SANTA CLARA, Calif. —
There figures to be high drama Sunday when San Francisco plays at Philadelphia in the NFC Championship Game.
But will it match the pyrotechnics of the first NFL meeting between 49ers quarterback Brock Purdy and Eagles quarterback Jalen Hurts?
The two faced each other in 2019 when Purdy was at Iowa State and Hurts at Oklahoma. The Sooners won 42-41 and the quarterbacks accounted for 11 touchdowns.
Hurts threw for three and ran for two. Purdy threw for five and ran for one.
The top-seeded Eagles, who obliterated the New York Giants on Saturday, opened as 2½-point favorites over the 49ers. The teams have not faced each other this season.
The AFC title game is a rematch of last year’s version, with Cincinnati playing at Kansas City.
San Francisco has reached the NFC title game in three of the last four seasons but hasn’t won a Super Bowl since the 1994 season.
The 49ers lost at the Rams in last year’s conference championship game.
“It’s a different year, different team, different season,” San Francisco defensive lineman Arik Armstead said. “We went through different things this year. Last year we got hot at the end. We were on the road for the whole playoffs, so it was a little different feel.
“This year we did a great job during the regular season and got home for the fans. We’ve been here, and now we’ve got to go on the road for Philly. We’re definitely looking forward to that.”
In their 38-7 win over the Giants, the Eagles tied their largest margin of victory in a playoff game and rushed for 268 yards, their second most in a postseason game. Philadelphia also set a franchise record with five sacks in a playoff game.
The 49ers have won all seven games that Purdy has started, two of those in the postseason.
Asked if he’s at all concerned about his team heading into a hostile environment in Philadelphia, 49ers receiver Deebo Samuel said: “Nah, not really. We don’t feed too much into the noise. We just go out there, play by play, and let pads do all the talking.”
Sure to dominate the headlines this week will be the condition of Patrick Mahomes’ ankle. The Kansas City quarterback suffered a high-ankle sprain in Saturday’s victory over Jacksonville, left the game for a stretch, and completed it by essentially hopping around on one foot.
Meanwhile, the Chiefs face a tough challenge against the defending AFC champion Bengals. Cincinnati beat Kansas City three times in the 2022 calendar year — in the penultimate game of the 2021 season, the AFC Championship Game, and in Week 13 this season.
The Bengals advanced to the title game with a 27-10 win at snowy Buffalo, despite a cobbled-together Cincinnati offensive line.
Had the Bills won, the AFC championship would have been played on a neutral field in Atlanta, and the NFL announced this week that it already had sold 50,000 tickets to that potential matchup.
“Better send those refunds,” Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow said after Sunday’s victory.
The Bengals advanced to back-to-back championships for the first time.
According to ESPN, the Bengals-Chiefs matchup represents the seventh instance of two teams meeting for the conference title in consecutive seasons, and the first since Baltimore-New England in 2011-12.
“It’s going to be a fun one,” said Burrow, whose team hasn’t lost since falling to Cleveland on Halloween. “Two of the top guys in the league, two of the top teams in the league, great defenses, great overall teams, great coaches.”