NFC Championship Preview: 49ers @ Eagles

By Conor Perrett 

The time has come for the NFL Conference Championship games, and in less than 24 hours we will know which two teams will meet in the Superbowl. 

The first game on the schedule is in the NFC as the No. 1 and 2 seeds meet. The Eagles and 49ers have been the two most impressive teams on this side of the bracket, but they’ve both got here with different styles. 

Now only one of these teams can represent the NFC in the main event in two weeks. 

No. 1 Philadelphia Eagles

Philadelphia has been the best team in the league for the majority of the season, with them being special on both sides of the ball. 

On offence, Jalen Hurts was in the MVP conversation before his injury, while their defence may just be the second best in the league to the team they will be facing at 8.00 pm tonight (GMT). 

What this game might be influenced by is the health of these players. 

Towards the end of the year injuries were starting to add up and it was getting a bit worrying after Hurts and left-tackle Lane Johnson both went down. They’ve had a few weeks to rest, but we don’t really know where Philly stands currently. 

The Eagles dispatched of the Giants easily last week with a highly- impressive performance, but it was against a team they had beaten twice already and the weakest remaining team in the playoffs.

What we do know is this team will look to come out the blocks fast and if they can play anywhere near to how they were in the first half of the season, Philadelphia may well find themselves in the Super Bowl.

Matchup to keep an eye on – Stopping the 49ers’ run game: If there has been one weakness to the Eagles all year it’s been their run defence. Their defensive-line is stacked with talent, but stopping interior runs has been a problem. It just so happens that this is the Niners strength, with them taking a focus to the run game. While on paper Philly has more talent on that side of the trenches, stopping the run and forcing Brock Purdy to throw into a tough secondary will be the game plan for this Eagles’ defence.

No. 2 San Francisco 49ers 

Kyle Shanahan has come from a family famous for its NFL coaching and it’s led to him being one of the best offensive play-callers in the league. 

Alongside General Manager John Lynch, they have built a team in San Francisco that is strong of both sides of the ball. But on the offence side where Shanahan specialises, his style has allowed for them to get this far despite starting a quarterback that was taken last at pick 262 in the NFL Draft just nine months ago.

Brock Purdy stepped into this offence when previous starters Trey Lance and Jimmy G went down with injuries and hasn’t looked back since. With an array of weapons that includes Deebo Samuel, George Kittle, Christian McCaffrey and many more, the Niners play-action focused playing style makes them a tough team to stop. 

Last week against the Cowboys we saw this team take on a top defence and still come through unscathed. Now, they will have to do it again, but they won’t have the luxury of facing an inconsistent offence this time round.

Matchup to keep an eye on – 49ers’D-Line vs Philly’s O-Line: Both of these positioned groups are regarded as their best respected positional groups in the league. San Fran has talent all over the line including potential DPOY Nick Bosa, while the Eagles have two players in Jason Kelce and Lane Johnson who may just be the two best offensive linemen in the league. This battle in the trenches will be a brawl all night long in the run and passing game, and the winner may just determine the outcome of the game.

Hurts’ mobility is what makes his offence so electric and if the 49ers’ feisty defensive-line can pressure him, it could be a recipe to success.

Previous Matchups

2021 Season:

Week 2 – 49ers @ Eagles, 17-11 49ers Win

These two teams last met during Week 2 of last season, in the exact same destination of the Conference Championship. Despite this, both teams looked a lot different with this being the start of a three-game losing streak for Philadelphia. They were in their first year under head-coach Nick Sirianni, while the Niners had Jimmy Garoppolo as the starting QB.

NFC Championship Game Prediction

As you can see I have laid out why both of these teams have gotten this far and why this matchup is so close.

The Eagles have been the most dominant team all year long, while on the other hand the Niners are the hottest team down the stretch. With the game being in Philadelphia I think the crowd will play a part with its noise and is a reason why the Eagles are considered 2.5 points favourites.

