Mon Jan 30 5:59am ET
By ROB MAADDI
AP Pro Football Writer
Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Jalen Hurts, left, offensive tackle Lane Johnson (65) and teammates react after the NFC Championship NFL football game between the Philadelphia Eagles and the San Francisco 49ers on Sunday, Jan. 29, 2023, in Philadelphia. The Eagles won 31-7. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)
Kansas City Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce, left, and teammate quarterback Patrick Mahomes celebrate after the NFL AFC Championship playoff football game against the Cincinnati Bengals, Sunday, Jan. 29, 2023, in Kansas City, Mo. The Chiefs won 23-20. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)
Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes celebrates after the NFL AFC Championship playoff football game against the Cincinnati Bengals, Sunday, Jan. 29, 2023, in Kansas City, Mo. The Chiefs won 23-20. (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson)
Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Jalen Hurts, center, reacts while speaking toTerry Bradshaw, left, after the NFC Championship NFL football game between the Philadelphia Eagles and the San Francisco 49ers on Sunday, Jan. 29, 2023, in Philadelphia. The Eagles won 31-7. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)
PHILADELPHIA (AP) Black quarterbacks have come a long way in the NFL since Fritz Pollard became the first to play in the league in 1923 and Doug Williams was the first to start and win a Super Bowl following the 1987 season.
Now, Patrick Mahomes and Jalen Hurts will be the first Black QBs to face off in a Super Bowl.
It's fitting that a season which began with 11 Black QBs starting in Week 1 will end with a historic matchup.
Mahomes can become the first two-time winner if he leads the Kansas City Chiefs to victory over the Philadelphia Eagles on Feb. 12. Hurts aims to become the fourth Black QB to win the Super Bowl, joining Williams, Mahomes and Russell Wilson.
Steve McNair, Colin Kaepernick, Cam Newton and Wilson also started in the Super Bowl and lost.
Michael Vick was the first Black QB selected No. 1 overall in the draft in 2001. McNair became the first Black QB to win MVP in 2003. Mahomes and Lamar Jackson won it back-to-back years.
They all had to overcome stereotypes to get to this point.
Jackson said a scout from the Los Angeles Chargers asked him to run routes at the NFL combine in 2018. The Baltimore Ravens ended up selecting him with the 32nd pick in the first round and he was MVP in his second season.
Donovan McNabb, a six-time Pro Bowl QB who started five NFC championship games for the Eagles, was told by some college scouts that he had to play running back or wide receiver. He wouldn't switch positions, went to Syracuse to play quarterback and was drafted No. 2 overall in 1999 by Philadelphia.
Hurts began his NFL career in 2020 as an all-purpose QB after the Eagles took him in the second round. Playing behind Carson Wentz, Hurts had 12 rushing attempts, one catch and threw just three passes in his first nine games before taking over as Philadelphia's QB.
He clearly has not forgotten that the decision to draft him in the second round of the 2020 draft was widely criticized by reporters and fans.
''My first year here, (people) probably didn't even want to draft me here,'' Hurts said Sunday. ''It was probably one of those things. But it always handles itself.''
Neither Hurts nor Mahomes celebrated their conference championship wins too much. The main goal remains ahead. They each want one more win.
Hurts puffed a victory cigar after the Eagles routed the San Francisco 49ers 31-7 but he showed little emotion, per usual, in his postgame news conference.
''I don't really know how to feel to be honest. You work really hard to put yourself in this position and I'm forever grateful,'' Hurts said. ''Only God knows the things that each individual on this team has been able to overcome for us to come together as a team and do something special as a group. That's what means the most. I always want to go out there and give my best regardless of what's going on because I don't want to let down the guy next to me. That makes us all go harder.''
Hurts, a finalist along with Mahomes for AP NFL MVP and Offensive Player of the Year, missed two games late in the season with a shoulder injury. The Eagles haven't had to lean on him in two lopsided playoff wins. He has only 275 yards passing and two TDs along with 73 yards rushing and two scores.
''I know I've been through a lot personally, but I don't want to steer away from the direction of how good this team has been at playing together, being together, and challenging one another,'' Hurts said. ''When we experience some painful times and some tough times, we always found a way to overcome. You want to be going into a situation like this, and we have a chance to go out there and win it all, so we want to prepare to go do that.''
