How Bears backup QB Chase Daniel saved Chicago in Week 4

0 Comments

Football needed Week 4. It was getting a little too easy for the Patriots and Chiefs. The Rams, Green Bay, Detroit, Dallas and Buffalo hadn’t lost yet, and you know how the NFL likes to pull the good teams to the middle. There was a lot of pulling this weekend.

What interested me about this weekend: how many depth players, forgotten players and emerging players, ruled the weekend. Such as Chicago backup quarterback Chase Daniel, who has started four games in a comfy 10-year career, saw Mitchell Trubisky get hurt 10 feet away from him three minutes into the Minnesota game. No time to warm up. Just time to lead the Bears on an immediate touchdown drive and, ultimately, win the game. It’s Daniel’s job now, with Trubisky out indefinitely with a left shoulder injury.

When I spoke with Chase Daniel, who’s never really had his 15 minutes of fame in a benchy decade in the NFL, I said, “Isn’t that what makes this fun? The unpredictability of it?”

Daniel, who turns 33 next week, was standing near coach Matt Nagy early in the first quarter, helping with personnel groups like he always does. In front of him, on a third down, Trubisky got sacked. He tried to get up, twice. He couldn’t. “I thought it might be a concussion,” Daniel said. Medics and Nagy checked on Trubisky, and Daniel figured he’d better start throwing.

“Chase, you’re in!” Nagy said to him seconds later.

Because it had been third down, Daniels started throwing with practice squad QB Tyler Bray as Trubisky came off. But he missed the penalty flag on Minnesota, giving the Bears a fresh set of downs.

“No! No!” a voice yelled. “We got the ball! You’re in NOW!”

The life of a backup. Huge division game between two 2-1 teams. No time to warm up.

“Mitch and I threw before the game, and not much time had passed, so I felt pretty good,” Daniel said. “It was fine. You’re excited, of course, and it happens all of a sudden. Matt was like, You know the offense. Just go out there and be you. He was super-positive the whole game.”

On the first series, on fourth-and-one from the Viking 43, Nagy called a sneak for Daniel, who liked the faith his coach had in him to get a yard. He got it. Daniel really liked it when Nagy, on a first down from the Viking 30, called a deep throw down the left side for Allen Robinson. Everyone in the quarterback room during the week thought it was a perfect call against the Minnesota defense, sure that Robinson could beat the coverage. He did. “I never repped it in practice,” Daniel said, “but I loved the call. We felt like it’d be a touchdown.” Robinson made it to the 5-yard line, and after a flag for a false start, Daniel led Tarik Cohen with a pass just over the line, and Cohen did the rest. The Bears were on their way, and Daniel (22 of 30, 195 yards one TD, no picks) was a huge reason.

“I’m about to turn 33,” Daniel said, “and I’ve been in it 11 years now. But I feel like I’m 25. And I love this offense. I feel the offense. This is my fifth or sixth year in it. I was in Kansas City, in Philadelphia, and it’s basically the same offense. Very quarterback-friendly. The quarterback’s a point guard out there. I’ve always felt I was an accurate passer, and not just dink-and-dunk. We took some shots out there today—that shot to Robinson on the first drive, and others.”

And now the reins of a very good team are Daniel’s. This is the first time in his life he’s been handed an NFL team to quarterback for any length of time, and he’s in a weird spot. He and Trubisky have become good friends. Daniel helps him ID coverages and trends between series during games. And he knows Trubisky has had his struggles. But in Daniel’s position, none of that matters now. He’s playing until they take him off the field. “I think Matt feels comfortable calling a game with me,” Daniel said. “Any time you get a chance to play, at least for me, it’s a great opportunity, especially with this defense. I’m thinking, Be aggressive, but take care of the football. All the other stuff, I’m aware of all the talk going on around town, and how outsiders view us, but I don’t care about it. For now, all I care about is going to London [Bears versus Raiders on Sunday in London] and keep the main thing the main thing. Worry about winning a game before our bye.”

NFL Conference Championship Picks: Predictions, betting favorites, best plays for 2023 AFC, NFC Championship games

0 Comments

The NFC and AFC Championship games this weekend feature the top seeds in one game and a rematch of last year’s conference title game in the other. Each matchup is rife with storylines and the sports books expect each game to be close. In fact, for just the third time in the Super Bowl era, neither Conference Championship game has a team favored by three points or more.

