FOX Sports Insider
The upheavals are incredible. In many ways, this possibility to drive disruption is the soul of sports. It keeps us guessing, looking and coming back for more.
March Madness just wouldn’t be the same without Cinderella and bracket busting miracles. Talk about miracles, monumental upsets, including a famous one that took place on ice 43 (yes, really) years ago, are the kind of things that get movies made about them.
But something happens when you don’t bother, and it has a different kind of magic. We’re seeing it right now in the NFL postseason, and it’s about to manifest itself at its highest point this weekend.
When there are no upsets, you get blockbusters.
The ongoing postseason has essentially been an upset-free zone. Gypsum dust encases the air. Of the 10 matchups so far, only twice have the seeding sensibilities been offended, and they weren’t bothered at all.
The Minnesota Vikings have never felt like a solid, reliable No. 3 seed, and jaws didn’t drop en masse when they fell to the New York Giants in the wild-card round. Likewise, the AFC’s No. 3 Cincinnati Bengals, riding a nine-game winning streak, didn’t look like a real underdog against the second-seeded Buffalo Bills, and they certainly didn’t play like one in picking up a 27-10 win. in the divisional phase on Sunday.
“There are no upsets, pretty much, leading off,” Hall of Famer Michael Strahan said on FOX this weekend. “(Now), can the great player, in the great game, make the great game?”
That’s really what it’s come down to. With Kansas City, San Francisco, Cincinnati and Philadelphia remaining, this isn’t a team that shows it’s head and shoulders above the rest. Good luck finding it with this bunch of heavyweights.
The Eagles dominated the Giants. How do they stack up against the 49ers?
Emmanuel Acho, LeSean McCoy, Joy Taylor and David Helman discuss the Philadelphia Eagles dominating the New York Giants 38-7. McCoy says the Eagles proved they are the real deal.
The outcome of this postseason will be determined by moments of inspiration. Interjections that change the game. Inspired thought. In games full of elite performers, a split second of something goes beyond that.
Here’s what’s coming this weekend.
On Sunday, the Eagles host the 49ers (3:00 pm ET next Sunday on FOX and the FOX Sports app), facing a team that started the regular season winning eight in a row against an opponent that ended it by winning 10 in a row.
It will match up the top two defenses in the NFC against a wide variety of players and is shaping up to be a contest where no quarter will be asked for or given. The difficulty level? Astronomically high, for both teams.
Philly is a 2.5-point favorite per FOX Bet after their demolition of the Giants last weekend, and according to FS1’s Colin Cowherd, the Eagles have the perfect setup for success behind the accurate arm of Jalen Hurts .
“That’s what happens when you get the QB in the second round and you don’t have to pay him,” Cowherd said, per “The Herd.” “Philadelphia is absolutely stacked. Their wide receiver corps is elite, their corners are the best in football. Their O-line is superb, their D-line is ferocious. There’s nothing they don’t have. I heard pity for the Giants”.
Meanwhile, the 49ers have assembled their towering lineup of electrifying offensive assets and a speedy, talented and versatile defense while rookie QB Brock Purdy has kept a cool head.
This is the best matchup the NFC could have created, the way it was supposed to play out.
The same applies, as far as Buffalo is concerned, on the other side of the bracket. Once the upset meter went completely wrong, a juicy match was assured. We didn’t get the Chiefs vs. the Bills, or a neutral-site matchup, but in Kansas City vs. Cincinnati, there’s a tantalizing rematch of last season’s AFC championship, highlighted by the now-serious question of whether Joe Burrow can lay claim to being the best QB in football.
We haven’t had any regrets and now we don’t have any more left. Whatever the outcome next, it won’t be a shock. Perhaps the only conceivable situation in which you could make a case would be if Patrick Mahomes’ sprained ankle meant he couldn’t get to the starting line and the Chiefs beat the Bengals with Chad Henne under center. For the record, the latest updates suggest that Muhammad will play.
Mahomes-Burrow is as good a QB matchup as we’re going to get. Burrow’s composed demeanor and overall level of security are extraordinary for someone in his third season in the league, the first of which was cut short by injury.
“I think we’re a more complete team,” Burrow told reporters, comparing these Bengals to the team that came so close to winning it all last season. “I think we’re a better team. We seem to make plays when it counts. That’s all there is to it.”
They’re the kind of games where you don’t need the build-up for the anticipation to set in; which was present from the time the games were established. Sunday can’t come soon enough.
We don’t expect to be surprised. No hassle to root. We’re just waiting for two epic matchups, as good as any one could have wished for. Then another, whichever combination prevails, in the Super Bowl.
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