A hot start to playoff game selection quickly cooled off over the weekend. It wasn’t a bad weekend, but it wasn’t a good one either.
I went 2-2 straight up, 2-2 against the spread in our CBSSports.com expert picks and 2-3 with my best bets on the Pick Six podcast.
This is not what I expected. I chose the New York Giants to defend against the Philadelphia Eagles, which was a terrible choice. I also picked the Dallas Cowboys to defend against the San Francisco 49ers, a game I thought Dallas would win, and it looked like a push until the Photoniners hit a late field goal. Well. I got a late goal from Jacksonville’s game against the Chiefs as a gift to get that cover.
Everything is leveling out. But after a 4-2 ATS week at Super Wild Card Weekend, I’m now 6-4 in the postseason. Last week I took all the dogs. Not this week.
So let’s hope for a championship win to secure a postseason winning record.
San Francisco 49ers – Philadelphia Eagles.
Sunday 3:00 pm ET (Fox, FuboTV)
This is a game between two physically developed teams that have good running game and good defense. This means that everything will be decided in advance, no matter how many attacking playmakers are on the field.
The Eagles impressed last week by crushing the Giants while the 49ers won at home against Dallas. San Francisco’s offense was not easy that game, but Brock Purdy found success after a slow start, scoring his seventh straight win as a starter. It’s a bigger challenge though because it’s against the best team on the road, his first away playoff. Not only that, he faced a defense that led the NFL in sacks with 70 sacks, two of which are non-record sacks. They also come from all points, with four players having 10 or more bags. Look for the Eagles to attack the right side of the 49ers offensive line, the weaker side.
The Eagles offense was another big day against the Giants, which is the backbone of their offense. Jalen Hurts can drop him, but they should be able to launch him here. That’s why their highest ranked offensive line is key. They need to get a boost in the running game and keep Nick Boza and the gang from the Hurts when they really throw. 49ers linebackers can run and cover, which is a must against an Eagles offense. Fred Warner and Dre Greenlaw are special. They should be in it.
But I’m counting on Hurts to beat Purdy and take the Eagles to the Super Bowl. The Eagles offensive line and pass rush will decide this game.
Choose: Eagles 30, 49ers 21
Cincinnati Bengals – Kansas City Chiefs
Sunday 6:30 pm ET (CBS, Paramount+)
The big issue here is the health of Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes. Will he be able to move after spraining his ankle last week against Jacksonville? If not, what does that mean for the Chiefs’ offense, since he does so much damage off schedule and out of pocket?
The Kansas City offense came in handy when he returned to Jacksonville from injury, but he definitely looked limited in terms of mobility. This will make a difference against a Bengals defense that has so many moving parts and can attack from all directions. They’ve done a great job against him late in the last three games. The Jaguars didn’t go after Mahomes enough after he injured his ankle, but you can bet the Bengals will, although that’s not the strategy they used to beat him in the title game last year. They chased Josh Allen a lot last week in their upset win.
In that game, Joe Burrow and the offense successfully moved the ball. The offensive line, which was three players behind in the starting lineup, played well as the Bengals managed it with Joe Mixon and Burrow landed some big shots in the passing game. Mixon hasn’t played regular matches between these teams this season, but he’ll be successful this season. The Chiefs can chase the quarterback by registering 55 sacks this season, which will improve the Bengals’ possession and defense, who can bring back some of those offensive linemen.
The Bengals have beaten the Chiefs three times in a row, including in the AFC Championship game last January and in the regular season game this season. Barrow seems to enjoy the important moments. I expect him to play well here while Mahomes’ limited mobility will play a role. That’s important, and that’s why the Bengals will go to their second Super Bowl in a row.
Choose: Bengals 27, Chiefs 24