Jalen Hurts and the Philadelphia Eagles host Nick Bosa, Brock Purdy and the San Francisco 49ers on Sunday afternoon. Mike Shanahan and the 49ers have not lost since before Halloween while Nick Sirianni and the Eagles have lost just once this season with Jalen Hurts under center.

The AFC Championship game Sunday evening is, as mentioned, a rematch of last year’s game. Kansas City seeks revenge at home against Cincinnati after losing in OT last year. A win by Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs would send them to their third Super Bowl in the last four seasons. A win by Joe Burrow and the Bengals means back-to-back trips to the Super Bowl for Cincinnati and a shot at their first Super Bowl win in franchise history.

RELATED: 2023 NFL Playoffs AFC, NFC Championship Round Schedule

Our NFL staff at NBC Sports EDGE have done a deep dive into these games to find their favorite plays of Championship Sunday. They offer them on everything from sides and totals to player props. The group includes Jay Croucher (@croucherJD), Vaughn Dalzell (@VMoneySports), and Lawrence Jackson (@LordDontLose). Tail (or fade) as you see fit.

San Francisco 49ers vs Philadelphia Eagles -2.5 (Over/Under 46.5)

  • Kickoff: January 29 at 3:00 p.m. ET (FOX)
  • Site: Lincoln Financial Field – Philadelphia, PA
  • Philadelphia Playoff History: 24-24 (3 Super Bowl appearances, 1 win)
  • San Francisco Playoff History: 37-23 (7 Super Bowl appearances – 5 wins)
  • Series History: San Francisco leads the all-time series with Philadelphia having won 20 of the 35 meetings with one tie between the two. The Eagles have hosted 17 of the games with the 49ers claiming victory in 11 of those. These teams have met just once in the playoffs. Back in the 1996 NFC Wild Card Game (12/29/96) Jerry Rice and Steve Young each scored touchdowns to propel San Francisco to a 14-0 victory against Philadelphia.

Note: If the current line stands, this game will be the first in which Brock Purdy is the underdog. He is 6-1 ATS thus far in his young career. Jalen Hurts is 9-2-1 ATS as a home favorite in his career and a whopping 7-0 ATS as a single-digit favorite at Lincoln Financial Field.

Croucher: George Kittle OVER 3.5 Receptions and Miles Sanders UNDER 6.5 Receiving Yards

The Eagles concede an above-average amount of receptions to opposing tight ends, and in a game where the Niners will likely be throwing, expect Brock Purdy to target his favorite weapon.

Miles Sanders has gone under this number in five straight games, never topping one target in any of those games, and the Niners are elite at defending running backs in the passing game.

RELATED: What to know about Super Bowl 2023

Dalzell: Dallas Goedert UNDER 47.5 Receiving Yards (-115)

The 49ers have had the best defense against Tight Ends in the NFL for the last two seasons. Opposing Tight Ends as a unit average Under 40 yards per game against San Francisco yet books want Dallas Goedert to get almost 50 himself.

Last week against the Giants, Goedert caught five passes on five targets for 58 yards and a TD, so this line could be a little inflated. He went Under 47.5 yards in three out of four games to end the regular season.

There are so many options in this offense on the ground and through the air ranging from AJ Brown, DeVonta Smith, Miles Sanders, Kenneth Gainwell, Boston Scott, Zach Pascal, Quez Watkins and Goedert. I would play this down to 44.5 receiving yards.

After ripping off that long list of skill position players without even mentioning Jalen Hurts, you can understand why I am also leaning Eagles ML as well.

RELATED: 49ers Super Bowl history

Jackson: Eagles to win by 1-13 points (+310) and A.J. Brown most receiving yards (+210)

Go big or go home. What I saw in the 49ers/Cowboys’ game last week is a Dallas team that played more than good enough to win except at one position. Despite the turnovers and failure to capitalize on a turnover, the Cowboys lost to the 49ers by seven points. The Eagles’ defense is good enough to match what the Cowboys did against the 49ers especially when it comes to rushing the passer. Furthermore, do not expect the Eagles’ offense to be as careless and unprepared offensively as Dallas was against the best defense in football. If you like the Eagles to win, it only makes sense to sprinkle this in.

