Four teams remain to vie for two championships, and trips to Super Bowl LII in Minneapolis.
NFC Championship: Minnesota Vikings vs. Philadelphia Eagles
The Vikings are riding a huge momentum wave after their literal last-second victory over the New Orleans Saints in the now-famous “Minneapolis Miracle.”
Wide receiver Stefon Diggs made a leaping catch and evaded Saints’ safety Marcus Williams to score a touchdown that sealed the game for the Vikings.
Meanwhile, Philadelphia’s high-powered offense was slowed by Atlanta’s strong defense, though ultimately the Falcons’ offense couldn’t match the performance. Philadelphia escaped with a 15-10 victory in a closely contested game.
Minnesota’s defense is just as, if not more powerful than Atlanta’s. The Eagles’ offense is still dominant, but Atlanta showed that their scoring can be slowed, if nothing else. Adam Thielen and the Vikings WR corps will play a vital role in the offense, as the Eagles’ pass rush will likely look to bully Keenum every snap.
AFC Championship: New England Patriots vs. Jacksonville Jaguars
New England comes into their seventh consecutive AFC Championship game against the young and hungry underdog Jaguars.
The Patriots absolutely dismantled the Tennessee Titans, to the point that it may have played a part in Tennessee firing their head coach.
Jacksonville, on the other hand, won a shootout of a game against the Pittsburgh Steelers, with Jacksonville winning 45-42. Blake Bortles and Ben Roethlisberger passed for a collective six touchdowns and 676 yards.
Jacksonville’s running game was the deciding factor, as they rushed for nearly twice what Pittsburgh’s running backs did.
However, Blake Bortles and the Jaguars’ passing game may be the ultimate factor in the AFC Championship. Bortles has been maligned for his entire NFL career about his alleged under-performance as a QB. He rushed for more yards than he passed for in the team’s victory over Buffalo in the Wild Card Round, and he only passed for 214 yards compared to Roethlisberger’s 462 yards.
Leonard Fournette dominates the Jaguars’ offensive attack, but New England stifled the Titans’ rushing attack.
If Jacksonville is to win, everything is going to have to work perfectly together.
Tom Brady’s throwing hand may be injured, but he will play, according to a report from ESPN.
Even if he wasn’t able to play, Bill Belichick surely has a backup plan for backup QB Brian Hoyer.
The Patriots are the overwhelming favorites, though no one is discounting the Jaguars defense. However, a few teams, mainly the Titans, have shown that they are quite beatable if the game plan is correctly and carefully structured. If anyone would have such a comprehensive plan, it’s Bill Belichick.