2023 NFL Championship Sunday

Posted: January 29, 2023 in All Things Power Spread

Last year the 5 of the 6 Wild Card Games were somewhat bland & boring, while the rest of the NFL Playoff Season was incredibly close & exciting. This year 5 of the 6 Wild Card Games were incredibly close & exciting, while the Divisional Playoff Weekend was somewhat bland & boring.

Are we headed for more bland & boring games, including the Super Bowl? Will this year be the opposite last year and mirror the College Football Playoffs with the best Semis ever followed by the worst Championship ever?

Or does the 2022 Season have a couple of good games left for the fans to watch?

49ers at Eagles

The chance for a blowout bad game in this one lies with the Eagles. As I said in my Podcast, they are the best team in the NFL right now – win or lose. Do the 49ers have a chance? Absolutely! But their window for victory is a lot more narrow than the Eagles.


I’ve said plenty about the talent on both Teams in previous Podcasts/Posts. There’s a lot. In the trenches, on O & D, at the skill positions, and even at QB, where a rookie 3rd String QB for SanFran has been a godsend.

Here’s a Quick Talent Comparison of each Team. The names you already know…

EAGLES PS O: Eagles Hurts is a Dual Threat QB – Spread Speed outside WRs / Inside RBs – Power OLine.

EAGLES PS D: Edge Speed + Depth – Power 3 DTs Platoon (2Heavyweights/2Middleweights/2Lightweight) – Spread Match Coverage w/ Pro Bowl CBs + Top Slot Safety.

49ERS PS WCO: Purdy is a Point Guard QB (Garoppolo+ / Shanahan on the Field) – Power + Spread Packages w/ different Personnel Groupings – Positionless Football.

49ERS PS D: Edge Speed + Depth – Power SafetiesSpread Match w/ Speedy LBs/NB

O&D, Trenches & Skill – Talent everywhere for both Teams. Big ? is that Rookie QB who’s been incredible for the Niners, but will face the toughest task in his life on Sunday.


Both Cultures & Coaching great this far into the Playoff Season, so let’s look at a Quick Scheme Comparison of each Team:


PS Pro VS WCPST (explained in Podcast Preview)

Pure Power + Spread Pass (Vertical/Horizontal) VS Spread Run + Power Pass (Walsh Horizontal > Deep Shots)

RTO Fakes + Package Plays (short/deep) VS PA/MD QB Rolls + Personnel Sets + Motion

Eagles run a Pure PS style Offense that you see in College w/ a Dual Threat QB. ROs/RPOs/RTOs and fakes off of all this is the name of the game! You can learn more in my Podcast Preview.

The 49ers have a West Coast Offense based attack, but with so much Deception involvong Sets/Motion/PA/MD, the Shanahan Scheme harkens back to the days of Clark Shaughnessy’s Modern T. Paving a new path using old traditions!


Two very similar PS DefensesSPEED: 4 man Rush w/ Coverage Mix + Surprise Pressure Attacks

DT Power + Edge Speed + Back 7 Spread VS Safety Power + Front 7 Speed + Back 7 Spread

The Eagles and 49ers Talent and Depth on D affords their DCs the ability to play somewhat conservative and spring surprise attacks on the Offenses. The ? is which Offense is better equipped to handle the Talent + Surprise Attacks, which Play Caller will have the best Timing of Calls and which Offense will Execute the Scheme/Calls better.

Momentum + Injuries

The Niners have a 12 game win streak. Most games they won easily, but did have a close one with a very average Raiders team and two “closer than it looks” games with Seattle. They also struggled for much of their last game vs Dallas.

The Eagles only stumbles came late in the year due to a sudden rash of Injuries after they avoided the injury bug most of the year.

Right now both Teams are as Healthy as they have been in a while, though the Niners top two RBs are banged up. McCafferey is 100% playing, but is a bit of a concern.

Both Teams are VETERAN LED as the Niners have been in the Championship Game 3 out of the last 4 years and the Eagles still have many players from their Super Bowl Season and their playoff runs in recent years. Even the Kickers on both teams are vets. The only oddball again is the Rookie QB for SanFran.

Prediction – Eagles

Three Storylines:

1 – Will the 49ers DC DeMeco Ryans stay aggressive throughout the ENTIRE Game?

