Before I talk about the Super Bowl teams, I want to talk about the teams that lost this weekend.
The 49ers and the Bengals were both fatally flawed teams, and that’s why they lost.
The Bengals fatal flaw was obviously their lack of an offensive line. I know they had 3 starters down to injury, but Joe Burrow got sacked 5 times in this game, four times in just the first quarter alone, and was under heavy pressure all night. He still almost overcame it, but ultimately it was just not possible. The pocket for him was so bad early in the game that he literally couldn’t do anything for the whole first quarter. The first quarter for the Bengals was basically a write-off. You can’t win games that way.
If the Bengals would’ve made it to the Super Bowl against this Eagles pass rush, it would have been a bloodbath. You saw how the Eagles pass rush knocked not one but two 49er quarterbacks out of the game, and that was against one of the better offensive lines in the league.
The Eagles pass rush against the Cincinnati offensive line would have been a war crime.
Look, I was pulling for the Bengals to beat the Chiefs because I kind of hate the Chiefs, but a Bengals vs. Eagles Super Bowl would have been ugly as hell. Philly would have had double digit sacks.
The Bengals just have a fatal flaw and it is that their offensive line cannot protect the quarterback.
Once they did start getting better protection for Burrow in the second and third quarters of that game, he was picking that Kansas City secondary apart. Just doing whatever he wanted.
But then in the fourth quarter, the Chiefs dialed up the pressure and the Bengals couldn’t do a damn thing. There were at least three times in this game where Joe Burrow just threw the ball into the dirt because his offensive line got blown up immediately. It is so difficult to win games when you are doing that.
Pretty much every critical mistake the Bengals made in this game can be traced back to their offensive line. The two picks Burrow threw were in the face of heavy pressure, the intentional grounding late in the game was due to pressure–it was all on the offensive line. They just couldn’t protect the quarterback at all.
Now, I would be remiss without bringing up the 15 yard penalty on Bengals linebacker Joseph Ossai for hitting Mahomes late out of bounds at the end. It definitely cost the Bengals the game, because it immediately set the Chiefs up in field goal range with only 8 seconds left to play:
Without the penalty, it would have been first and 10 at the Bengals 40 with only 8 seconds to play, and the Chiefs were out of timeouts at this point. They still would’ve had one more play to try to get into field goal range if Ossai didn’t commit the penalty, but the odds of the game going to overtime would have been very high.
Did Mahomes flop? Yeah, probably. But he’s going to get that call 10 times out of 10. He is the most protected player in the league other than Brady. The Chiefs just get every call in general, but I’m not getting into that.
While Ossai did commit a terribly costly blunder, it’s hard for me to pin it all on him. He wasn’t malicious or emphatic with that push at all. There were a lot of other reasons the Bengals lost that game. With even an average offensive line, the Bengals win comfortably. And again, I think if the Bengals did find a way to win this game, they would have gotten absolutely smashed in the Super Bowl by the Eagles.
The Eagles have the best pass rush since the Bears of the 1980s. This is a historically elite pass rush, and there is absolutely no way the Bengals would have been able to keep them away from Burrow in the Super Bowl.
The offensive line was the fatal flaw for Cincy. They’ve got the quarterback, they’ve got the running backs, they’ve got the receivers, they’ve got a defense, but their offensive line is atrocious. They nearly overcame it, but you can only get away with having a terrible offensive line for a short time. You can’t win the Super Bowl with a line this bad.
Kansas City was fighting their own uphill battle in this game. Mahomes was hobbled, Kelce’s back was messed up, L’Jarius Sneed was banged up, and I think the Chiefs top 3 receivers were all knocked out of the game. But they were able to do just enough to get the win because they have an absolutely lights out offensive line. The Chiefs offensive line is the real MVP of this postseason, and nobody is going to talk about it, but they did such a great job protecting Mahomes in this game.
It made such a difference. I cannot praise that Chiefs offensive line enough; they were the only reason Kansas City had a chance in that game. They decided the game.
