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AFC AND NFC CHAMPIONSHIP MATCHUPS & PREDICTIONS

There was a miracle in Minneapolis and an upset in the Steel City.

But now it’s time for the AFC/NFC championship games and a trip to Super Bowl LII is on the line.

Soak in the fact that Case Keenum or Nick Foles will be representing the NFC this year, and either Blake Bortles or the great Tom Brady for the AFC.

Three out of the four remaining teams have never hoisted the Lombardi Trophy. The other (Patriots) has five since 2002.

 

 

MINNESOTA VIKINGS @ PHILADELPHIA EAGLES: SUNDAY JANUARY 21, 6:40 PM

Vikings defense. Eagles defense. Case Keenum. Nick Foles.

This could be a game for the ages. The process the two quarterbacks have gone through together now face off with a chance to play in the Super Bowl.

Credit: CBS Sports

The incredible walk-off touchdown by Stefon Diggs after Saints safety Marcus Williams failed to make the final tackle will be enriched in Vikings fans heads forever.

If Minnesota wins at Lincoln Financial Field Sunday night, they’ll host Super Bowl LII in their own home, U.S. Bank Stadium, the first team to ever do so.

Diggs is still Minnesota’s most intimidating weapon, although Adam Thielen had a pro bowl season.

In the NFC title game, Diggs will match up cornerback Jalen Mills, who gave up an NFL-high nine touchdowns in coverage and was the only Eagles corner to allow a passer rating north of 90.0 during the regular season.

The Vikings have proven they can win with both defense and offense. Last week, they beat offensive juggernaut Saints in a game where quarterback Case Keenum threw for over 300 yards.

According to Pro Football Focus, the Vikings are No. 1 in total defense at 275.9 yards per game and No. 1 in points allowed at 15.8. They also own a top-10 offense that averages 23.9 points per game.

The Eagles have the better line, on both sides of the football. If their pass rush keeps pressuring Keenum, they could make it very difficult on him.

Overall, there are mismatches in this game but not a lot of weaknesses. The Eagles are now 8-1 at home this year including postseason.

This game will come down to which defense gives the better effort.

FINAL SCORE: VIKINGS 21, EAGLES 17

 

JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS @ NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS: SUNDAY JANUARY 21, 3:05 PM

Jacksonville will be the Patriots hardest match up to this point of the season.

New England enters their seventh straight AFC Championship Game as the overwhelming favorite to knock off the Jacksonville Jaguars and earn a return trip to the defend their title.

Jacksonville is playing in its first AFC Championship since 1999.

Brady and the Pats will need to limit their mistakes, especially on offense.

It’s not a question the Jaguars defense is the best in football, and it’s also not a question that they’ll come out more confident than ever after last week’s win against Pittsburgh.

The Patriots came into the playoffs with the 29th-ranked total defense that conceded 366 total yards per game, with 251.3 of that average coming in the passing game.

That statistic is to just distract you from what New England’s defense really has perform well on; Leonard Fournette.

Fournette had 109 yards and 3 touchdowns. If their defense can stop him, that puts extreme pressure on Bortles to make the right play, and at Gillette Stadium in the AFC championship game, let’s just say that’s easier said than done.

But the Jaguars are the team that can disrupt and possibly dethrone Brady.

Keep putting pressure up the middle and around the outside, make him feel uncomfortable in his pocket.

The New York Giants won two Super Bowls using that game plan. Not to mention the Giants head coach for those games was Tom Coughlin, who is now the executive Vice President of Operations in Jacksonville…

While the Jags have partied like it’s 1999 (similar to the Buffalo Bills in week 17) their party comes to a halt.

FINAL SCORE: PATRIOTS 25, JAGUARS 13

About Robbie Callaghan

Yankees, Knicks, NY Giants, NY Rangers.

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