The NFL’s final four is official and the Philadelphia Eagles are still standing.
After coming out of the divisional round victorious over the New York Giants, the Birds will now face the San Francisco 49ers. In the opposite conference are the Kansas City Chiefs and Cincinnati Bengals. With less than a week remaining to check tapes, re-group, and practice drills, all four teams will fight next Sunday for a chance to play in Super Bowl LVII.
But, it comes down to the age old question — will the (statistically) better team win? And more importantly, how does Philadelphia compare?
NFL CONFERENCE CHAMPIONSHIP TOP-FOUR
The four remaining teams finished the 2022 season within the league’s top-five. With at least 14 wins (pre- and post-season) under their belt, each has their own strengths that will play towards their potential domination.
In the quarterback position are three MVP candidates, and rookie Brock Purdy.
|Jalen Hurts||Brock Purdy||Patrick Mahomes||Joe Burrow|
Playing in only nine games, Purdy has the best passer rating out of the four which shows that despite his inexperience, he’s connecting well with his team.
Looking at numbers alone, Mahomes looks like the better quarterback. Averaging 308.8 yards per game, he’s getting the ball in the hands of his offense, but also in the hands of the opposite team — twice as much as Hurts. Hurts is averaging 297.4 total yards per game, and unlike the other quarterbacks, he leads on his feet, essentially giving the offense an additional playmaker.
Ranked similarly are Philadelphia and Kansas City’s offenses. They’re separated by 19 total points scored, including two touchdowns, and the only real difference here is that the Eagles didn’t have their starting quarterback for two of their games.
|Philadelphia Eagles Offense||San Francisco 49ers Offense||Kansas City Chiefs Offense||Cincinnati Bengals Offense|
|Total Yards Completed||6,614||6,216||7,032||5,768|
If we take the most productive players on each team and compare them, the Eagles and Chiefs still remain in a head-to-head competition.
- Eagles: A.J. Brown (WR) — 1,496 yards
- 49ers: Brandon Aiyuk (WR) — 1,015 yards
- Chiefs: Travis Kelce (TE) — 1,338 yards
- Bengals: Ja’Marr Chase (WR) — 1,046 yards
But again, things aren’t always how they seem. In addition to Brown, Philadelphia also has Miles Sanders (1,269) and DeVonta Smith (1,196), giving the Birds three playmakers who have all finished with a more contributive season. Alternatively, Kelce is the sole 1,000+ yard player for the Chiefs, making the target on his back that much larger for the Bengals’ defense.
And, if you still thought the Chiefs were the best team, think again when it comes to their defense. The Chiefs have struggled the most out of the remaining four teams, allowing their opponents the most yards, touchdowns, and total points. Ranked last among the teams fighting for the Super Bowl, they will play the No. 3 ranked Bengals, as the Eagles (No. 2) play the 49ers (No. 1).
|Philadelphia Eagles Defense||San Francisco 49ers Defense||Kansas City Chiefs Defense||Cincinatti Bengals Defense|
|Total Touchdowns Allowed||40||33||43||32|
The biggest distinction here are sacks. The Eagles became the fourth team in league history to record 70 sacks in a (regular) season, and the difference between them and the No. 1 ranked defense in the league is 26. The top-four sack producers on the Eagles alone made a combined 49 sacks — five more than San Fran’s season total.
THE ROAD FROM UNDERDOG TO TOPDOG
Philadelphia has been the City of the Underdog, and it certainly still seems that way coming out of critic’s mouths around the league. But, the numbers speak for themselves. In the last two decades, the Eagles have the most NFC Championship appearances, making 2023 their seventh matchup.
With an MVP candidate quarterback, the No. 3 offense, and the No. 2 defense in the league, the Eagles undoubtedly deserve the position they are in this season.
“It’s a special special type of togetherness that we have,” Jalen Hurts stated this week. “I haven’t quite experienced something like this. We wanna continue to grow together. Hold each other accountable. Believe in each other.”
The road to the Super Bowl continues at 3:05 PM when the Eagles host the San Francisco 49ers on Sunday, January 29. The Bengals will then host the Kansas City Chiefs at 6:30 PM.