And as for the 49ers, their fatal flaw is the same its been for about a decade now: they don’t have a great quarterback.
They’ve got arguably the best roster in the NFL. If they had a quarterback, they’d breeze to a Super Bowl. But they were relying on Mr. Irrelevant and then Josh Johnson, a guy who was out of the NFL for 5 years before coming back in 2018.
I picked the Eagles to beat the 49ers strictly because of the fact that the Eagles have a quarterback and the 49ers were down to a third stringer. You’re not winning a Super Bowl with Brock Purdy at quarterback. I said this before they played the Eagles, so I’m not just saying this with the benefit of hindsight.
I saw someone on Twitter say something to the effect of, “Kyle Shanahan is the greatest play-caller ever, but he is cursed with never having a great quarterback.” It’s true.
And it’s why I think the 49ers are going to move heaven and earth to get either Tom Brady or Aaron Rodgers in the offseason.
No more screwing around. Don’t waste any more time with Trey Lance, make Brock Purdy the backup–do what needs to be done to acquire either Tom Brady or Aaron Rodgers. Brady would be preferable because he’s a free agent and they wouldn’t have to give anything up to acquire him, but if they think he’s washed up, then they need to do whatever it takes to trade for Aaron Rodgers. You have to try. You cannot waste this incredible roster another season longer; you have to do whatever it takes to get yourself a Super Bowl caliber quarterback.
I wonder how many Super Bowls San Fran would’ve won had they just signed Tom Brady back in early 2020, when he was on the market. They must have thought he was washed back then so they passed on him. Do not make that mistake again. Brady is going to be 46 next season but he can still throw it. He threw for almost 4700 yards this year. He just needs a great offensive line in front of him because he really, really doesn’t want to get hit, and San Fran has a line he could work with.
Just do it, San Fran. Put on the full court press for Tom Brady. Beg and plead with him if you have to.
You cannot go into another season with this Pro Bowl roster and have either Jimmy G, Brock Purdy or Trey Lance under center. You just can’t do it. No more messing around; go out and get a legitimate quarterback.
In the 2019 Super Bowl against the Chiefs, the 49ers had a 20-10 lead in the 4th quarter. Patrick Mahomes threw an interception on the ensuing Chiefs drive with 11:57 remaining in the game. That was the time to put the game on ice if you’re San Fran. Just get to the finish line.
And yet their next four drives from that point on went as follows:
- 5 plays, 17 yards, punt
- 3 plays, 5 yards, punt
- 7 plays, 27 yards, turnover on downs
- 2 plays, 0 yards, INT, although by this point the game was out of hand
The Chiefs scored touchdowns on their next three possessions following the Mahomes pick. They made it 20-17, then took a 24-20 lead, and then made 31-20 to really put it away. San Fran, meanwhile, did nothing on offense in the 4th quarter.
When the pressure was on, Jimmy Garoppolo could not get it done. He is not a quarterback that is going to lead you down the field and either put the game away or lead the comeback.
You saw it yet again in the NFC Championship game last year against the Rams. The 49ers had a 17-7 lead going into the 4th quarter of that game but could not close it out. After going up 17-7 with 1:59 left in the third quarter, the 49ers next three drives went as follows:
- 6 plays, 36 yards, punt
- 3 plays, -5 yards, punt
- 3 plays, -3 yards, interception
You can’t expect your defense to close these games out deep in the playoffs. It’s just not going to happen. For one, defenses get tired; second, the rules are geared towards offenses and the NFL wants to see late game fireworks and drama so the team that is trailing is going to get every single call. Plus, the other team is desperate at this point so they’re going to really make a push.
If you’re winning in the 4th quarter of a playoff game and it’s still undecided, you cannot expect to just turtle up and hold the other team to zero points and bleed out the clock. It doesn’t work that way. Very rarely does the score going into the 4th quarter hold all the way until the game clock reads all zeros. You are going to have to move the chains on offense and put some more points on the board, because the other team is going to score and make it close.
