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In sports, you can only play the opponent in front of you. That means that even if the other team’s fourth-string quarterback gets knocked out of commission in the game of the year, a win is still a win. Sure, the NFC Championship Game matchup of the two best teams in the conference didn’t live up to the hype due to injuries. And the Philadelphia Eagles’ victory over the San Francisco 49ers is tainted because of that. For the Eagles players heading to the Super Bowl and their fans getting ready to watch their team possibly hoist a second Lombardi Trophy in five years, none of that matters.

The Eagles beat the 49ers easily in the NFC Championship Game

Philadelphia Eagles, NFC Championship game, Super Bowl
(L-R) DeVonta Smith, Jalen Hurts, and A.J. Brown | Kevin Sabitus/Getty Images

The 49ers came into the NFC Championship Game against the Eagles with their third-string quarterback, Brock Purdy — the last pick in the 2022 NFL Draft — as the starter.

That’s just football.

Purdy was excellent taking over for Jimmy Garoppolo this season (who took over for Trey Lance this season), going 7-0 in his first seven starts, including two playoff wins. Football is a “next man up” sport, and nowhere is that truer than in the NFL.

By the time the Eagles and 49ers got to the NFC Championship Game, the Niners were at full strength, despite having “Mr. Irrelavant” as their QB.

That said, when you get down to your third-string QB as your playoff starter, you better pray that he doesn’t go down. And, unfortunately for 49ers fans, that’s exactly what happened when Purdy went out with an elbow injury. Josh Johnson, who’s played for 14 different NFL teams and signed with the 49ers on December 4 (for the fourth time in his career), took over.

And it got worse from there.

Johnson went out with a concussion in the second quarter with the 49ers down 21-7. With Purdy back in and (mostly) unable to throw, the game was over at that point.

The heavyweight title fight in the NFC Championship game that should have been Ali-Frazier turned into Tyson-McNeeley. That made for a tainted Eagles victory. However, this easy Eagles win does nothing to change the fact that the Eagles should be the favorite in the Super Bowl.

Philadelphia should be the favorite over the AFC champion 

The Eagles were the best team in the NFL this season and only truly stumbled late when QB Jalen Hurts went out for two games with a shoulder injury.

Heading to the Super Bowl, the Eagles are now nearly as healthy as they were early in the season. Right tackle Lane Johnson is still a little banged up (groin), and left guard Landon Dickerson left the NFC Championship Game with an apparent right arm injury. The good news is Hurt’s shoulder looks as good as always, and the Eagles now have another bye week before the Big Game.

Health aside, the most complete team left in the NFL playoffs is the Eagles.

Joe Burrow is playing behind a makeshift offensive line, and Patrick Mahomes is playing on a bum ankle. Neither of those things are good facing an Eagles defense with 70 sacks on the season, which is the third-most in NFL history.

On offense, the Eagles can beat you any way you like. Philly has run for 416 yards in two playoff games this season, and A.J. Brown and DeVonta Smith haven’t yet made their marks on this postseason, despite being one of (if not) the best wide receiver duos in the NFL right now.

The Eagles-49ers NFC Championship Game may not have lived up to the hype, but if that leads to a Super Bowl victory for the “E-A-G-L-E-S, Eagles!” no one who loves the club will care.