A.J. Brown only gathered in 22 yards of receptions last week as he frankly was not needed much against the Giants due to the Eagles’ success rushing the ball. Prior to that he had gone four straight games with at least 95 yards receiving. Earlier this week he made some (non-diva) comments about getting the ball and it should be his time against the 49ers. The Niners are the second-best run defense in football so the Eagles will (and can) get it done through the air. Look for the Eagles to flip the script on the game plan and do what works this week which means a solid day for Brown.

Cincinnati Bengals @ Kansas City Chiefs -1 (Over/Under 48)

  • Kickoff: January 29 at 6:30 p.m. ET (CBS)
  • Site: Arrowhead Stadium – Kansas City, MO
  • Kansas City Playoff History: 18-21 (2 Super Bowl wins – 4 Appearances)
  • Cincinnati Playoff History: 10-15 (3 Super Bowl appearances – 0 wins)
  • Series History: These two teams had never met in the postseason prior to last year’s AFC Championship Game. In that game the Bengals defeated the Chiefs in overtime by the score of 27-24. Cincinnati and Kansas City have met 31 times in the regular season with the Bengals having won 17 of the games.

Note: With the line shifting towards Kansas City, the Chiefs have now been favored in 15 straight playoff games. It is the longest streak by any team in the Super Bowl era. Patrick Mahomes has never been a playoff underdog. He is the first quarterback in the Super Bowl era to be favored in each of his first 13 playoff starts.

Croucher: Kansas City Chiefs ML (-115) and Jerick McKinnon Over 27.5 Rushing Yards (-115)

Coming into last week the Bills and Chiefs were rated as approximately equal, and the Bills closed 6-point favorites at home to Cincinnati. Naturally, Cincy’s impressive performance and the injury to Patrick Mahomes has to reduce the line significantly from -6 but going from -6 to Pk is an over-adjustment. The Chiefs should be 2-point favorites here.

Jerick McKinnon played 44 of 68 snaps last week and is more trusted in pass protection than Isiah Pacheco. A running back playing 65% of snaps in Kansas City’s offense should not be set as low as 27.5 rushing yards, particularly if Mahomes is limited.

RELATED: How to watch Cincinnati Bengals vs Kansas City Chiefs

Dalzell: Joe Burrow OVER 24.5 Completions (-122) and Kansa City Chiefs ML (-115)

Burrow completed 23 passes on 36 attempts last week and did not throw a pass from the 12-minute mark until the end of the game, hitting his Under 25.5 completions and 38.5 attempts, barely. I like Burrow to go over his 24.5 and 25.5 completions line in the AFC Championship as I do not expect Joe Mixon to recreate his 100-yard performance, which last week was only his second such outing of the season. At 23 completions in each of the two postseason games, expect that number to increase here.

For the game winner, I will take the Chiefs to extract revenge on the Bengals after losing the AFC Championship Game, 27-24 in OT last season. Patrick Mahomes is healthier than most expected entering this game.

Kansas City has a chance to reach the Super Bowl for the third time in four years, while Cincy is looking to make back-to-back trips to the Super Bowl. I think this line adjusting to a pick-em or -1 for Kansas City is incorrect. I would make this -3 to -3.5 for the Chiefs.

RELATED: Bengals Super Bowl history

Jackson: Isiah Pacheco OVER 47.5 rushing yards (-115) and Will the team that scores the first points win the game? NO (+140)

While the Bengals’ run defense is not a pushover, this prop is simply too low. Do not be fooled by the Bills’ lack of success on the ground last week against Cincinnati because they cannot run the ball against anyone. J.K. Dobbins was able to gain 62 yards on 13 carries against the Bengals in the Wildcard Round. The week prior, Kenyan Drake ran for 60 yards against the Bengals. Pacheco has gone over 55 rushing yards in nine of his last 10 games and should get enough carries to do so again. This one is not hard.

Let’s switch it up a bit and have a little fun for some plus money. The Bengals and Joe Burrow have won the last three games against Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs (including the playoffs). In only one of these games (Week 13 of the 2022 season) did the first team to score go on to win the game. Basically, when you have two juggernauts, it does not matter who scores first. Taking the team who scores first to win is currently set at -200 and not is worth that risk.

Enjoy the games and enjoy the sweat.

The team at NBC Sports EDGE has you covered with the latest in best plays and player news from Wild Card Weekend through to Super Bowl LVII. Now, all premium tools for Fantasy and Betting are included in one subscription at one low price. Customers can subscribe to NBC Sports EDGE+ monthly for $9.99. Click here to learn more!