The Rams wound up winning the game 20-17, outscoring San Fran 13-0 in the 4th quarter. The 49ers had a chance to re-take the lead with about 7 minutes to play, when it was 17-17, but Garoppolo couldn’t do anything. The Niners had a chance to go down the field and either tie it up or win the game after the Rams took a 20-17 lead with just 1:45 left to play. San Fran got the ball on their own 25, but could not move the ball an inch, and Garoppolo ended up throwing a pick just trying to make something happen.
As I was watching that last ill-fated drive by Garoppolo, I just knew he was not up to the task. It was clear as day to anyone watching. He is just not the guy that is going to march you down the field and steal victory from the jaws of defeat. He is not a 2 Minute Offense” quarterback. The Rams knew it and dialed up massive pressure on him; they weren’t afraid of his arm at all.
No disrespect to Jimmy G or Purdy, but they are game managers, no matter what anybody tells you. They are not guys who are going to be able to clutch up late in the 4th quarter of a one-possession game and put the team on their backs.
As long as they are the 49ers’ quarterbacks, San Fran is not a team that is built and equipped to respond in these critical moments late in playoff games. When it’s tied late, or they’re down late, and they need to go 70-80 yards down the field on a scoring drive, they just can’t do it. We saw it in the Super Bowl against the Chiefs, we saw it in the NFC Championship game last year against the Rams. When you don’t have a playmaker at quarterback, you cannot win these games. Because eventually it’s going to come to a make-or-break moment where your quarterback has to lead you down the field on a scoring drive at the end of the game. And guys like Garoppolo and Purdy can’t do that. They just can’t; not against great competition late in the playoffs.
The Rams, meanwhile, did it twice in the postseason last year: they had a game-winning drive against the Bucs after blowing a 27-3 lead, they came back from down 10 in the 4th against the Niners as we just went over, and they had a come-from-behind drive to win the Super Bowl over the Bengals. That was why they went out and got Matthew Stafford. They knew they needed a dynamic playmaker at quarterback in order to win a Super Bowl–a guy who could lead them down the field in pivotal moments late in playoff games. Matthew Stafford is a “2 Minute Offense” type of quarterback. He can deliver in those moments.
Jimmy G and Purdy can get you a lead going into the 4th quarter. They can hand the ball off, distribute it to all your great weapons, and take care of the ball for about 3 quarters in these games. But when it gets tight, and the time comes for your quarterback to step up, put the team on his back, and carry them to victory, they can’t do it. Garoppolo and Purdy are not the guys who are going to pull a rabbit out of a hat late in a big game.
I have seen it too many times. I saw it with my Bears in 2006, when they went to the Super Bowl. They had one of the best defenses ever that year–and one of the best special teams, with Devin Hester. They had a good running game, they had really solid receivers–but they came up short in the Super Bowl against the Colts because they had Rex Grossman at quarterback.
Eventually some team with a better quarterback is going to get the best of you. That experience in 2006 has really ingrained it in my mind that you can only get so far in the NFL when you don’t have a great quarterback. You can have the superior roster, but if the other team has the better quarterback, that will more than make up for their overall roster talent deficit.
It’s time to get you a quarterback who can get it done in January, Kyle Shanahan.
You are never going to win that elusive Super Bowl until you do. You will always come up just short. I know Purdy got hurt in this game, but he was never going to win this game. If he stayed healthy the whole time, it would have probably ended similar to how that Rams game last year ended, or that Chiefs Super Bowl in 2019. The reason the Eagles were coming after Purdy so aggressively to start this game off was because they didn’t respect his arm; they were comfortable sending the house after him because they knew he wasn’t going to make them pay.
If San Fran had a quarterback like Brady or Rodgers, Philly would’ve respected that and played a bit more cautiously on defense.