I feel this game could be a bit like the Niners and Cowboys game last week with it being a battle of the defences and fairly low scoring. Both teams have very few weaknesses, but if I had to look at where something could be taken advantage of, it’s Philly’s run defence. I fear this may be the game where Purdy will look like the seventh-round rookie he is, but the Niners run the ball so well.

In the end I’m going to back the Niners who I predicted to win the Super Bowl, but Philly will take this to over-time where it will be a classic of a game. 

49ers 21-18 Eagles

NFL Playoff Team MVP and Rookie Awards

By Conor Perrett

With the NFL Divisional Rounds soon upon us, only eight teams are coming round for corner for the final stretch, so let’s look at the players that have got them in contention for the Super Bowl.

In this piece we’re looking at the Most Valuable Player and Rookie of the Year for each remaining franchise. 

These players have played an important part in getting their team to compete and now stand just three wins away from lifting the Lombardi Trophy. 

Kansas City Chiefs

MVP – QB Patrick Mahomes: When it comes to MVP’s, there is no doubting that Mahomes may just be the best player on not only his team, but in the National Football League. He currently has the best odds to lift the award in three weeks time after his spectacular season, where he finished first in passing yards, passing touchdowns and QB rating. All the while commanding his offence to first in DVOA and EPA per drive.

With the way the offence runs with Mahomes at the helm and the average defence he has to deal with, there is no more important piece to this Chiefs side and it seems he won’t be going anywhere anytime soon. 

ROTY –  RB Isaiah Pacheco (7th Round): When Pacheco was selected with the 251st pick in the draft, there was probably no intention for him to make the impact he did in his rookie season. With 4.3 40-yard speed, Pacheco looked to be a return specialist that could also be a speedy piece in the backfield. 

That speedy piece has proved his worth and it was Week 1 when he started to make impacts with a rushing touchdown. It wasn’t soon after that Pacheco had beaten out the likes of Clyde Edwards-Helaire and was announced the starter by Week 7. From there, Pacheco grew into his role with 960 scrimmage yards on the season, leading NFL rookies and the most yards in NFL history from a seventh-round pick in his rookie year.

Philadelphia Eagles

MVP – CB Darius Slay / James Bradberry:  The Eagles have had a fantastic season on both sides of the ball, as it was hard to pick a standout. QB Jalen Hurts stepped up to be a franchise quarterback behind his impressive offensive line, but cornerback duo Slay and Bradberry, have shutdown opposing receivers all year to turn around Philly’s defence.

Having a lockdown corner is always important to defences, but the luxury of two is rare. In the Eagles’ case they did, with both defensive backs nabbing three interceptions on the season. Interceptions were only a small part of the story, as both corners ranked in the top-7 for passer-rating allowed and finished 1st and 2nd in NFL’s Next Gen stats for production score.

ROTY – S Reed Blankenship (UDFA): When you are as successful as Philly, it’s hard for rookies to make an immediate impact on the team. In Blankenship’s case he was the next man to step up when C.J. Gardner-Johnson went down mid-season and paved a way onto the starting defence.

Blankenship is the only rookie on this list to go undrafted, but that shouldn’t qualify how talented he is. Collecting 34 tackles, two pass breakups, and one INT, he started the season as No. 4 safety, but soon earned the right to No. 3 and got starting thanks to injuries. Gardner-Johnson soon returned but coaches still wanted the undrafted rookie on the field. Blankenship now comes into the lineup when the Eagles move into nickel, and will likely still play a key role in Philly’s playoff run. 

Buffalo Bills

MVP – QB Josh Allen: It’s no secret that Josh Allen is the engine to this high explosive offence. Allen isn’t afraid to take risks and is a reason why the Bills finished the season 2nd in offensive DVOA, as his passing touchdowns and QB rating were 2nd in the league, behind only Mahomes.

