Last week the NFL playoffs were definitely worth watching. To quickly recap last weekends games: Philly became underdog victors to tell everyone they weren’t the number one seed for nothing, New England steamrolled the Titans in a very Belichick/Brady fashion, the Jags put down the Steelers who were expecting a rematch with the Patriots in the AFC championship, and the Minnesota Miracle happened with Stefon Diggs catching a 60 yard touchdown to win the Vikings the game in the last 10 seconds. Here’s that in case you missed it.
Anyway, after a crazy divisional round we’ve got some spicy match ups coming into championship weekend. Here’s what I think of the games and who’s going the Super Bowl.
#3 Seed. Jacksonville Jaguars @ #1 Seed. New England Patriots
Sunday 1/21 @ 3:05 PM on CBS
I have a strong feeling this is going to be a chippy game. The Jags defense likes to talk a lot and they’re going to have to back it up coming into Foxboro. The Patriots are playing in their 7th straight AFC title game and it’s definitely not a fluke. Nobody wants to play in Foxboro in January because there is just something special about this Patriots team. Here’s what I think each team is going to have to do to win.
Jacksonville’s win condition: In order for Jacksonville to win this game their defense is going to have to completely throttle New England’s offense. I’m talking 5+ sacks, 3 turnovers and at least have a 3 score lead at the end of the game. Because you know that if Brady gets the ball at the end of the game with a chance to win, he’s gonna win that game. Jacksonville needs to play like they’re down the whole game and not give the Patriots and Brady a chance to win. On the offensive side of the ball, they’re going to have to play pretty perfect. The Patriots defense has been stellar the second half of the season and Bortles is going to need to have success moving the ball. It will be interesting to see if the Jaguars receivers can get open. If they can get separation from the Patriots secondary then it’ll be an easier game for the Jags.
New England’s win condition: Start out strong and make a statement. Jacksonville came in strong against the Steelers and went up 21-0 in the first half. Then the Steelers somewhat figured out how to take advantage of their weaknesses because they found success in the second half. If the Patriots can come into this game strong, I don’t think the Jags stand a chance. On offense the Patriots will need to get Dion Lewis going early to force the Jags to stack the box. Then they can take the top off that defense with Brandin Cooks. A matchup I think that needs to be won is James White/Dion Lewis and Gronk vs the Jags linebackers. If they can get those players involved in the pass game it’s going to be a lot harder for the Jags to do a lot of things on defense. On the defensive side of the ball the Pats have to key in on the run. Bortles isn’t as good as people think he is, only amassing 301 passing yards in his two career playoff games. If the Patriots can stuff Leonard Fournette and force Bortles to beat them through the air, they will find success stopping the Jaguars offense.
My pick: Patriots 38, Jaguars 31. This game is going to be a battle, but ultimately I gotta take the Patriots at home. The Jaguars defense is good but I don’t think they will be able to stop the GOAT that is Tom Brady on his quest for his 6th ring. Ultimately I think Bortles makes too many mistakes in this game, and the Jags offense will have 3+ turnovers, costing them the game. Coincidentally I think Brady throws a couple picks this game but it won’t matter. Gimme the Pats moving onto the big game.
#2 Seed. Minnesota Vikings @ #1 Seed. Philadelphia Eagles
Sunday 1/21 @ 6:40 PM on FOX
Much like the AFC championship game, I think this one will also be a battle. The Eagles proved last week that they aren’t going to just fall over and let teams move on in the playoffs. However I think that Atlanta and Minnesota are quite different teams. On defense I think the Vikings can expose the Eagles’ offensive weaknesses much more successfully than the Falcons did. Here’s what each team is going to have to do to win.
Minnesota’s win condition: The Vikings are going to have to win this game through Case Keenum and their offense. Defensively they shouldn’t have much trouble keeping the Eagles down because I’m still not sold on that Nick Foles led offense. The Vikings are going to need to get the run game going early and control the clock. Also Keenum is going to need to take care of the ball. If they can manage these conditions well, they should have no problem taking it to the Eagles in Philly. Defensively the Vikings win condition is similar to that of the Patriots, key in on the run and make Nick Foles throw it on you.
Philadelphia’s win condition: The Eagles are going to have to create turnovers to win this game. The defense is going to have to either score all the points or set up their offense in scoring position from turnovers. Either way the Eagles are going to need a lot of things to go their way to win. Offensively they’re going to have to get Jay Ajayi involved early. Ajayi is easily their best back and if he gets hot it will be much easier for the Eagles to control the pace of this game. The Eagles are going to want this to be a low scoring affair like last week, in order to win.
My pick: Vikings 24, Eagles 21. The Vikings are going to win this game off the back of their momentum. The game winning touchdown against the Saints last week should have gave them the feeling that they are destined to be the first team to play a Super Bowl in their home stadium. Give me the Vikings vs. Patriots on Super Bowl sunday!
Written By: Jon Tetreault ( @jtetreault13 )