PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — A trip to Super Bowl LVII is on the line this Sunday.
The Eagles will host the San Francisco 49ers, who are the No. 2 seed in the conference after handling the Seattle Seahawks 41-23 and edging the Dallas Cowboys 19-12.
Here are five things you need to know ahead of Sunday’s 3 p.m. matchup at Lincoln Financial Field.
1. Hurts and Purdy meet again
Eagles quarterback Jalen Hurts will face rookie Brock Purdy, who was initially this season’s third-string quarterback for the 49ers.
Hurts, who played his final year of college football at Oklahoma, and Purdy, who played for Iowa State, dueled it out during a Big 12 matchup in 2019. The Sooners beat the Cyclones 42-41 in a near comeback for Iowa State. Both quarterbacks lit up the box score.
Sunday’s rematch between these two young quarterbacks will be for much higher stakes, with the NFC title up for grabs.
2. 49ers are regulars in NFC Championship Game
This is the Eagles’ first NFC Championship Game since the 2017-18 season. After a dreadful 4-11-1 in 2020, they have turned it around quickly — and with a completely different head coach and a starting quarterback who proved this season he should be the starter for years to come.
The 49ers, who lost Super Bowl LIV to the Kansas City Chiefs, will be playing in this game for the third time in four seasons. They advanced in 2019-20 but lost to the Rams last year.
Overall, this will be the 49ers’ 18th appearance in the NFC Championship Game and sixth since 2011. This is the eighth time the Eagles will have a chance to play for a spot in the Super Bowl.
3. Will the red-hot 49ers cool off at the Linc?
The 49ers began this season 3-4. Their fourth loss happened Oct. 23 at home against the Chiefs. They haven’t lost since, winning 12 in a row, which included a 13-4 regular-season record.
That’s only one game worse than the 14-3 Eagles.
For what it’s worth, that loss to the Chiefs was the 49ers’ only at home this season. Three of their four losses were on the road.
4. Eagles haven’t historically fared well against 49ers
According to The Football Database, the Eagles are 14-20-1 against the 49ers dating back to 1951.
That includes one postseason game on Dec. 29, 1996, when Ray Rhodes’ Eagles lost to Jerry Rice, Steve Young and the 49ers 14-0 in San Francisco in the wild card round. It is the only time in franchise history the Eagles have been shutout in a postseason game.
The last time the Eagles faced the 49ers was last season’s home opener — Nick Sirianni’s homedebut. San Francisco won 17-11.
The Eagles are lightyears better this time around.
The teams have split six meetings at the Linc since 2003, when the stadium opened, and the Eagles are 5-11-1 against San Francisco in Philadelphia dating back to 1951.
5. These teams are evenly matched
In terms of points per game, points allowed per game, passing yards per game, and rushing yards per game in the regular season, these teams are very close.
Although both defenses are excellent, they differ in two specific stats. In the regular season, the Eagles — led by defensive coordinator Jonthan Gannon — were first in passing yards allowed per game with 179.8. The 49ers — led by defensive coordinator, and former Eagle, DeMeco Ryans — were 20th with 222.9.
As far as rushing yards allowed per game, the Eagles overall allowed an average of 121.6, coming in at 16th. The 49ers were second, giving up only 77.7 rushing yards per game.
This may be one of those games where prioritizing running the ball on offense isn’t the best idea, and establishing a strong game in the air is critical.
It should be a fun one.