NFC and AFC Championship Games
Here’s some fun facts:
Last 4 QB’s standing: Brady…Keenum, Foles, Bortles.
This year’s top five defenses in the NFL, by points allowed:
Guess what? Defense wins championships.
AFC Championship Game
New England Patriots vs. Jacksonville Jaguars
The best offense in football goes against the best defense in football. On one side you have the best quarterback and the best tight end. On the other side of the ball, you have one of the most dominant front four players and the best corner.
Why the Patriots might win
Tom Brady is headed to his seventh straight AFC title game and 12th overall. The Patriots seek the sixth Super Bowl crown of the Brady/Bill Belichick Era. It’s hard to argue with the winning power of the Patriots.
First, we’ve got stud tight end, Rob Gronkowski. If Gronkowski is allowed to run freely off the line of scrimmage, then the best tight end in the NFL will dominate Jags linebackers, safeties, and corners.
Then we have the Pats run game. The Pats average over five yards a carry when they run anywhere from the left guard to the right tackle. Also, NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport reports New England running back Rex Burkhead (knee) is expected to play in the AFC Championship Game.
A big part of Sunday’s game is whether Jacksonville will be able to get a consistent pass rush. New England was slightly above average when it comes to protecting Tom Brady, 14th in adjusted sack rate. Brady will stand tall and wait for someone to come open. Jacksonville can’t afford to let this happen.
Why the Jaguars might win
Jacksonville formed the best defense in the NFL with the draft.
Jalen Ramsey – 1st round pick
Dante Fowler Jr. – 1st round pick
Myles Jack – 2nd round pick
Yannick Ngakoue – 3rd round pick
Telling Smith – 5th round pick
The most significant question is how can this defense stop Rob Gronkowski? A.J. Bouye is more than good enough to contain Brandin Cooks, so Jalen Ramsey needs to have the game of a lifetime to stop Gronkowski. I believe he can do it with help from his teammates.
Jaguars are not considered to be a high-scoring team, but they have scored 30+ points in 5 of their last seven games & 24+ in 6 of their final 8. On the other side of the ball, the mighty Jaguars have fixed their run defense. Le’Veon Bell was limited to 67 yards on 16 carries last week. Two of those carries went for 20 yards each. Only 47 yards on 14 carries? Yeah, that’s pretty great.
Philadelphia Eagles vs. Minnesota Vikings
Nick Foles and Case Keenum – former teammates – are playing against each other in the biggest game of their careers.
Why the Eagles might win
So many season-ending injuries to key starters, yet the Eagles are still contenders. Didn’t I say this is where the Eagles shine? No one thought they would win on Saturday. It wasn’t pretty in the first half, but they made up for it in the second half. Whatever the Eagles are doing is working. Defense wins championships.
And now we’re back here again. The Eagles are not favored to win. At home. Guess what? Nobody in the Eagles locker room gives a damn about those odds. This game will come down to which defense can cause turnovers. The Eagles have the edge in that category because of their aggressive play style and Case Keenum’s tendency to turn the ball over.
The Eagles have an incredible pass-rush led by Pro-Bowler Fletcher Cox, a three-headed beast in their running game, and they were a top-five team in both points scored and fewest points allowed.
Why the Vikings might win
Turnovers and blown opportunities hurt the Eagles on Saturday against the Falcons. Eagles allowed the Falcons to score 10 points on turnovers. Those kinds of mistakes cannot happen on Sunday against the Vikings. It’s the NFC Championship game. If a team gives away 10 points early to the Vikings, there’s little chance of coming back from that.
The Vikings seem like a team destined to play in the Super Bowl on their home turf. This team isn’t afraid to take chances. Look at their performance last week. Vikings receiver Stefon Diggs hauled in Case Keenum’s 61-yard touchdown pass on the final play for a 29-24 win over New Orleans in an NFC divisional playoff. So yeah. That happened.