Eagles vs 49ers how to watch: time, TV channel, streaming, key matches for the 2023 NFC Championship Game

Eagles vs 49ers how to watch: time, TV channel, streaming, key matches for the 2023 NFC Championship Game

Let’s not waste time with a long preamble. It’s championship Sunday in the NFL. In the NFC Championship, the No. 1 seed and NFC champion East Philadelphia Eagles will host the No. 2 seed and NFC champion West San Francisco 49ers.

They’re the top two teams in the conference for the vast majority of the season, and they’ll be vying for the right to represent the NFC in the Super Bowl. Before we break down the game, here’s an overview of how you can watch the game.

How to watch

Date: Sunday January 29 | Time: 3 p.m. ET
Location: Lincoln Financial Field (Philadelphia)
TV: Fox | Flux: fuboTV (try for free)
Odds: Eagles -2.5, O/U 46 (Courtesy of Caesars Sportsbook)

Featured Game | Philadelphia Eagles vs. San Francisco 49ers

When the 49ers have the ball

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Let’s start by talking about Brock Purdy, because how he handles Philadelphia’s pass rush could be the tipping point of this game.

Heading into last week’s game against the Cowboys, Purdy had slipped back to pass 177 times since replacing Jimmy Garoppolo in Week 13. He had completed 110 of 161 passes (68.3%) for 1,308 yards ( 8.12 per attempt), 13 touchdowns and just three interceptions. He was sacked 11 times and was pressured at an almost exactly league average rate (32.8% vs. 32.6%). The Dallas Rush was able to tackle Purdy a little more consistently last week (48.5% pressure rating, according to Tru Media), and although Purdy was only sacked twice and did not was picked (although he had a potential interception dropped), his efficiency took a hit (7.38 yards per attempt).

During the regular season, the Cowboys were the best team in the league to get pressure (43.3% opposing drops), but the Eagles were right behind them in second place (38.4%). And the Eagles were a bit better at converting pressure into sacks: 11.2% of Philly’s pressures resulted in quarterback strikeouts (first in the NFL), compared to 8.9% of Dallas’ pressures (second). This difference could be incredibly significant in this game.

The Eagles can throw even more bodies on their pass rush than the Cowboys. Jonathan Gannon will go through Haason Reddick, Josh Sweat, Brandon Graham and Robert Quinn on the edge, while bringing (mostly) Fletcher Cox and Javon Hargrave to the middle. San Francisco has an elite left tackle in Trent Williams on the left side of the line, but Mike McGlinchey can be vulnerable on the right, and guards Aaron Banks and Spencer Burford are better at run blocking than pass protection .

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Of course, Kyle Shanahan may be the league’s premier offensive schemer right now, and he’ll no doubt create advantages for Purdy. Shanahan has plenty of tools at his disposal to create wide throwing lanes: Only 9.4% of Purdy’s passes have been thrown in a narrow window this season, according to NFL.com’s Next Gen Stats, good for second rate the lowest in the NFL. These wide lanes often give Deebo Samuel, Brandon Aiyuk, George Kittle and Christian McCaffrey a ton of room to run with the ball, which is why Purdy ranks third in the NFL behind only Garoppolo and Patrick Mahomes in yards after catch by completion. (6.45).

Shanahan plans to move Samuel and Aiyuk around the lineup so they don’t routinely submit them to Darius Slay or James Bradberry on the outside, but the expected return of Eagles corner Avonte Maddox waters down that strategy a bit. Philadelphia ranked 27th in success rate against pitches to the slot machine when Maddox was off the court this season, according to Tru Media, and first when Maddox was on the court. His return to the fold should make a big difference.

We know San Francisco’s offense is designed to attack midfield, and it’s likely that Shanahan, Purdy and Co. will try to take advantage of Philadelphia’s linebackers. (Kittle should be heavily featured here.) Much of that midfield passing game is based on play-action attack, though, and Philly was first in the EPA by backing off the opponent. against play-action passes this season. Opponents completed just 59.7% of their passes at an average of 6.56 yards per attempt, while throwing six touchdowns against five interceptions. The 49ers’ in-action passing offense is vastly different from a standard league-wide offense, but there’s reason to believe Philly is better equipped than most opponents to deal with it.

