The NFC championship game between the Philadelphia Eagles and the San Francisco 49ers is set to kick off this Sunday as the two deepest teams in the league will go toe-to-toe for a shot to advance to the Super Bowl. In highly anticipated games like this, the quarterback matchup typically hogs the spotlight. However, there’s another matchup in this contest that will be nearly as intriguing, the one on the right side of Philly’s O-line featuring Lane Johnson and Nick Bosa.
When these two teams take the field, the best right tackle in the league will square up against the future NFL Defensive Player of the Year. Johnson has shown no signs of aging in his 10th NFL season, but the veteran OT recently returned to the field after suffering a groin injury. Meanwhile, Bosa wreaked havoc with 18.5 sacks and 48 QB hits during the 2022 season and is a shoo-in for the DPOY award.
How quarterbacks Jalen Hurts and Brock Purdy perform this weekend could be the biggest factor in this game, but this contest could also be decided by the winner of one of the most anticipated OL vs DL matchups of the year. So which player holds the advantage this week?
Lane Johnson is playing elite football for the Eagles
Being the competitor that he is, Lane Johnson was able to shrug off surgery and returned for the divisional round of the playoffs against the New York Giants. Prior to this, Johnson had missed the final two games to close out the regular season after suffering what was labeled as an adductor injury that popped up in Week 16 against the Dallas Cowboys.
Johnson was able to fight through the groin injury, though he was clearly in pain at times last week. However, the fierce competitor didn’t allow this to affect his play, as he and the Eagles offensive line bullied the Giants last weekend.
Now Johnson gets his biggest test of the season against the best the league has to offer in Nick Bosa. If he’s hampered at all by the injury, this won’t be easy.
49ers Nick Bosa was held in check last week
As outstanding as Nick Bosa has been this year, he wasn’t able to make the impact we are used to seeing in the divisional round against the Cowboys. Tyron Smith mostly held him in check last week — forcing other members of the 49ers defensive front to step up and make plays. Bosa finished the game with just 2 total tackles and 1 quarterback hit.
If he can be held in check again this week against the Eagles, this likely means that Jalen Hurts will have a clean pocket to work with and Philly will have a great chance of pulling this one off. However, it’s hard to keep a great player down in back-to-back weeks. Bosa has the ability to be a game-wrecker on any given play.
Johnson holds an edge over Bosa in the NFC championship game
If Nick Bosa thought he had it tough against Tyron Smith last week, wait until he goes up against Lane Johnson in the championship game. Injury and all, Johnson is still arguably the best offensive tackle in the league, and Bosa hasn’t faced a better tackle in his career.
Assuming that Johnson hasn’t suffered a setback with the adductor injury, there’s no reason to think that he won’t bully the man in front of him like he always does — even if that player is the future DPOY. At worst, the Eagles can slide some protection his way if they feel it’s needed. This is a high-importance matchup that I would expect Lane Johnson to win in the end.