2 – Will Shanahan’s Play Calling or Timing of the Calls burn the Eagles Surprise Attack D?

3- Will Purdy be able to Execute the Play Calls efficiently facing the toughest task of his young career?

For the Eagles it’s simply – Will Hurts stay healthy vs the big hitting, talented Niner D?

The Niners are #1 against the rush, but haven’t faced a dual threat QB or Oline like this. They struggled vs the Falcons Dual Threat QB PS attack earlier in the year without DE Bosa. Bosa is playing in this one, but the Eagles Offense is far superior to the Falcons in both Scheme and Talent.

Ryans must mix Looks, Coverage, Pressure in that order! While the Niners have about the same Talent and Style of the Eagles D, they are facing the first Pure PS Offense in the NFL w/ a more experienced QB than their own.

If Ryans sits back too much in Zone and Man Match w/ a 4 man rush – as he has throughout the season – this could get ugly like last week when the Eagles pulled away from the Giants.

The Niners speedy Defense will over-try if the scheme isn’t aggressive. Hurts and the Eagles Run/Pass/Option Game will kill the Niners if they are over pursuing and racing out of their assignments. This happens when the Scheme isn’t aggressive enough.

Good players take it on themselves and blow their assignments in conservative schemes vs top offenses. As the Pressure mounts, Execution falls away.

The Eagles Speedy Defense can get over-aggressive as well. This is where Shanahan’s Play Calling comes in. If his Timing is on – this D can be burned for big plays!

And that’s where the Execution by Purdy comes in. He has mobility but can’t use his legs the way Hurts can, which is a big disadvantage. He’s a Distributor, but he will be Pressed by the Coverage Mix & Pressured by the Speed and Surprise Attacks of the Eagles.


The 49ers HAVE to put pressure on the Eagles Offense with their own Offense. Unlike the Giants early on in the Game, the Niners have to finish Drives. Make the right calls, execute and put points on the board. Put the pressure on the Eagles O to score.

If the Niners stay with the Eagles, then Ryans can feel more aggressive with HIS calls and the Players can let it fly without over-trying! Then we have a game! A game the Niners can definitely win!

If none of the above happens – this could be a long day for the Niners and another blowout playoff game.

I have to stick with the Eagles as their window for victory is simply too large to go against.

Bengals at Chiefs

This is more of a tossup than the NFC game. In fact, this truly feels unpredictable.

Can the Bengals beat the Chiefs 4 times in a row in KC again with a beat up OLine?

How bad is Mahomes Ankle? He needs his mobility. What about Kelce – back spasms – how much will he be effected – if at all? Is WRs Hardman and Thomas playing?

It will be a cold night, but will the wind have an effect on the deep shots? How about KC’s young DBackfield? Can they handle Chase & Co. in such a big stakes game??

Which K will come thru if needed? Butker seems healthy again. McPherson has shown some chinks in his massive 2021 armor this year…??


CHIEFS young talent infusion improved all year.

Offense – Pacheco / McKinnon – SkyMoore/Watson/MVS/Toney – Mahomes/Oline strong all year!

Defense – Karlaftis / Injuries+Suspensions / Rookie DBs!

BENGALS also had some changes and improved as the year went along.

Offense – BURROW+GAMEPLAN: QUICK GAME / RB+WR Injs / New Oline + TE

Defense – Reader Inj / Rookie DBs Britt + Hill (D Strong All Year)


Both teams have strong Culture, Coaching + Experience. Usually that’s the case in Championship Games. Now it’s about SCHEME.

OFFENSE: Reid FULL PS PRO vs Taylor PS Gillman+

Chiefs integrate the loss of Hill. Bengals improvement of Burrow and his Oline.

DEFENSE: These two Defenses are very Similar – Spags & Anarumo!

  1. Freedom from Offensive HCs to incorporate their Defensive Philosophies.
  2. Former DB Coaches who used a 4-3 Scheme with Coverage Mix & little mix Pressure or Looks.
  3. They view their Assistants as Schematic Assets!
    • SPAGS – DLine Coach Cullen (Ravens Psycho), LB Coach Daly (Belichick,Frazier,Fisher)
    • Anarumo – BETTCHER! Bowles style of Aggressive Pressure/Coverage Mix!
      • Anarumo learned from Bettcher when he was with the Giants.

