As a former college coach who was one game away, 1 point away from playing for the National Championship, The Final Four weekend in football is very emotional for me. No matter what the team, I always feel bad for who ever loses. The stat of the weekend… Tom Brady has won 5 Super Bowls. The other three quarterbacks, Case Keenum, Nick Foles and Blake Bortles have 5 combined playoff starts.
AFC Championship: Sunday Jan 21st 3:05 PM.
(10-6) Jacksonville Jaguars vs. (13-3) New England Patriots.
The Jaguars shocked the world last week by defeating the Pittsburgh Steelers 45-42. As Impressive as that road victory was, they still gave up 42 points. Blake Bortles was efficient. He was 14 for 26 for 214 yards and 1 touchdown pass. Leonard Fournette had 109 yards and 3 touchdowns before leaving the game with a slight injury. Going into the game against the Steelers, Jacksonville was ranked #1 in the NFL against the pass. They gave up 469 passing yards and 5 touchdown passes to Ben Roethlisberger. It was an ugly game defensively, but in the playoffs, it is about surviving and advancing.
The Patriots beat a bad Tennessee Titan team 35-14. After trailing the Titans 7-0, the Patriots scored 28 straight points, including 21 in the 2nd quarter. Tom Brady threw for 337 yards and 3 touchdowns. 7 Patriots caught passes including Danny Amendola who had 11 catches for 112 yards. In the victory, the Pats only gave up 65 rushing yards. It was a dominant performance from start to finish.
The Patriots are playing in their 7th straight AFC Championship Game. Their offense is clicking on all cylinders and their depth at every position is a credit to this organizations use of draft picks and free agent pickups. Back up running back James White had two touchdowns in last week’s contest. The Jaguars were able to outscore the Steelers. The only way for them to win is to do that against New England. If they gave up 42 points to “Big Ben” How many points will the give up to Brady at home?
I don’t see this as high scoring as the Pittsburgh game, but I expect New England to lead at halftime and come out and dominate the 2nd half. Does anyone really think Blake Bortles can outgun Tom Brady? If the Jags had an elite defense they might have a chance. Denver did this in 2016 when the beat the Patriots and went on to win the Super Bowl. The Jags are not the Broncos of a few years ago. Look for the Pats to rush for over 100 yards and the dream season end for the Jags…Pats win 38-24.
NFC Championship Game: Sunday Jan. 21st 6:40 PM.
(13-3) Minnesota Vikings vs. (13-3) Philadelphia Eagles.
When was the last time, in the history of the NFL that two teams made it to a conference championship game with their back up quarterbacks and new starting running backs from the beginning of the season?
The Vikings plan was for Teddy Bridgewater to come back from injury and have a dynamic young backfield with Bridgewater at the QB position and RB, Dalvin Cook. They now have journeymen, Keenum under center and Latavius Murray, who had 8 touchdown runs on the season.
The Eagles started the season with Carson Wentz and LeGarrette Blount. They now have Nick Foles and Jay Ajayi. The Vikings enter this game riding high. On the last play of the game, Keenum hit a wide open Stefon Diggs for a 61-yard touchdown pass with no time left. Minnesota beat the Saints 29-24. The Eagles won a very close game defeating the Falcons 15-10.
With Carson Wentz out of the lineup these two teams are very similarly matched. They don’t want to make mistakes on offense and they want to get the opposing teams QB, in 3rd and log situations. The Eagles defense is #1 against the run and 4th overall. The Vikings defense is 1st overall and ranked 2nd against the run and 2nd against the pass. Both teams want to establish the run to be successful.
If you look at the skill positions on offense, the Eagles have a little more depth. I think their coaching staff will put Foles in a position where he will feel comfortable and be able to make just enough plays.
Take the Eagles here in somewhat of an upset 20-16.
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