Allen brings a different style of play to the table though and is a force on the ground. At 6’4, 235 pounds, he’s a big fella to bring and loves to make contact with defenders. His erratic playstyle comes with its downside such as injuries and turnovers, but it’s the risk you take with Allen and the rewards have so far outweighed the consequences.

ROTY – RB James Cook (2nd Round): We’ve already spoken about the Bills’ offence under Allen, but the run-game has always been a weakness. The younger brother of Pro-Bowler Dalvin Cook, James exploded onto the scene in college thanks to his receiving ability out of the backfield. It got him drafted in the second round, but he was never able to be an outright starter.

Cook might have not had the season that was expected out of him, but he was far more successful on the ground. With 687 scrimmage yards, 507 of them have come on the ground at a fantastic 5.7 yards per carry. Though he shares the backfield in a committee, averaging the amount of yards he does, on limited carries is a great way to stand out from the rest.

San Francisco 49ers

MVP – RB Christian McCaffrey : The Niners look like one of the strongest teams in the playoffs right now, but their season didn’t start with great success. At the start it was a bumpy ride with a 3-4 record before a 10-game win streak to finish the year, making them the team they are today.

There are many factors on why this turnaround happened, but the trade in Week 7 for McCaffrey was a major turning point. The 49ers had weapons all over the team, but the superstar running back was the missing piece. Since landing CMC, the 49ers have scored 31 or more points in seven of 11 games with McCaffrey personally having 100+ scrimmage yards or a touchdown in every game but one. He fits like a glove in Kyle Shanahan’s offence and despite starting a seventh-round rookie at QB in Brock Purdy, McCaffrey’s presence on the field had tipped the Niners over the edge. 

ROTY – QB Brock Purdy (7th Round): That seventh-round rookie I just mentioned shouldn’t be taken as a negative and despite starting the season as the third-string QB, Purdy is the man of the hour in San Francisco right now. Being the last pick in the draft can be embarrassing when the title ‘Mr. Irrelevant’ comes into play, but Purdy has almost won it as a badge of honour.

Making his first appearance for San Fran, during their massive ‘Master vs Student’ game against Miami in Week 13, Purdy came in to replace Jimmy G mid-game and hasn’t looked back since. Brock has a sense of confidence you rarely see in a rookie QB, let alone one taken at pick 262 in the NFL Draft. His passer rating of 107.3 is the best amongst quarterbacks in the span of his first snap and he caused serious confusion on what the 49ers might do at the QB position next season,  which will have the third overall pick from 2021 Draft Trey Lance vying to start. 

Cincinnati Bengals

MVP – QB Joe Burrow: Mahomes and Allen are regarded as the best two quarterbacks in the NFL, but if there’s one man who can compete with them; it’s Joe Burrow. 

Burrow struggled to get playing time at Ohio State in college, but since his senior year at LSU, Burrow may be the most impressive and coolest quarterback out there. Shattering all the college records and then getting drafted to the Bengals, has led Burrow to this moment.

On Cincinnati’s’ run to the Super Bowl last year, Burrow showed he could get out of the AFC  and a year on it still feels the same. Finishing the season 5th in passing yards and 2nd in passing touchdowns, Burrow can conduct an offence and hit his receivers better than anybody. The confidence that surrounds him must be intimidating for opposing defences and to think he’s still on his rookie contract.

ROTY – OG Cordell Volson (4th Round): Much like the best teams in the NFL, the Bengals didn’t have too many rookies contributors on the team. Their first-round pick Dax Hill didn’t see the field too often, but left-guard Volson played in every offensive snap.

The Bengals’ offensive-line has been a problem over the years, but it gradually improved over the course of the season. For a Day 3 pick to make the contribution he has on a Super Bowl contender, should be seen as an enormous achievement, and his confidence should keep growing.