No more messing around with Purdy, Garoppolo, or a project QB like Trey Lance. Let Garoppolo walk, get whatever you can for Lance in a trade, keep Brock Purdy around as your backup, and roll into next season with Tom Brady or Aaron Rodgers.
Maybe even Derek Carr.
It just has to be somebody other than Purdy, Garoppolo or Lance.
And a rookie QB in the draft is out of the question, as San Fran shouldn’t go down that road again, nor would they even be able to given that Bryce Young, Stroud and Levis will be taken by other teams. Anthony Richardson, don’t even think about it. He’s Trey Lance 2.0.
San Fran doesn’t have time to develop a rookie quarterback, even though the idea of finding a 12-year franchise quarterback in the draft is obviously highly appealing.
San Fran is ready to win right now. They have to go out and get an established quarterback with a proven track record so they can take the path the Rams took in 2021 with Stafford.
It has to be somebody from this list:
I have taken the liberty of crossing out all the quarterbacks who are not realistic options.
Mahomes, Herbert, Allen, Burrow, Lawrence and Hurts are not going anywhere. Zero chance. Locked down.
Kirk Cousins is probably staying in Minnesota, and even then, I don’t think he’s good enough.
Goff is locked up in Detroit, they love him there.
Geno Smith, not good enough. Great story, but not going to get you there.
Tua, you don’t want to go down that road. Plus I think he’s staying in Miami.
Russell Wilson is locked up, but you don’t want him anyway. Same with Dak Prescott and Kyler Murray.
Daniel Jones, Davis Mills, Matt Ryan, Mac Jones, Andy Dalton, Brissett, Tannehill, Garoppolo, Heinicke, Mariota, Wentz– none of them are good enough to get you where you want to go. Forget about them.
Zach Wilson? Lol.
There are only four viable names on this list: Tom Brady, Aaron Rodgers, Derek Carr and Lamar Jackson.
With Lamar, even though it seems like the bridge has been burnt with Baltimore, I still feel like they will find a way to bring him back and sign him to a long term contract. I don’t know, it feels like this drama with him is a big fugazi. If San Fran can somehow find a way to get him, then go for it. But I doubt he leaves Baltimore.
So that leaves Brady, Rodgers and Carr.
I don’t know if San Fran has enough assets to trade for Rodgers, plus the Packers have made it clear that they don’t want to send him to an NFC team, so San Fran might be SOL there.
It’s either Brady or Derek Carr, and they’d have to trade for Carr, so he’s less appealing. But the Raiders could always just cut him if they can’t find a trade partner, as they’d only have to take on like $5.6 million in dead money. So there’s a possiblity of getting Carr as a free agent, but that first requires him to be cut by Las Vegas.
I think it has to be Brady. He’s a free agent, he’s from the Bay Area, and it just feels he’s supposed to play for the 49ers.
Brady grew up rooting for the Niners. Joe Montana was his favorite player. It’s got to be him, man.
If Tom Brady doesn’t retire, and he is playing football next season, and he’s not on the San Francisco 49ers, that’s just malpractice by John Lynch and Kyle Shanahan, straight up.
They cannot go into yet another season with this star-studded roster yet have a game manager at quarterback. By now they should have ample evidence that this is not the way.
I know that in the NFL, it’s set up so that if you have a highly-paid quarterback, the rest of your roster suffers, but if you’re not paying your quarterback a ton of money, you are able to afford an elite roster, like the 49ers have. There’s a trade-off, and the only ways around it are if you have a great young QB on a rookie deal (like Philly), or you get a veteran who can still play but takes a discount on his contract in order to afford a great roster (like the Rams).
But San Fran has already tried the approach of a game manager QB with an elite roster. It’s not working. They have to try something different in 2023. They just have to.
They have now been to the NFC Championship three times in the past 4 seasons. They even got to the Super Bowl in 2019.
San Fran is right there. They are so close to winning a Super Bowl, but they just can’t get over the hump. The quarterback position is what’s holding them back.