Mahomes battled through an ankle injury to help the Chiefs beat the Cincinnati Bengals 23-20 to advance to their third Super Bowl appearance in four years.
He had no intention of lighting up a victory cigar after a hard-fought win.
''I don't think we have any cigars, but we'll be ready to go at the Super Bowl,'' Mahomes said, poking fun at Joe Burrow's penchant for puffing those after big wins.
Only one QB can win the Super Bowl. Whether it's Hurts or Mahomes, it's another victory for the Black QBs who were overlooked throughout the years.
Championship Round Preview
The Philadelphia Eagles defense yielded seven points to San Francisco, generated three sacks, and forced three turnovers during the team's 31-7 victory. The lone touchdown the team gave up was to all-star running back Christian McCaffrey. The Eagles forced three fumbles and recovered all of them in this contest, with the first causing an injury to the elbow of starting quarterback Brock Purdy. Backup Josh Johnson played a few series after this before suffering a concussion on a sack, forcing the injured Purdy back into the game without being able to throw downfield. Philadelphia's defense held up after this and ended the day with the top fantasy performance of all defenses during Conference Championship Weekend. Even against Patrick Mahomes in two weeks during the Super Bowl, the Eagles' defense will be the favorite option for many playing DFS.
Philadelphia Eagles kicker Jake Elliott nailed his only field goal attempt from 31 yards away and converted four extra points during the team's 31-7 victory over the San Francisco 49ers. Philadelphia took the game over once 49ers quarterback Brock Purdy (elbow) suffered an injury on a fumble. After this, backup Josh Johnson was taken off the field after suffering a concussion, forcing the injured Purdy to play. The Eagles were not their usual aggressive selves after this but still found the end zone when in scoring range four times. It led to just one field goal attempt for the 28-year-old and another mediocre fantasy performance. He will have a chance to have a better performance in two weeks against Kansas City in the Super Bowl, but Harrison Butker will be the favorite for most in DFS lineups.
Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver DeVonta Smith caught 2-of-3 targets and gained 36 yards during the team's 31-7 victory over the San Francisco 49ers. It was a quiet night for all Eagles receivers, as the team elected to run the ball at a high rate, especially once they were up by two scores over the No. 1 defense in the NFL. The 24-year-old made a controversial 29-yard grab on the game's first drive, putting the Eagles inside the 10-yard line. Philadelphia will now meet the Kansas City Chiefs in the Super Bowl in two weeks in what will potentially be a shootout. Smith will be one of the most popular wide receivers in DFS lineups and should be more involved against a Chiefs secondary that has struggled to stop opposing wide receivers this past season.
Philadelphia Eagles tight end Dallas Goedert caught 5-of-6 targets and gained 23 yards during the team's 31-7 victory over the San Francisco 49ers. The 28-year-old led the team in receptions during what was a quiet night for the entire Eagles' passing attack. Goedert has now accumulated 10 receptions on 11 targets over the past two weeks and will face a Kansas City Chiefs defense that gave up the 10th-most fantasy points per game to the tight end position in two weeks during the Super Bowl. While Travis Kelce will be the clear top option for those playing in DFS tournaments in two weeks, Goedert will be a cheaper and viable option for those who want to spend up at other positions.
Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver A.J. Brown caught 4-of-8 targets and gained 28 yards during the team's 31-7 victory over the San Francisco 49ers. Philadelphia got the 25-year-old involved early, peppering him with targets on the opening drive. The problem was that this game got out of hand quickly. The 49ers lost quarterback Brock Purdy to an elbow injury, then had to put him back in after backup Josh Johnson suffered a concussion. Philadelphia did not stay on the attack through the air often after they were up by two scores, leading to a quiet day for the entire Philadelphia receiving corps. There was no sulking by Brown in this contest, especially after leading the team's receivers in targets by a wide margin. The fourth-year receiver will be in most DFS lineups in two against a Kansas City secondary that has struggled at times to stop the pass this season.
