Conference Championship Sunday to Provide Fireworks

Congratulations, if you bet on the final four quarterbacks in the NFL playoffs being Blake Bortles, Tom Brady, Case Kennum and Nick Foles, you have just won a lot of money.

Then again, no one saw that coming at the beginning of the season. Yet here we are. There are three games left in the NFL season, with Championship Sunday coming up. Here are things to look for during the pair of games this weekend.

AFC Championship

New England Patriots vs. Jacksonville Jaguars

2:05 p.m. CBS

This game is a rematch of the Week 15 game that saw the Patriots win after Pittsburgh tight end … wait, the Jaguars beat the Steelers?

In fact, they did, though most people had another AFC Championship game between the Steelers taking on the Patriots.

That fact never reached the Jaguars’ locker room, as Jacksonville took their second win in Pittsburgh this season.

Defenses win championships, and Jacksonville has a good one. They were first in the league against the pass, while finishing second in scoring defense, total defense, sacks and turnovers.

Jalen Ramsey and A.J. Bouye are both strong cornerbacks and can cause problems for opposing offenses.

The only issue: they will be going against perhaps the best quarterback in NFL history. Tom Brady has made a living carving up defenses by dissecting them pre-snap.

Historically, the best way to beat Brady is to get pressure with four rushers, and Jacksonville can do that. The Jaguars blitzed the fewest amount of plays in the regular season.

Calais Campbell and Yannick Ngakoue both have double-digit sacks on the season and are capable of putting pressure on the quarterback.

Still, it is Brady, and his arsenal of weapons, ranging from the monster Rob Gronkoswki to the former lacrosse player Chris Hogan.

And on the other side of the ball, it is poor Blake Bortles.

For some reason, Bortles gets the short end of the stick from pundits and fans. While he has never been able to light up the league, he at least has been consistent from year to year.

That being said, he has his hot and cold streaks. Despite that, he finds himself a game away from the Super Bowl.

The only issue: Bill Belichick and Matt Patricia will be trying to mess with the quarterback all day.

Bortles’ inexperience, coupled with that of most of the offense, could undo the Jaguars.

NFC Championship

Philedelphia Eagles vs. Minnesota Vikings

5:40 p.m. FOX

For the two teams combined, their appearances in this game came down to two plays.

The Eagles flirted with disaster in allowing Atlanta to drive down the field late in the game to look to win it. Matt Ryan could not find Julio Jones on what turned out to be a scramble play on fourth-and-goal.

For the Vikings, the 61-yard Minnesota Miracle will live on for a long time.

And now there will be a defensive slugfest on a seasonably warm day in the city of Brotherly Love.

The game could likely come down to which offensive line holds up the best.

Fletcher Cox presents the biggest threat to pressure Case Keenum. The interior of the Vikings’ offensive line, led by rookie center Pat Elflein will have their hands full.

On the other side, Everson Griffen will look to get past Halapoulivaati Vaitai on his way to Foles. Expectation can be Vaitai getting help from running backs or the tight end during the game.

The offenses feature a pair of effective wide receiving corps. Alshon Jeffery will likely draw coverage from All-Pro corner Xavier Rhodes, with Harrison Smith lurking should Nelson Agholor go deep.

On the flip side, Adam Thielen and Stefon Diggs will see plenty of the Eagles cornerback duo of Jalen Mills and Ronald Darby.

Points will be at a premium on what is forecasted to be warm, with a trip to Minneapolis on the line.

Leave a Reply