John Lynch and Kyle Shanahan would be making a huge mistake if they do not try everything in their power to convince Tom Brady to come play for the Niners.
They need to be on the phone with him tonight, begging and pleading him to be their quarterback. Offer him whatever he wants, no questions asked. Apologize for passing on him in 2020. Apologize for not drafting him back in 2000, even though neither of them had anything to do with the San Francisco 49ers back then (Kyle Shanahan was probably still in high school and Lynch was playing for the Buccaneers). Apologize for it anyway.
Fall at Brady’s feet and beg for mercy if needed. If he wants you to sign Gronk, you do it. I’m sure Brady will be more than happy with Kittle, but my point is that they need to offer Brady a blank check. Whatever he wants, he’s got it.
Even if Tom Brady wants you to sign Antonio Brown (which would never happen), you sign that crazy-ass perverted criminal without a second thought and worry about the consequences later.
The 49ers need Tom Brady. The only way they can accept not getting him is if he says he’s going to just retire. But if I’m the 49ers, my mentality here is that Tom Brady either plays for us next season or he plays for nobody. We are not going to be outbid.
If San Fran goes into next season with Purdy, Garoppolo or Lance as their quarterback, that is a grave error. They have been down that road three times now in the past four seasons, and they know where it leads. Don’t go down it again.
I was going to use this next section to talk about the winning teams but I honestly think I’ve covered most of my thoughts on these games while I was discussing the losing teams.
I thought the Bengals should have won that game easily, but their depleted offensive line dragged them down, like a big-ass hole in a $10 million Palmer Johnson yacht.
As for the whole “Burrowhead” thing, and the Cincinnati mayor, I’m already sick of it. There is no team in the league that has less grounds to play the “we’re disrespected” card than the Kansas City Chiefs.
Oh, the team that had Tyreek Hill throwing up the deuces to opposing DBs, backflipping into the endzone, and never ONCE missing an opportunity to rub an opponent’s face in it? The team that did RING AROUND THE FUCKING ROSIE before a play just to show the Raiders how little respect they had for them?
I’m so sick of it. If the Chiefs really have a victim mentality, they have zero self-awareness. Total “main character” mindset, where everything I do is okay because I’m ME and I’m perfect in every way. The epitome of judging others based on their words and actions while judging yourself based on your intentions. “It’s okay when I do it, because I’m a good person!”
The Chiefs really have no idea how annoying all their hot-dogging is, do they? They have no idea that for the past 5 years they have been the single most disrespectful and showboaty team in the league, do they?
Whatever. They won, so they can talk all the shit they want.
As for the Eagles, I thought they were winning that game regardless. But I do want to add that I think people are kind of short-changing them here. People are saying they had the easiest road to a Super Bowl because they played against Daniel Jones, then Purdy and then Josh Johnson.
It’s fair to say that, but I think we should also mention that the Eagles knocked both Purdy and Johnson out of the game. They absolutely dominated that 49ers offensive line, which had been very good all season.
And the Eagles were able to run relatively well on that 49er defense, too. That was the #1 run defense in the league this year, and Philly ran the ball on them.
I don’t know how much you can really take from that game given that San Fran literally ran out of quarterbacks, but what I do know is that the Eagles have an absolutely ferocious pass rush, and they can run the ball on damn near anyone.
The Chiefs have a good defense, but it’s nowhere near as good as the Niner defense. It’s going to be much easier for the Eagles to move the ball on the Chiefs than it was for them to move the ball on the Niners.
With Mahomes being hobbled, and with the litany of injuries the Chiefs suffered in the game against Cincinnati, I see Philly winning the Super Bowl in a romp, honestly. Their pass rush is going to go crazy on Mahomes, their secondary is absurdly talented, and they are just going to control that line of scrimmage.
I don’t see the Chiefs being able to stop the Eagles run game, or cover their receivers. And I don’t see the Chiefs getting much going against this Eagles defense. The Bengals held them to 23 in Arrowhead. I don’t see the Chiefs scoring any more than that on the Eagles defense at a neutral site.
