We have reached the penultimate week of the NFL season (unless you are counting the Pro Bowl, of course). This means the end of the road for two Super Bowl hopefuls and also a dream come true for two winners. The major story-line is, of course, that three of the four remaining teams have never won a Super Bowl and then we have the Patriots who are gunning for their sixth. Who will win this weekend? Here are my picks.
Sunday, January 21st, 3:05 e.t.
#3 Jacksonville Jaguars (12-6) @ #1 New England Patriots (14-3)
Everybody thought this was going to be the Steelers/Patriots rematch but the Jags went and threw a wrench in that plan by defeating Pittsburgh on the road for the second time this year. They did it with some timely play from their defense and a good offense shouldered, primarily, by Leonard Fournette. They are going to need a whole lot more of that if they hope to take the Patriots down this Sunday. The Pats’ offense was on the field for far too long against the Titans and were really able to do what they wanted by tiring Tennessee out. Jacksonville will need to generate pressure in order to have a chance. If New England can protect Tom Brady then I have confidence that he can move the ball even against this Jaguars’ defense. I think that the Jags will give the Patriots a game but in the end Tom Brady will be too much for their “D” to slow down.
New England 27, Jacksonville 20
Sunday, January 21st, 6:40 e.t.
#2 Minnesota Vikings (14-3) @ #1 Philadelphia Eagles (14-3)
This is the championship game that nobody thought they’d see, but let’s be honest, it does pit the two best teams in the conference by record. The Vikings pulled off a miracle win with a 61 yard touchdown as time expired to defeat the Saints. That is probably good news for the Eagles because I would not have liked their chances going against New Orleans with another veteran quarterback. As crazy and heart-pounding as the Vikings’ finish was, Philly had one of their own stopping the Falcons four times with about a minute left in the game inside of the 10 yard line. Philadelphia has a great defense at home and that is going to be what brings this team to the Super Bowl. Nick Foles was able to convert some third and longs last week and that was encouraging after he couldn’t do that at all in his three previous games. This is going to be a close defensive battle and I think that the Eagles will be able to generate enough pass rush on Case Keenum to make a difference in this contest.
Philadelphia 16, Minnesota 13