Dallas Cowboys

MVP – EDGE Micah Parsons: Parsons hit the scene when he was in contention for Defensive Player of the Year in his rookie season last year, and this past season was no different. Parsons is up for that same award again, with the versatility he brings to the linebacker and edge-rusher position. His 13.5 sacks on the season put him in 7th for that statistic, on a Cowboys’ defence that ranked 2nd in defensive DVOA.

The ability of Parsons makes him one of the most feared players on the defensive side of the ball and as he’s one of the main reasons why Dallas were able to get 12 wins on the season.

ROTY – OL Tyler Smith (1st Round): The pick of Tyler Smith back in the Draft was highly criticised as it was seen as a reach. These criticisms should get put to bed, as he’s had the best season of all the rookie offensive linemen. 

Smith was thrown straight into the action during training camp when star left-tackle Tyron Smith went down. Having spent the off-season training at guard, it caused him to have to switch to the tackle position. The transition hasn’t been perfect but better than expected. 

Smith was seen as a great run blocker which he has been and it was his pass blocking that was seen as a weakness. He’s had his ups and downs with penalties, but shutting down the likes of Trey Hendrickson early in the season was particularly impressive.

Jacksonville Jaguars

MVP – QB Trevor Lawrence: Lawrence didn’t quite have the start to his career that many expected from the ‘generational talent’, but his second half of the season was just what people hoped to see.

Lawrence struggled with interceptions but his decision-making has improved over Year 2. His completion percentage, yards-per-attempt, and TD-to-INT ratio have improved significantly, which led the Jaguars to the playoffs. In that first half to the Chargers, it wasn’t pretty with four interceptions but he didn’t let that affect him or the team. He triumphed back in the second half, making the right reads and completing passes that helped score Jacksonville a win for the ages and a place in the Divisional Rounds.

ROTY – C Luke Fortner (3rd Round): Jacksonville had many rookies thrown into the lineup and make contributions, but the third-round pick was the most valuable. Fortner went directly into the starting lineup during training camp and has played in all 17 games. He allowed just one sack all season from the centre position and has regularly received praise from head-coach Doug Pederson.

New York Giants

MVP – HC Brian Daboll: It may feel like cheating not choosing a player for this Giants team, but no person was more valuable to the organisation than the head-coach. Expectations for the season in the first year of a rebuild, was to build an identity and get a few wins. New York exceeded these and then some and now find themselves as one of the last eight remaining teams in the playoffs.

Daboll came from an offensive background and has turned round the career of Daniel Jones. In Jones’ first three seasons, it was looking like he may not have a future in the league, but Daboll has slowed things down for him at the quarterback position. It started with Daboll relying on the run-game and getting Jones to cut down on the turnovers that had haunted him up to that point in his career. It meant this offence relied on the run more, while Jones made the simple safe throws. 

When that started to work, he slowly amped Jones’ production up, letting him be more loose until in the Wild-Card round where he was the first QB in Playoff history to record 300+ passing yards, 70+ rushing yards, two touchdowns with zero interceptions. With the turn around Daboll has conducted with this team, his name is leading the way for Coach of the Year. 

ROTY – EDGE Kayvon Thibodeaux (1st Round): Thibodeaux was seen as the No. 1 prospect entering his Junior year in Oregon, but injuries and a down year found him to go fifth in the NFL Draft to the Giants.

He had a fairly slow start to the season and his stats didn’t jump out to you with four sacks, but his overall game looked good. His speed to power made him a force in the run-game with his Week 16 game vs the Commanders being a standout. Exploding in that NFC East divisional game with 12 total tackles, one sack and three tackles for loss and a touchdown, Thibodeaux finished the regular season second in total pressures among rookie edge-rushers.

Our Analysts NFL Playoff Predictions

By Conor Perrett, Tom Green and David McDonnell 

The NFL Playoffs are a time of chaos and upsets and with them right round the corner, here at Smashmouthing football we’ve created brackets to what we think will happen. 

