-Tremendous Bowl hangover. However finally, Cincinnati received 10 of their subsequent 11 video games and completed the 12 months 12-4 en path to the AFC North crown.
Now they’re the winners of two playoff video games and are headed for his or her second straight AFC Championship sport as they journey to Kansas Metropolis to tackle the Chiefs in a rematch of final 12 months’s tilt.
Whereas the high-octane offensive has been the Bengalis’ showcase for the final two seasons, do not sleep on defensive coordinator Lou Anarumo and the unbelievable work he is accomplished constructing his unit into a gaggle worthy of complementing an elite group on the opposite aspect of the ball.
— Michael Peterson
4. San Francisco 49ers
Full disclosure: I voted for the 49ers first.
Why? This workforce is ready.
At the beginning of the playoffs, I predicted the playoffs in my head and had the 49ers beat Kansas Metropolis within the Tremendous Bowl. The primary two rounds of the playoffs, San Francisco’s victories over the Seattle Seahawks and the Dallas Cowboys, did not blow my thoughts.
The most important purpose is that rookie Brock Purdy continues to point out he is a profit, not a deterrent, for the 49ers. He is not good, however the child is a superb match for this workforce.
So quarterback shouldn’t be an issue in San Francisco. Mix that with an embarrassing offensive weapon, a robust offensive line, and a well timed, relentless protection, and there is nothing to not like about this workforce’s possibilities of successful the workforce’s sixth Tremendous Bowl in workforce historical past, and the primary in 28 years.
Sure, the NFL Closing 4 is stacked, however do not low cost this workforce.
— Invoice Williamson