Philadelphia Eagles running back Miles Sanders took 11 carries for 42 yards and two touchdowns, adding one reception for three yards, during the team's 31-7 victory over the San Francisco 49ers. The Eagles' offense tallied just 269 yards of total offense against the No. 1 defense in the NFL, but they were able to capitalize on short field and turnovers, scoring four times in total on the ground. Sanders accounted for two of these scores and ended the night with a solid fantasy performance. Teammate Kenneth Gainwell has seen more usage in the playoffs, gained more yards, and securing more carries than Sanders against San Francisco. However, the 25-year-old Eagles starting back will have a much easier time running the ball against Kansas City in the Super Bowl than he did against San Francisco this past weekend and will be in plenty of DFS lineups in two weeks.
Philadelphia Eagles running back Kenneth Gainwell took 14 carries for 48 yards and two receptions on three targets for a gain of 26 yards during the team's 31-7 victory over the San Francisco 49ers. While the 23-year-old led the team in rushing last week during the divisional round, it was built on the back of garbage time carries at the end of the fourth quarter when Philadelphia's victory was already secured. This week, Gainwell was given carries throughout the entire game and ended the night with three more than starting back Miles Sanders. Sanders did find the end zone twice in this game, but it is clear Philadelphia wants to get Gainwell more touches moving forward. The second-year back will be a viable FLEX option in the Super Bowl against Kansas City and has the chance to break off a long touchdown run at any point, especially with more carries going his way.
Kansas City Chiefs wide receiver Marquez Valdes-Scantling stepped up on Sunday with numerous injuries to other receivers on the team, catching six passes for 116 yards and a touchdown while sharing the team lead in targets with eight. The yardage total was his highest as a Chief. If the Chiefs can get healthy by the Super Bowl, MVS will likely see a reduction in his production, but there's the possibility that he'll be forced into a larger role again.
Kansas City Chiefs wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster suffered a knee injury in Sunday's AFC Championship Game. He finished the game with just one catch for seven yards. The former Steelers wideout has now finished with 35 yards or less in five consecutive games, so even if he's good to go in time for the Super Bowl, his recent production hasn't been encouraging. Keep an eye on the injury report to see which way Smith-Schuster trends over the next two weeks.
Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Jalen Hurts completed 15-of-25 passes for 121 yards, gained 39 yards on 11 carries, and scored a rushing touchdown during the team's 31-7 victory over the San Francisco 49ers. The third-year quarterback did not need to do much at all in this game, as Philadelphia dominated the 49ers' defense on the ground and had the game well in hand entering the second half. The aggressive nature of the Eagles' offense dissipated after San Francisco was down two scores and needed to trot out an injured Brock Purdy (elbow), who could not push the ball downfield. This, coupled with a heavy pass rush and coverage that exceeded expectations coming into the game, led to a disappointing stat line for the 24-year-old. However, Hurts should have a much better fantasy performance against the Kansas City defense in the Super Bowl. Many playing in DFS lineups will start Patrick Mahomes over Hurts, but the Eagles starting quarterback is still a viable option between the two that could finish with more points.
Kansas City Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce (back) was a game-time decision for Sunday's AFC Championship Game against the Cincinnati Bengals, but he suited up and ended up leading the team in receptions, catching seven passes for 78 yards and a touchdown. Kelce has been quarterback Patrick Mahomes' top weapon all season long, so it's not a shock to see him continue to look Kelce's way, even with Kelce banged up a little bit. Kelce will be an elite DFS option against the Philadelphia Eagles in the Super Bowl.
Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes looked impacted at times by the ankle sprain he suffered last week against the Jaguars, but he still managed to go 29-for-43 for 326 yards with a pair of touchdowns while also adding eight rushing yards, including a five-yard scamper that helped set up the game-winning field goal as the Chiefs took down the Cincinnati Bengals in the AFC Championship Game. Mahomes will have another two weeks now to rest up before the Super Bowl meeting with the Eagles, so expect to see him look much closer to 100% for that contest.
Kansas City Chiefs running back Isiah Pacheco saw a lot of usage in Sunday's AFC Championship Game win over the Bengals, with 10 carries and five receptions. He didn't produce a ton on the ground as he finished with just 26 rushing yards, but that was enough to lead the team, as the rest of the Chiefs combined for 10 carries and 16 yards. The passing game was there Pacheco made a real impact, as he turned his five catches into 59 yards. He likely won't get quite as much usage against the Eagles in the Super Bowl, but it's an encouraging sign to see how much more usage he had than the team's other running backs.