Philly is a damn superteam right now. They just have an absurd amount of talent.
They’ve got a top-5 tight end in Dallas Goedert. They’ve got two receivers who are not good but great in AJ Brown and Devonta Smith. They have a stable of running backs led by Miles Sanders, who is quietly a top-10 running back in the league. They’ve got the best offensive line in the league. The Chiefs have a great offensive line, but Philly’s is even better.
Philly also has the best defensive line in the league, too. The Chiefs have Chris Jones, and he’s an absolute monster. But the Eagles have an entire D-line full of studs: Haason Reddick, Fletcher Cox, Javon Hargave, Brandon Graham, Jordan Davis, Ndamukong Suh, Linval Joseph–it’s ridiculous how much talent they have on the defensive line.
And if that’s not enough, they have James Bradberry, Darius Slay, Avonte Maddox and CJ Gardner-Johnson in the secondary.
The Eagles are a legitimate All Star team.
This roster that Howie Roseman has built is just incredible. Absolute GM masterclass by him. He has built an absolute war machine of a team. It might be the best roster I’ve seen since the 2007 Patriots, to be honest. I’m sitting here trying to think of a team that has had this much talent on both sides of the ball, and I can’t come up with any other team at the moment.
They’re able to have a roster this loaded because they have a quarterback playing on a rookie deal, but unlike San Fran, Philly’s quarterback is not just a game manager. Jalen Hurts is a top-10 QB in the league. I have him in the top-5 personally. He hasn’t been 100% for a while, but he’s a warrior. He can run, he can throw, and he’s a leader of men.
I just don’t think there’s any team in the league that matches up with this Eagles roster.
The Chiefs are ravaged by injuries, and honestly I could see this game going a lot like the Buccaneers-Chiefs Super Bowl a couple years ago, where Tampa won 31-9 and Kansas City just never stood a chance because of all the injuries they had at offensive line.
I’m going to hold off on making a prediction for this game because I’m going to wait and see how things unfold over the next couple of weeks, specifically as it pertains to the Chiefs’ injuries, but I don’t think there’s anything that will change my mind here. I’m leaning heavily towards the Eagles to the extent that I think they win by 2-3 touchdowns.
Philly is just so loaded up with talent that I don’t see how they lose. It’s what I said about the NFC Championship Game: I just didn’t see any way Philly lost that game. The 49ers have an awesome roster, but the Eagles’ roster is probably even better, plus they have a way better quarterback. The Chiefs-Bengals game I was like 60% sure the Bengals were going to win, but with the Eagles-Niners game, I was like 95% sure the Eagles were going to win.
With the Super Bowl, I’m like 80% sure the Eagles will win. If they turn the ball over a ton, they could lose.
But if Philly plays even an A- or B+ game, I think they win this game fairly handily. If they play an A+ game, they win it by 3 touchdowns.
That’s my initial lean on this game. Philly is just so obscenely talented that I don’t see how they lose to the Chiefs. Even if the Chiefs were 100%, I would still take Philly because they have so much more roster talent.
Even if Jalen Hurts has a bad game throwing the ball, he is still a threat to run the ball, and the Eagles have such a dominant run game they can win it that way. I wouldn’t be shocked if Philly runs for 250+ yards in this game.
It is not very often that a team has both the best offensive line in the league and the best defensive line in the league, but this Eagles squad does, and that’s not even the half of it.
The Eagles feel like the Alabama or Georgia of the NFL–like I didn’t know it was even possible to accumulate this much talent in a professional sports league with a salary cap and free agency. I thought the only way you could acquire this much talent was if you were a college program with Nick Saban or Kirby Smart and you just clean up in recruiting.
I really do think the Chiefs are going to run into a buzzsaw here.
The line opened as a pick ’em, then it quickly moved to Eagles -2.5. I think Philly is a clear favorite here, and I would not be surprised if this line moves even further towards them.