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Due to all of these factors, it’s likely that the Niners will try to fight this battle in the running game. Philadelphia has been much better against the pass (first in the Football Outsiders DVOA) than against the run (21st) this season, although the Eagles have been better in that department when they were able to use at least one from Jordan Davis and / or Linval Joseph. San Francisco’s rushing attack tests teams with both diversity and misdirection. It’s not just outside zone after outside zone after outside zone anymore. The 49ers will now execute all kinds of schemes and give the ball to a different group of players. They will force opponents to declare their intentions based on where Samuel or McCaffrey or Aiyuk or Kyle Juszczyk lines up and then use those intentions against them.

Philadelphia’s defense doesn’t have as much speed as the Dallas unit San Francisco faced last week (there are very few players faster than Micah Parsons, after all), so the Eagles could be a bit more vulnerable to perimeter runs they didn’t see much success in the divisional round. The Niners will use any of McCaffrey, Samuel or Elijah Mitchell (if he plays) on those runs, and they can each hurt the defense in different ways.

When the Eagles have the ball

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The best thing about Philadelphia’s offense this season is that it has shown a remarkable ability to shapeshift to attack an opponent’s specific weaknesses. Bad against the race? The Eagles will be pounding the rock all day, as they did rushing for over 250 yards in two different games against the Giants, and an absurd 363 yards against the Packers. Weak in the face of the pass? They’ll light you up in the air, like when they had just 19 rush attempts to Jalen Hurts’ 39 passes against the Titans, and he torched them for 380 yards and three scores.

The 49ers defense is great at just about everything. The Niners finished the regular season second in DVOA rushing defense and fifth against passing. They were first in EPA by dropback AND first in EPA by rush attempt. They generated pressure and sacks at an above-average rate, and they ranked third in the league in yards allowed before contact by rush and first in yards after contact. They rarely allowed explosive passes or runs, and they were arguably the best tackling team in the NFL. They are incredibly well trained and they have some absolute monsters that can destroy any opponent’s game plan in Nick Bosa, Arik Armstead, Fred Warner and Dre Greenlaw.

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So where are the Eagles to attack? For me, it’s at the bottom of the field. The 49ers were first in DVOA against short passes, but only 24th against deep passes. The match between AJ Brown and DeVonta Smith, and Charvarius Ward and Deommodore Lenoir is the most important on this side of the game. Throwing at least 20 yards in the field, Hurts was 22 of 55 for 823 yards, 11 touchdowns and four interceptions during the regular season. Only two corners have completed more passes on those throws this season than Lenoir, who had seven completions on 13 attempts, for 231 yards and a touchdown.

The problem with offense this way is that the 49ers design their defense to knock those throws out of the playbook. -2 and Cover-4 during the regular season. They will sometimes have their corners lined up pressed on the line of scrimmage, but covering a deep quarter of the field. They don’t want teams to throw deep, and for the most part, teams don’t throw deep. Just 9.8% of opposing pass attempts traveled at least 20 yards through the air, the 10th-lowest rate in the league. When the openings are there, however, opponents have been able to take advantage of them on occasion.

One of the Eagles’ biggest breakthroughs as a striker this year has been their ability to attack midfield. Hurts rarely threw there last season, but the addition of AJ Brown and the release of Dallas Goedert mean they’ve been working there more often this season. But no one is better than the Niners at taking out midfield, because no one else has Warner and Greenlaw. This means the way to attack is outside. Again, that means going to Lenoir and (to a lesser extent) Ward with passes on the field.

However, perhaps the first game of their entire weekend is the one that pits arguably the NFL’s best offensive line against its best defensive line. Nick Bosa, Samson Ebukam, Charles Omenihu and Jordan Willis against Jordan Mailata and Lane Johnson. Arik Armstead, Javon Kinlaw, Kevin Givens and TY McGill against Landon Dickerson, Jason Kelce and Isaac Seumalo. Philadelphia takes out its tackles on an island more often than any NFL team, which means there will be opportunities for Bosa to turn the corner and get to Hurts…if he can catch him, of course.

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