Both DCs have the green light from their HCs to be aggressive and they usually are. They both need to be today!

Momentum + Injuries

Both had strong ends to the Season. The Chiefs have won 11 of 12 only losing to these same Bengals. The Bengals have won 10 in a row.

Last 2 Games Played:

  1. Last year’s Championship Game should be thrown out!
    • Chiefs a huge letdown crash in 2nd Half after Game of the Century the week before with the Bills.
    • The 8Coverage D by Anarumo was a desperate move vs a Chiefs team moving the ball at will in 1st Half.
      • If not for a Letdown, Mahomes would have matriculated the ball downfield for 3 more scores.
      • Anarumo never uses that Scheme on a regular basis. It was desperation!
  2. Regular Season Game in the middle of each team’s win streak in 2nd Half of the season.
    • Bengals were more on a roll at that point. The Chiefs still getting some players back and improving.
      • Still a decent amount of Mistakes on Both Sides
        • Bengals should have been up by a bigger score late.
        • Chiefs Kelce had ball ripped out by Pratt as Chiefs driving for winning TD!
    • Chiefs young DBackfield was better at this point but missing CB Thomas. It’s even better now.
    • Spags had a nice aggressive mix on D, but Bengals had great Play Calling + Execution at that point.
      • Anarumo/Bettcher also mixed a lot on D – Agg in both Coverage + Pressure

The Last 3 Bengals/Chiefs games have been decided by 3 points – all won by the Bengals! Both teams continued to get stronger after that game, but now are dealing with major Injury issues on Offense.

INJURIES: WRs Hardman/Watson may play — KELCE has back spasms at the end of the week!? How is MAHOMES Ankle? The Bengals OLine is still missing 3 Starters.

Prediction – Bengals

No Snow! Cold with some Wind

  1. Could be a factor in the Vertical Deep Shots both teams like to take.
    • Both Teams can matriculate the ball downfield in wind with Power Runs + Spread Pass Game (Chiefs WCO / Bengals QG)

Mahomes Ankle / Kelce Back

  1. Could be an issue if the wind is a factor. When the vertical pass game is effected, a dual-threat presence is huge!
  2. The Ankle may hurt his scrambling ability.
  3. If Kelce is struggling then his outlet under pressure is gone.
  4. Chiefs may have to rely more on their underrated Power Run game!

Bengals Oline and Run D is still in question.

  1. Throw out last week’s Bills Game.
    • For whatever reason the Bills had no footing in the snow! (It’s not an excuse – the film doesn’t lie!)
    • Whether it was a Letdown and/or an Operations Issue, where they weren’t prepared for the snow (??), that was easily the Bills worse game of the year.
  2. The real game to look at is the Ravens WC Game
    • LT Carman struggles in Pass Pro as does RG Scharping. Scharping stronger in the run game.
    • RT Adeniji has played well and is hardly a drop off from the Starting RT Collins.
    • Ravens ran all over the Bengals, which set up successful deep shots!
      • Bengals LBs are quicker types better in pass game.
      • If Bengals don’t go heavy in the box or Run Blitz, they can struggle vs Run.
  3. Bengals Quick Game + Run Game can overcome the Oline Issues, but not if Spags gets aggressive!
    • Bengals Oline stronger in Run Game, but if D is heavy in the Box it won’t work.
    • Deep shots if Spags is aggressive, but wind may have an effect!


Possibly depending on Wind, Injs & the Aggression of the DSchemes.

Both Ks are strong as Butker is back in form and McPherson looked good last week though he missed an xtra pt the week before. Bengals Kick Coverage is better – Chiefs Return game better.


  1. Still worried about the Chiefs young DBs vs Chase & Co.
  2. Mahomes needs his mobility – just not sure..
    • They had no business beating the Ravens – but I could see they would.
      • Out schemed & out played for much of the game.
      • But had a great attitude and confidence from start to finish!

IF Mahomes is struggling with the Ankle or there’s more injury issues, the Bengals may blow out the Chiefs late.

IF Mahomes Ankle is a non-factor and Kelce plays strong, then the Chiefs SHOULD be the 1pt favorite!


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