Using a bracket predictor, starting with the wild-card matchups, each one of us has predicted the outcome to each game until there’s one team left to lift the Lombardi Trophy.

Please keep in mind, we are predicting the future here, which will always look terrible in retrospect unless one of us manages to get it right. 

David: “To quickly guide you through my bracket, I think the three best teams are in the AFC. What sets them apart in my book, compared to say the 49ers, is at quarterback and I can see Joe Burrow and the Bengals beating the Chiefs as they did earlier in the season.

What I like about the Bengals is the high level consistency of Burrow with an array of weapons, coupled with a competitive and smart defence. 

On the NFC side of the draw, I expect the 49ers and Eagles to make the NFC championship game and I believe the 49ers have the D-line that can stand up and stop the Eagles’ O-line, the best in football. 

Looking at Jalen Hurts last weekend, I believe his injury could be worse than Philadelphia are letting on and it was notable that he didn’t run into contact against the Giants in Week 18.

I do worry about the recent loss of two offensive linemen in Cincinnati, especially if they were to face a 49ers defence in the big show. But saying that, I’ll go with the Bengals because they are the most balanced team with a top-three QB in the league.”

Conor: “The NFL playoffs are always difficult to predict and I find that’s because of the uncertainty that happens when it gets to the month of January. For that reason I’ve gone a bit outside of the box and selected the 49ers to win the Super Bowl. 

Currently the Niners have the fourth best odds to be victorious, but I think there’s many reasons why they will overcome these odds.  

For starters San Francisco has the best defence out of everybody. There’s an old saying that goes “offence wins you games but defence wins you championships.” 

What that entails is when you get to the final stages, everyone is going to have great offences, but the ones with the better defences will stop them. There are things that worry me about this team – mainly seventh-round rookie Brock Purdy at QB – but so far he’s looked calm and collective and I trust Kyle Shanahan to put him in the right situations.

That leaves me to my last point, the 49ers have made the long journey to the Super Bowl before, but fell short. When you taste defeat at the last hurdle, it makes certain characters want that success even more. To me, San Fran has those characters all over the team and won’t stop at nothing in order to achieve them.

For the rest of my bracket, I have the Bills getting out of the stacked AFC. The three best teams in the league right now may be on that AFC side, and when they are all so closely matched it feels like a coin toss. Buffalo will need to use everything they’ve got to get past the Bengals and Chiefs, but I think they’re talented enough to do so.

To finish things off, yes I have the No. 5 seed Dallas Cowboys making the NFC Championship. Like I said, there’s always upsets and I think Dallas will surprise a few. Philly have regressed over the last month due to injuries and that will hurt them in an NFC East clash.”

Tom: “So I’ve got the Cincinnati Bengals going one step better this year, taking home the franchise’s first Lombardi Trophy with a victory over Jalen Hurts and the Philadelphia Eagles.

On the AFC side, it was a hard exercise to pick between the Buffalo Bills, Kansas City Chiefs and the aforementioned Cincinnati. Based on their regular season performances, all would be worthy Super Bowl champions, but titles aren’t won from Week 1 to 18.

It’s a likely scenario that the winner of the conference will have to beat at least one of these teams. Well in my prediction, I have Cincinnati beating both, and on the road in back-to-back weeks. Maybe it’s the confidence in which they carry themselves that has influenced my guesses, but when the lights are brightest this postseason, I think we will see Joe Burrow shine just as bright. 

The Bengals are built for playoff football and 2022 will be their year.

The NFC in itself is entirely more open to me, while I have the Philadelphia Eagles making the Super Bowl. I can’t say a one and done loss at home in the Divisional round would be a shocking turn of events.

But in my prediction I have Philly going to the dance, narrowly beating the San Francisco 49ers at home in the NFC Championship game.

I feel like we are more likely to encounter upsets on the NFC side and look out for the Giants @ Vikings being an example of this.”

Interesting side note

Interesting side note, every game of Super Wildcard Weekend is a rematch from the 2022 regular season.