Cincinnati Bengals kicker Evan McPherson made both of his field goal attempts during the AFC Championship loss to the Kansas City Chiefs on Sunday night. The 23-year-old remained perfect in the postseason, extending his streak to 19 successful field goal attempts. While McPherson took a step back this season to a degree, he'll draw plenty of attention from fantasy managers heading into the 2023-24 campaign.
Cincinnati Bengals tight end Hayden Hurst finished with four catches for 37 yards during the AFC Championship loss to the Chiefs. The 29-year-old scored a touchdown against the Bills in the divisional round. While he came close to another one on Sunday night, he ultimately fell short. Hurst finished the regular season with 52 receptions for 414 yards and two touchdowns. Although he failed to live up to expectations in some ways, he may have done enough to earn himself another deal with the Bengals heading into the 2023-24 campaign. However, Hurst's fantasy stock will be limited until he proves he can be a consistent contributor.
Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver Tyler Boyd (thigh) finished with two catches for 40 yards in Sunday's loss to the Kansas City Chiefs. The veteran looked good early in this one. However, he suffered a left thigh injury in the second quarter, so he was a non-factor for the remainder of the night. The 29-year-old finished the regular season with 58 receptions for 762 yards and five touchdowns. While the duo of Tee Higgins and Ja'Marr Chase will continue to limit Boyd's ceiling as long as he stays in Cincinnati, he'll remain a flex option in deep fantasy setups heading into the 2023-24 campaign, barring a severe injury to his leg.
Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver Ja'Marr Chase finished with six receptions for 75 yards during the AFC Championship loss to the Kansas City Chiefs. The former LSU Tiger found the end zone in five of his previous six games entering this one. However, he played second fiddle to Tee Higgins, who led the Bengals in receiving on the night. Chase missed time throughout the year because of a hip injury. Yet, he still had 1,046 yards and nine touchdowns off a career-high 87 catches. Although Justin Jefferson is the consensus overall top fantasy wideout, Chase may surpass him for that spot by the end of the 2023-24 campaign, especially with Joe Burrow as his quarterback.
Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver Tee Higgins finished with six catches for a team-high 83 yards during the loss to the Chiefs in the AFC Championship. He also scored a touchdown, pulling in a 27-yard pass from Joe Burrow in the third quarter. After struggling throughout the first two games of the postseason, Higgins finally got it together. However, it wasn't enough, as the Bengals fell short of their second consecutive Super Bowl appearance. Overall, the 24-year-old had a fantastic season, amassing 74 receptions for a career-high 1,029 yards and seven touchdowns. Although Ja'Marr Chase will continue to take away targets from Higgins moving forward, he'll still be a highly coveted option in every fantasy draft heading into the 2023-24 campaign.
Cincinnati Bengals running back Samaje Perine finished with five carries for 22 yards in Sunday's loss to the Chiefs. He also scored a touchdown, finding the end zone early in the fourth quarter, and had three catches for four yards. The 27-year-old looked better than Joe Mixon, who had eight attempts for a measly 19 yards. Perine arguably had the best season of his career, amassing 394 rushing yards and a career-high 38 catches for 287 yards for six total scores. At this rate, he's done enough to earn a more prominent role regardless of where he lands next season. However, if he remains in Cincinnati, he could see enough touches throughout the year to severely jeopardize Mixon's fantasy potential.
Cincinnati Bengals running back Joe Mixon was a non-factor in Sunday's loss to the Kansas City Chiefs. The former sooner carried the ball only eight times, three more than Samaje Perine, and totaled just 19 yards while adding three catches for 15 yards. Mixon looked fantastic in the win over the Buffalo Bills in the divisional round. However, he didn't get anything going in the AFC Championship, ceding carries and a touchdown to Perine. Mixon finished the regular season with 210 carries for 814 yards. He also combined for nine touchdowns, seven less than the 2021-22 campaign. As a result, the 26-year-old will be hard to trust heading into next season, especially if Perine remains on the team. But even if Perine doesn't stay in Cincy, Mixon's fantasy stock may plummet throughout the offseason.