2023 NFL Playoffs: Ranking potential Super Bowl LVII matchups

0 Comments

The 2023 NFL playoffs continue this Sunday, and Conference Championship weekend looks quite similar this year as it did in 2022. Three of the four teams that reached last year’s Super Bowl semis are back again this season – the Kansas City Chiefs, San Francisco 49ers and Cincinnati Bengals. The lone change is the top-seeded Philadelphia Eagles replacing the reigning champion Los Angeles Rams. With the NFC and AFC Championship Games rapidly approaching, let’s rank the four potential Super Bowl LVII Matchups:

RELATED: 2023 NFL Playoffs Schedule

Ranking potential Super Bowl LVII Matchups

1. Kansas City Chiefs vs Philadelphia Eagles

Chiefs head coach Andy Reid going up against his former team… yes please! The story writes itself! Reid spent his first 14 seasons as an NFL head coach in Philadelphia, and even led them to their first Super Bowl appearance back in the 2004 season. Reid and the Eagles fell short in that Super Bowl, but the future Hall of Fame head coach got his title in Kansas City 15 years later. How sweet would it be to see Reid and Patrick Mahomes earn their second Lombardi Trophy against the team where Reid made his name.

RELATED: 2023 NFL Playoffs scores

2. Kansas City Chiefs vs San Francisco 49ers

This would be a rematch of Super Bowl LIV from the 2019 season, which saw Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs overcome a 10-point 4th-quarter deficit to beat the 49ers 31-20 and bring Kansas City its first Lombardi Trophy. The Chiefs outscored the 49ers 21-0 in the 4th quarter of that Super Bowl win, something you know San Francisco head coach Kyle Shanahan wants to earn redemption for. 49ers quarterback Brock Purdy would become the first rookie to start a Super Bowl, assuming Jimmy Garoppolo isn’t back in the mix – is the moment too big for Mr. Irrelevant? Or will he continue to make history?

Also worth noting – the 49ers have won 12 straight games heading into the NFC Championship (it would be 13 if they reached the Super Bowl). Their last loss came in Week 7, when they fell 44-23 to none other than the Chiefs.

RELATED: PFT’s conference championship game picks

3. Cincinnati Bengals vs San Francisco 49ers

Cincinnati has been to the Super Bowl on three occasions in franchise history. They are 0-3 in those games, and are one of 12 active NFL franchises who have never won a Super Bowl. Last year, they lost 23-20 to the Rams in Los Angeles. Their other two appearances came in the 1981 and 1988 seasons. Both times, they to lost Bill Walsh’s 49ers in one-possession games. Joe Burrow keeps re-writing Bengals history, and he can cement his status as a Cincinnati legend if he can enact revenge on the 49ers in Super Bowl LVII.

Aside from that, who wouldn’t want to see Burrow, Joe Mixon, Ja’Marr Chase and Tee Higgins take on the NFL’s best defense. And you can’t forget about Brock Purdy, the 49ers’ 3rd string QB to start the season, looking to become the first rookie QB to win the Super Bowl.

RELATED: What to know about Super Bowl LVII

4. Cincinnati Bengals vs Philadelphia Eagles

Philadelphia has been the NFC’s top team all season, and with Jalen Hurts seemingly able to manage his shoulder injury, the Eagles’ offense is back to being one of the most exciting units in the NFL. On the flip side, all Joe Burrow and the Bengals do is show up when the lights are brightest. Can head coach Zac Taylor and Burrow lead Cincinnati to its first Super Bowl title? And you can’t forget the two best wide receiver duos in the game: AJ Brown and DeVonta Smith on one side, Ja’Marr Chase and Tee Higgins on the other.

Conference Championship Round Schedule:

Sunday, January 29

NFC Championship Game:

San Francisco 49ers vs Philadelphia Eagles – 3:00 p.m. ET on Fox

  • Where: Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

AFC Championship Game:

Cincinnati Bengals vs Kansas City Chiefs – 6:30 p.m. ET on CBS

  • Where: Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City, Missouri

 Follow along with ProFootballTalk for the latest news, storylines, and updates surrounding the 2023 NFL Playoffs, and be sure to subscribe to NFLonNBC on YouTube!