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Irish Independent
Irish Independent
Shane Brennan

Super Bowl hopes rest on the sore shoulders of quarterback Jalen Hurts for the Philadelphia Eagles

Patrick Mahomes is shrugging off the pain to face the Bengals in the AFC Championship game

Both of the home teams – and de facto favourites – in this weekend’s Conference Championship games have their hopes resting on injured quarterbacks.

While Kansas City superstar Patrick Mahomes is carrying an injured ankle into their AFC Championship clash, Jalen Hurts of the Philadelphia Eagles seems to be living up to his name at the tail end of the season.

He missed two games in the regular season last month and doubts linger as to whether problems with his right shoulder may dampen the Eagles’ chances against the red-hot San Francisco 49ers in the NFC Championship game.

Hurts is one of the most challenging quarterbacks a defensive unit can face, as he is skilled at both passing and rushing, earning him a nod as a nominee for Most Valuable Player for the 2022-’23 season. And despite his injury, he still put in a dominant performance last week when dispatching the New York Giants 38-7. But the 49ers defence has very few weaknesses and will aim to expose the doubts over Hurts to build a psychological edge in front of the tough Philly crowd.

But at the same time, San Francisco are wary of a chink in their armour, defending against a mobile quarterback who can move quickly and run through gaps.

“I think we got tested in that [Las Vegas] Raiders game, kind of unexpectedly,” defensive end Nick Bosa said on Wednesday of facing a mobile quarterback.

“It reminded us of what our kryptonite could be in the way we play.”

Raiders quarterback Jarrett Stidham rushed seven times for 34 yards in that Week 17 match-up that ended in an overtime win for San Francisco – not spectacular, but it gives the Eagles some hope. And Hurts is confident he is up to standard.

“I’ve felt better, but it doesn’t really matter,” Hurts said. “I try and set the pace ... I’ve got to get it done.”

NFL Championship Weekend

San Francisco 49ers @ Philadelphia Eagles, tomorrow, 8.0
Cincinnati Bengals @ Kansas City Chiefs, tomorrow, 11.30

Both live on Sky Sports

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