Prisco’s 2023 NFL conference championship picks: Joe Burrow leads Bengals back to Super Bowl, Eagles join them

The hot start to picking playoff games cooled off quickly last weekend. It wasn’t a bad weekend, but it wasn’t good either.

I went 2-2 straight up, 2-2 against the spread in our CBSSports.com expert picks and 2-3 with my best bets as part of the Pick Six Podcast.

That isn’t what I expected. I picked the New York Giants to cover against the Philadelphia Eagles, which was a horrible pick. I also picked the Dallas Cowboys to cover against the San Francisco 49ers, a game where I thought Dallas would win, and that looked to be a push until a late field goal by the 49ers. Oh, well. I got the gift of the late field goal by Jacksonville against the Chiefs to get that cover.

It all evens out. But after the 4-2 ATS week on Super Wild Card Weekend, I am now 6-4 for the postseason. Last week, I took all the ‘dogs. Not this week.

So let’s hope for a championship game sweep to ensure a winning record in the postseason.

San Francisco 49ers at Philadelphia Eagles

Sunday, 3 p.m. ET (Fox, FuboTV)

Featured Game | Philadelphia Eagles vs. San Francisco 49ers

This is a game between two physical teams that have good run games and good defensive fronts. That means it’s going to be decided up front, no matter how many offensive playmakers are on the field.

The Eagles impressed last week in blowing out the Giants, while the 49ers won a close one at home against Dallas. The San Francisco offense struggled some in that game, but Brock Purdy got it going after a slow start to win his seventh straight as a starter. This, though, is a bigger challenge because it’s against a better team on the road, his first road playoff start. Not only that, he’s facing a defense that led the NFL in sacks with 70, two off the record. They come from all spots too, with four players who had 10 or more sacks. Look for the Eagles to attack the right side of the 49ers offensive line, the weaker side.

The Eagles offense had another big rushing day against the Giants, which is the basis of their offense. Jalen Hurts can throw it, but they have to be able to run it here. That’s why their top-rated offensive line is key. They have to get push in the run game and keep Nick Bosa and gang off Hurts when they do throw. The 49ers linebackers can run and cover, which is a must against the Eagles offense. Fred Warner and Dre Greenlaw are special. They will have to be in this one. 

But I look for Hurts to outplay Purdy and lead the Eagles to the Super Bowl. That Eagles offensive line and pass rush will decide this game. 

Pick: Eagles 30, 49ers 21

Sunday, 6:30 p.m. ET (CBS, Paramount+)

Featured Game | Kansas City Chiefs vs. Cincinnati Bengals

The big issue here is the health of Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes. After suffering a high-ankle sprain last week against Jacksonville, will he be able to move? If not, what does that mean to the Chiefs offense since he does so much damage off schedule and outside the pocket?

The Kansas City offense did some good things when he returned against Jacksonville after the injury, but he certainly looked limited in terms of mobility. That will matter against a Bengals defense that has so many moving parts and can blitz from all over. They’ve done a great job against him late in games in the past three times they’ve played. The Jaguars didn’t come after Mahomes enough after he hurt his ankle, but you can bet the Bengals will, even though that’s not the strategy they used to beat him in the title game last year. They came after Josh Allen a lot last week in their upset victory.

In that game, Joe Burrow and the offense had success moving the football. An offensive line that was down three starters played well as the Bengals ran it with Joe Mixon and Burrow hit some big shots in the passing game. Mixon didn’t play in the regular-season game between these teams this season, but he will be big in this one. The Chiefs can get after the quarterback, after registering 55 sacks this season, which will put a premium on running the ball and protection for the Bengals, who could have some of those offensive linemen back.

The Bengals have beaten the Chiefs three straight times, including the AFC Championship Game last January and a regular-season game this season. Burrow seems to relish the big moments. I expect him to play well here, while Mahomes’ limited mobility will be in play. That matters and it’s why the Bengals will be going to their second straight Super Bowl.

Pick: Bengals 27, Chiefs 24 

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