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Eagles-49ers NFC championship: How the teams match up

Eagles slight betting favorite in NFC championship game
Eagles slight betting favorite in NFC championship game 01:48

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) -- The NFC championship between the Eagles and San Francisco 49ers on Sunday will be like a heavyweight boxing match. 

Remember The Rumble in the Jungle between George Foreman and Muhammad Ali? 

Well, get ready for the Rumble in the South Philly sports complex with a trip to the Super Bowl on the line. 

When the Niners and Eagles kick off at 3 p.m. on Sunday at Lincoln Financial Field, there won't be a shortage of talented players on the field. 

"That's what the NFC championship game should be," Eagles head coach Nick Sirianni said in a news conference earlier this week. "It's going to be good-on-good, and it's going to be tight."

Here's a look at how the teams stack up against each other: 

When the Eagles have the ball

The Eagles are one of the best offenses in the NFL, but Sunday's matchup against the Niners' defense will be their biggest test yet. 

San Fran defensive coordinator DeMeco Ryans, a former Eagle, has his squad ranked No. 1 in several defensive categories. 

The 49ers are ranked No. 1 in yards allowed per game, points allowed per game and defensive DVOA, according to Their defense is also ranked No. 2 in rushing yards allowed per game at 77.7, less than one yard behind the No. 1 ranked Tennessee Titans. 

San Francisco's defense also boasts three first-team All-Pros in defensive end Nick Bosa, linebacker Fred Warner and safety Talanoa Hufanga.

In their divisional round win over the Dallas Cowboys, the 49ers limited them to 3.5 yards per carry. 

The running game has been the Eagles' bread-and-butter all season. Their rushing attack, led by running back Miles Sanders and quarterback Jalen Hurts, ranked fifth in the NFL in yards per game and first in rushing DVOA.

The 49ers haven't played a mobile quarterback like Hurts all season. They played Justin Fields of the Chicago Bears in Week 1, but that was before the team revamped their offense. 

The Niners will most likely put a spy on Hurts to account for his ability to scramble, and they have the players to do it with Warner and fellow linebackers Dre Greenlaw and Azeez Al-Shaair.

The matchup between the Eagles' running game and Niners' rushing defense will be one of the many pivotal matchups in the title game. 

Another matchup to watch is the Eagles' plan to attack San Fran's secondary. As we all know, the Eagles aren't afraid to take shots and throw the ball down the field. 

If Hurts has an opportunity to connect with wideouts A.J. Brown and DeVonta Smith for big gains, those throws could make-or-break the Eagles' chances to make the Super Bowl in a game where the margins of failure are thin. 

Dallas Cowboys v Philadelphia Eagles
PHILADELPHIA, PA - OCTOBER 16: DeVonta Smith #6 and A.J. Brown #11 of the Philadelphia Eagles look on against the Dallas Cowboys at Lincoln Financial Field on October 16, 2022 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. / Getty Images

Brown and Smith will be matched up with Niners cornerbacks Chavarius Ward and Deommodore Lenoir. 

Dallas Goedert, who had a big game vs. the Giants in the divisional round, will be operating in the middle of the field against one of the better defenses in the league against tight ends.

When Hurts is back to pass, the matchup between the Eagles' offensive line and Niners' pass rush will be key. 

Tackles Lane Johnson and Jordan Mailata will be matched up against Bosa, who led the NFL with 18.5 sacks and is likely to win the Defensive Player of the Year award. 

Johnson, center Jason Kelce and company will also have to account for Arik Armstead, Samson Ebukam, Javon Kinlaw and others on San Fran's defensive line. 

When the Niners have the ball

Last week, the Eagles played a Giants offense led by Saquon Barkley. But outside of the Penn State product, New York didn't have any other imposing weapons. 

It'll be a different story this week against the Niners. They basically have a Barkley equivalent at every skill position. 

Christian McCaffrey headlines the running back room for San Fran. He'll be the biggest weapon the Eagles' defense will need to account for in Sunday's game. The Eagles also shouldn't rule out backup tailback Elijah Mitchell from making an impact on the game.

McCaffrey, who combined for nearly 1,900 rushing and receiving yards, is a mismatch nightmare that could exploit Eagles linebackers T.J. Edwards and Kyzir White in the passing game. 

But the problem for the Eagles is McCaffrey isn't the only versatile weapon on their offense. 

Wideouts Deebo Samuel and Brandon Aiyuk and tight end George Kittle can line up pretty much anywhere. It will be a big game for safeties C.J. Gardner-Johnson, Marcus Epps and Reed Blankenship as the Niners do most of their work over the middle of the field. 

It looks like starting slot cornerback Avonte Maddox won't be healthy in time for Sunday, so Gardner-Johnson will most likely fill the role. 

Samuel and Aiyuk can both be used in the run game. 

The Eagles, who rank 21st in rush DVOA, have been up and down against the run this season. Sunday's matchup against Kyle Shanahan's offense will be the litmus test. 

Fletcher Cox, Javon Hargrave, Linval Joseph and Jordan Davis will have their hands full in stopping the Niners' ground game. 

At quarterback, rookie Brock Purdy, the team's third-stringer and Mr. Irrelevant, is undefeated as a starter. He's 7-0 since he started filling in for veteran Jimmy Garoppolo, who broke his foot in December. 

Haason Reddick #7 of the Philadelphia Eagles pressures Daniel Jones #8 of the New York Giants during the second quarter in the NFC Divisional Playoff game at Lincoln Financial Field on January 21, 2023 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
PHILADELPHIA, PENNSYLVANIA - JANUARY 21: Haason Reddick #7 of the Philadelphia Eagles pressures Daniel Jones #8 of the New York Giants during the second quarter in the NFC Divisional Playoff game at Lincoln Financial Field on January 21, 2023 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Tim Nwachukwu/Getty Images

But, playing in Philadelphia, let alone a raucous NFC title atmosphere, will be no easy feat. 

Purdy completed 19 of his 29 passes for 214 yards in the divisional round, but Dallas was able to pressure him and make the game difficult. 

The Eagles' pass rush has been one of the best in the league all season. They ranked first in the league with 70 sacks and picked up right where they left off against the Giants last week, sacking Daniel Jones five times. 

Haason Reddick, Josh Sweat, Brandon Graham and Hargrave have the ability to cause havoc and could sway the game in the Eagles' favor.  

Reddick, Sweat and Graham's matchups against Niners first-team All-Pro left tackle Trent Williams and Penn Charter product Mike McGlinchey will be pivotal. 

Graham had the biggest defensive play in Eagles postseason history in Super Bowl LII against Tom Brady and the New England Patriots in 2018.  

Maybe he's got another all-time franchise playoff moment in him Sunday.

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