Championship Sunday Questions

01/24/2023 Championship Sunday Questions

By: Jeff Yoder

Answering the Biggest Questions & Concerns for Each Team in the NFC & AFC Title Games


Four teams are still alive in the NFL postseason, and each has big questions heading into Championship Sunday. All four teams have recent success and enough of a resume to make their case for Super Bowl LVII. The 49ers are in the NFC title game for the third time in four years, while the Eagles are 15-1 when Jalen Hurts plays. The Bengals were in the Super Bowl a year ago, and the Chiefs are the host team in the AFC finale for the fifth straight time. From Patrick Mahomes’ health status to Brock Purdy’s readiness for the big moment, here are the biggest questions that need to be answered on Sunday.


Chiefs: Will Mahomes Be 100%?

The Chiefs offense is a juggernaut, but the health status of Patrick Mahomes is the biggest question mark this weekend. Mahomes suffered a high-ankle sprain in last week’s win over the Jaguars. He played through it, and he’s proven to be a magician when it comes to big moments. All signs point to him playing on Sunday. But will he be 100 percent? If the answer is no, and Mahomes’ mobility becomes a factor, advantage Bengals. If the answer is yes, it’s a shootout.


Bengals: Can The Defense Do It Again?

By now, everyone knows Joe Burrow will bring his A-game when the lights are the brightest. There’s no question the Bengals will put up points against the Chiefs defense. The question is whether or not the Bengals defense can stifle Kansas City the same way they did to Buffalo. The Cincinnati defense gave up 30 points just once all season, and they beat the Chiefs in their head-to-head matchup in early December (27-24). Can they hold Mahomes and the Chiefs’ scoring in the low-20s? If the answer is yes, the Bengals will have another shot at the Lombardi Trophy.


Eagles: Can The O-Line Stay Dominant?

Philadelphia has so many weapons at every position that it’s impossible to narrow down their success to the play of one unit. Jalen Hurts has proven to be a baller in big games, and the Eagles defense should bring the heat, but Philly’s unsung heroes reside on the offensive line. The best O-line in the NFL — headline by Jason Kelce and Lane Johnson supporting the league’s fiercest rushing attack — is how the Eagles live or die. The 49ers have a tough front seven, and how Philly’s veteran O-line performs will tell the tale. Can the O-line remain dominant against Nick Bosa and Fred Warner? If they can, then “Fly, Eagles, Fly.”


49ers: Will Purdy Survive the Pass Rush?

San Francisco enters Championship Sunday on a 12-game win streak behind a third-string quarterback, and there’s only one question to decide their Super Bowl fate — Brock Purdy. With a potent defense and weapons galore, the 49ers are stacked. However, their 23-year-old quarterback has yet to face the pressure of a road playoff game. He’ll get everything he can handle from the Eagles defensive line — a unit that nearly broke the NFL record for sacks in a season (70 total). Purdy has been great, but will he survive (and thrive) against the Philly pass rush? If the answer is yes, the Niners will have a “Purdy good” shot at Super Bowl LVII.


Additional Storylines

ESPN: Judging NFL Playoff Overreactions From the Divisional Round

CBS Sports: Early Look-Ahead to Championship Sunday: Schedule, Odds & More


Photo: Bryan M. Bennett / Getty Images