49ers def. Seahawks 27-7 & 21-13 in Week 2 & 15

Jaguars def. Chargers 38-10 in Week 3

Vikings def. Giants 27-24 in Week 16

Buccaneers def. Cowboys 19-3 in Week 1

Dolphins & Bills split wins 21-9 & 32-29 in Week 3 & 15

Ravens & Bengals split wins 19-17 & 27-16 in Week 5 & 18

As you can see all of our predictions are set as we get ever closer to the Playoffs. In the end, none of us chose either No. 1 seed to be Super Bowl Champions, as it shows how competitive the league is right now. 

May the best man win in their bracket predictions, and let us know who you think is going to be the Super Bowl winner in a month’s time. 

49ers win seven in a row 

By David McDonnell 

It turned out to be easier than expected for the 49ers. 

Brock Purdy continued to impress under centre completing 17 out of 26 pass attempts for 217 yards and two touchdowns. 

The first came when he found George Kittle through the middle and the tight-end ran into the endzone for the opening score. 

Tre Greenlaw has been brilliant all season when he’s been for and when he knocked the ball free in a tackle, the fumble was returned by Charvarius Ward inside 10 yards.

Two plays later Christian McCaffery punched it into the endzone. 

In the first minute of the second half, Purdy working through his protections saw Kittle free on a busted coverage and the tight-end caught and ran in for a 54-yard touchdown.

It put 18 points between the sides and from there to the finish the contest was never in jeopardy, but the Seahawks did well to make it a one score contest by the end when Geno Smith found Noah Fant in the endzone with three and a half minutes left.

The 21-13 victory gave San Francisco their seventh win in a row and confirmed their position in the postseason. Christian McCaffery is being used regularly and with great effect. This Niners defence is playing at a Superbowl winning level and they held the Seahawks to 70 rushing yards.

It will take a good team playing well to stop the 49ers in the NFC. 

TNF: 49ers v Seahawks

By Conor Perrett

Week 15 of the NFL season starts off with a NFC West clash between the top two teams in the division. 

The game has major implications for the playoff picture, with a win for the 49ers giving them the division title, while a win for the Seahawks would put them back in the play-off positions as the Giants and Commanders play each other on Sunday night.   

This is a matchup that has lots of history behind it, but will be the first time the QB’s of either team, Brock Purdy and Geno Smith, will meet and hopefully make more headlines to what is usually a spicy affair. 

Seattle Seahawks (7-6)

Power Rankings: 16th

DVOA Rankings: Offence: 9th, Defence: 21st, ST: 2nd Overall: 10th 

When Seattle made the blockbuster trade to send long-term quarterback Russell Wilson to the Denver Broncos, we expected this Seahawks team to enter a rebuild and fight for draft picks. A surprise start of the season changed that and put the Seahawks in a position to make a run for the play-offs.

The 6-3 start put them in a good position but with one win over the last month is a setback. Over that span, their play on both sides of the ball has regressed, with teams running the ball against their defence with ease and they are coming off a loss to the Carolina Panthers, where they ran the ball for 223 yards. 

While the offence has shown flashes of good over the season, their worst performance came in Week 2 against the Niners. They were held to seven points and quarterback Geno Smith struggled against that defence in particular.

San Francisco 49ers (9-4)

Power Rankings – 5th

DVOA Rankings: Offence: 10th, Defence:  2nd, ST: 14th, Overall: 3rd 

The 49ers open this game as favourites and despite having a top defence, offence is the main success for winning games in this league. 

That is a testament to how well Brock Purdy has played so far. The Mr. Irrelevant of this year’s draft class, has come in after the two previous QB’s in front of him have gone down with injuries. So far he has not put a foot wrong for the Niners. 

His impressive performance against a red hot Miami team put the league on notice, and last Sunday, his dismantling of the Buccaneers only confirmed that.

