It started with 32 and now there are four. That’s right, the Conference title games are here and four teams remain as only two will have the opportunity to hoist the Lombardi trophy in Minneapolis.
“The newest “team of destiny,” the Minnesota Vikings, have one more hurdle to clear before b”ecoming the first team in NFL history to play in the Super Bowl in their home stadium, and that’s a road date with the Eagles in the NFC Championship Game. With the Eagles still sporting Nick Foles at QB, Minnesota enters as a 3.5-point road favorite according to the sportsbooks reviewed by MyTopSportsbooks.com. Bettors aren’t convinced that the Philly offense will be able to muster much against a Viking D that ranked first in the league in total yards and points allowed.
After shocking the Steelers as touchdown underdogs in the Divisional Round, the Jaguars are getting even less respect in the AFC Championship Game. The Patriots are currently 9.5-point favorites coming off a 35-14 rout of the Titans. It’s not hard to see why. One team has the NFL’s best offense, led by five-time Super Bowl champ Tom Brady at quarterback, the other has the enigmatic Blake Bortles, plus a supposedly-stingy defense that just gave up 42 points.”
So who will move onto Minneapolis?
Jacksonville Jaguars at New England Patriots
The New England Patriots have been home at Foxboro since the beginning of week 16. Which is roughly 33 days without having to travel anywhere. They’re rested, relaxed and pretty much healthy. There’s definitely some concern with Brady’s hand and his health. But you’d have to chop off his legs to not see him suit up Sunday.
Though, this is a tough game because for once, the Patriots are vulnerable. Their 29th ranked defense has been their Achilles heal this year. Now I know the respect for Blake Bortles isn’t there, but the way Leonard Fournette has been running the ball and how he ran last week; watch out.
As for Jacksonville they’re playing with a HUGE chip on their shoulder and despite giving up 42 points last week, they’re still a force to be reckoned with on defense. If you go back and look at the tape it’s no secret on how you beat Tom Brady. If you can get to him, and get sacks, knock him down and rattle him that’s how you win. Brady begins getting frustrated and now with a right hand injury, he begins thinking about it which leads to missed passes and interceptions.
My outlook: I love the Jagaurs this Sunday at +9.5 and I really even like them to win this game. IF the Jaguars can get to Brady and rattle him like I said that’ll be the key. But they’ll have to get a good performance out of Bortles who will have to be turnover free this Sunday as Belichick will likely focus in on Fournette. Remember the last time the Patriots faced the number one ranked AFC defense in the AFC Conference title game? They lost, 20-18.
Minnesota Vikings at Philadelphia Eagles
For the second week in a row, the number one seeded Eagles are underdogs at home. While I loved the money-line last week with Philadelphia as I thought that Vegas got it wrong with +3.5, I unfortunately for Eagles fan’s sake think Vegas got it right this week.
The way that the Vikings defense played in the first half against Drew Brees and the New Orleans Saints was crazy. The Saints couldn’t get anything going. But it was a different story in the second half as Brees and Sean Payton made it a game. A game that if rookie Marcus Williams makes a tackle, it’s the Saints playing in this game Sunday against the Eagles.
Yes, the Vikings aren’t at home and they’re on the road where they’ve struggled at times. But that was against quarterbacks Ben Roethlisberger and Cam Newton. The Vikings instead will get Nick Foles who hasn’t looked bad since filling in for Carson Wentz, but hasn’t looked good either.
My outlook: I honestly love the Vikings at -3.5 here. The best thing that could’ve happened to this Vikings team was what happened last week. And that was, a loss that should’ve happened if rookie Marcus Williams makes a textbook tackle. But a team getting a second chance like that always responds. And I honestly believe that this game won’t even be close as I think the Vikings beat the brakes off of the wounded Eagles.