A San Fran win would not only give them a season sweep over the Seahawks, but it would also give them a three-game lead with only three games to play in the NFC West. With them also holding the tiebreaker, that means the division would be locked up with a victory.

Previous Matchups

2022 Season:

Week 2 – Seahawks @ 49ers, 7-27, 49ers Win

Last season the Seahawks had the way with the Niners, but Seattle were a completely different team at that time. Russell Wilson was their QB and they viewed the play-offs as a minimum. Now this season they are in rebuild mode and San Fran took advantage of that when they put them away fairly comfortably earlier in the season.


The main thing to keep an eye on to the build up of this game, is the status of Brock Purdy who is listed as questionable. The expectation is for him to play, but with the offensive powers of head coach Kyle Shanahan, it might not matter who’s under the helmet at QB.

This one feels like a fairly easy game for me to predict. On paper the 49ers offence and defence is better than Seattle’s, while they also look to match-up better as well. This San Francisco team likes to run the ball and suffer opposing teams on defence. That matches up perfectly against the Seahawks who have trouble stopping the run and playing good defence.

It’s the main reason why the Niners had so much success against them earlier in the season and even without quarterbacks Trey Lance, who was playing in that game and Jimmy Garoppolo,  I can see no different result.

49ers 27-13 Seahawks

The NFC and AFC Playoff Scenario

By David McDonnell 

We are almost half way through December, so from now I will begin to focus more on the teams threatening the top seven in both the NFC and AFC as the NFL begins to separate the wheat from the chaff. 

Lets talk through the current playoff scenario starting with the NFC.


One of the most interesting stories from Sunday was the performance of Mr. Irrelevant Brock Purdy, who beat out Tom Brady and his Buccaneers in the first start of his NFL career.

Last week, the rookie QB came on after Jimmy Garoppolo broke his leg and was very impressive. From what I saw last night, 49ers fans should be greatly encouraged by Purdy.

I realise I am going by a small sample size but Purdy’s remit is to not turn over the ball and make the throws when asked by Kyle Shanahan. On Sunday, the 49ers rushing offence had over 200 yards on the ground with Purdy throwing to eight different receivers. His throws were on point and he completed 16/21 throws against the Bucs and seemed very comfortable in this offence.

I didn’t see any step down from anything Jimmy G has shown this season.

Purdy has a very calm demeanor under centre and comes across a very cool customer whether he is under pressure from pass-rushers or being asked questions on national television in the after match interviews. There may be a fun personality behind that calm façade he is showing presently, and I am sure I am not the only one to notice the Shooter McGavin pistol celebration whenever he throws a touchdown pass. 

The 49ers have now won six games in a row and are genuine contenders to win the NFC Championship. Although Deebo Samuel was carted off with an ankle injury, it is not suspected to be serious.

The 49er main rivals for the NFC crown are the Eagles, who went 12-1 on the season thus becoming the first team to secure their NFC playoff spot after making light work of the Giants. 

The Eagles run game was dominant throughout as the Eagles rushed for over 250 yards and four touchdowns. 

It was all too easy for Philly who went 21-0 up when AJ Brown caught his 10th touchdown of the season. Not to be outdone, Jalen Hurts ran in his 10th rushing TD in the second half.

It leaves the Giants in seventh spot in the NFC rankings with a record of 7-5-1, just one place behind the Commanders, who with the same record somehow jump two places to sixth seeds despite being on their bye week. 

The Commanders and Giants are set to renew acquaintances on Sunday Night Football in Week 15, which is next weekend, which should open the door to the Seahawks and the Lions to stake a playoff claim.

The Seahawks lost their play-off positions for now after falling to the Carolina Panthers who took an early 17-0 lead in the contest. Seattle replied and Tyler Lockett did well to tow-tap his way at the back of the endzone for his first touchdown.

Smith also found DK Metcalf for a touchdown and also connected with Terrace Marshall for a memorable catch. 

Although Geno got his side close, they found it difficult to stop the Carolina run game, who had over 220 yards, while the Seahawks could only amass 48 yards from their rushing attack. 

After starting the season 1-5, coach Steve Wilks has the Panthers at 5-8 and only a game behind the Bucs who sit top of the NFC North with six wins. With both teams lined up to face each other in Week 17, this division is still there to be won. 

Another team that started 1-5 and are on the edge of a playoff position are the Detroit Lions, who lived up to their billing as favourite to turn over the 10-2 Vikings. 

The Lions are littered with young talent across their roster and former Alabama star wideout Jamison Williams opened the scoring with a touchdown on the first reception of his career. 

Dan Campbell has his charges on a roll and with their high powered offence could surprise a higher seed in January. The Lions kept the Vikings at arm’s length throughout and sealed victory when they threw to tackle Penny Sewell to pick up a late first down. 

Another team with their playoff prospects almost secure are the Dallas Cowboys who were pushed all the way by the one-win Houston Texans. 

They needed a stop from Dexter Laurence on fourth and goal from the one yard line which was then followed by a late 98-yard drive from Dak Prescott which ended with an Ezekiel Elliot TD for a 23-27 win. 


The Tennessee Titans dropped their third straight loss as Trevor Laurence continues to build on his recent good form. Derek Henry had a great first quarter running for 96 yards and a touchdown but Laurence led the Jags to 26 unanswered points in the second and third quarters. 

It leaves the Titans looking over their shoulder but with a two game lead and four weeks left to play in the regular season, they still should represent the AFC South in January. 

Joe Burrow got his first win against his Ohio neighbors, the Cleveland Browns, with a routine victory. Burrow opened the scoring in the second quarter when he found Ja’Marr Chase with an accurate pass for his seventh touchdown of the season to go with 119 receiving yards.

Further scores from Samaje Perine and a flea-flicker pass to Trenton Irwin to extend the lead in the third quarter. 

Staying in the AFC North the Ravens won the battle of the backup QBs after both Kenny Pickett and Tyler Hunt had to leave the game injured. They were replaced by Mitch Trubisky and Anthony Brown. 

Although a late Pat Friermuith touchdown left just two points between the teams, Baltimore saw the game out without any drama.

It means the Bengals and Ravens are both 9-4 and they still have to meet later in a few weeks.

Patrick Mahomes took the Chiefs into a 27-0 lead against the Broncos during which he threw a nonchalant touchdown pass to Jerrick McKinnon. 

Another piece of magic in the second half saw Mahomes find Juju Smith-Schuster in the endzone as he added more highlights to his MVP candidacy.

The Kansas City QB wasn’t perfect and threw three interceptions and the Broncos narrowed the gap to a one-score game after receiver Jerry Jeudy scored a hat-trick of touchdowns. 

The Buffalo Bills got their season back on track after a recent dip in form by overcoming the New York Jets. The Bills defence turned up this week and landed some big hits on Mike White. 

The Bills led throughout after a memorable score by Dawson Knox, whose landing in the endzone resembled that of an Olympic gymnastic fail for six points. 

Josh Allen continues to put his body on the line with ball in hand on most third down situations and as big and athletic his frame is, in my opinion, it is only a matter of time until he picks up a significant injury.

The Bills are currently top of the AFC standings at 9-4 and are ahead due to their head-to-head win over the Chiefs earlier in that epic game earlier in the season.

The Bills win leaves the Jets outside the playoff positions, although with the same 7-6 record as the LA Chargers, who overcame the Miami Dolphins  in the late kick-off on Sunday Night: and the New England Patriots, who won on the road against the Cardinals on Monday Night Football: .

It leaves the Pats as seventh seeds in the AFC with four games left to play. Of the three, my two-cents would be on the Chargers and because of Justin Herbert, who in my book is already an NFL superstar.

Don’t worry the rest of you will catch up soon enough.