NFL 2018 Conference Championships Preview

NFL
Updated Monday 22nd January 2018, 04:32 PM

The divisional rounds of the playoffs featured the wildest finish ever seen in playoff history, with an underdog score and upset and a shock team win to make it to the conference finals. If the last two weeks are anything to go by, with each round of the playoffs being even better than the last, then viewers and punters are in for a treat on Sunday.

Jacksonville Jaguars vs New England Patriots

Sunday 21st January, 8:05pm (UK Time)

  • Winner: Jaguars 16/5, Patriots 1/4 (888bet)

If you had any doubts about the legitimacy of the Jaguars before the divisional round, they will have been silenced now. The 42-45 final score was flattering to the vanquished Steelers as the Jags had the game in hand and only allowed an easy touchdown at the end of the game. This was almost as dominant as you get, with the Jags winning in every facet of the game; they created turnovers on defence, ran the ball hard on offence and even Bortles got in on the action and made some clutch throws.

Fournette had his best game of the year, rushing for 109 yards and three touchdowns, whilst Bortles improved on his shocking wild-card game by posting 214 yards and a touchdown. The defence forced an early turnover in the first quarter and smothered the opposing wide receivers, only allowing the odd big play here and there to pad some stats. To win this weekend, though, the Jags pass rush is going to have to be more disruptive and not let Brady get any time, specifically if they go to a no-huddle offence. The defence will also have to get at least one turnover or make one big play.

The divisional round was a regulation game for the Patriots; take the first quarter to see what the opponent is doing, adjust to it and then go score some points. Down 7-0 after the first quarter, the Patriots scored 35 unanswered points behind Brady running a no-huddle offence and distributing the ball amongst the running backs out the backfield. To beat the Jaguars, the offensive line is going to have to be a lot more consistent. Too many times did Brady feel pressure from the perimeter pass rush and, although he was able to step up into the pocket and make throws, some of them went awry.

This game will be similar to the Patriots vs Seahawks from a few years ago, although this Jags offence doesn’t match the one the Seahawks boasted back then. Brady will have to run a no-huddle offence and get the ball out his hands quickly to the running backs and Amendola, rather than relying on Cooks and Gronk. The Jaguars will need to play lockdown defence as they have all year if they want to come out and win and hope that Bortles doesn’t turn the ball over.  The Jaguars are the team the Patriots didn’t want to see in the post-season, so this game will be far from a walkover.

Sports.net Top Tip:

Type Odds Provider Bet Now
To Win First Half
Jaguars
43/20
Bet Now

Minnesota Vikings vs Philadelphia Eagles

Sunday 21st January, 11:40pm (UK Time)

  • Winner: Vikings 8/15, Eagles 6/4 (Ladbrokes)

You don’t get a more dramatic game than the divisional round game between the Vikings and Saints, with Keenum finding Diggs for the game winning 61-yard touchdown as time expired. That’s the first time in the NFL a playoff game has finished with a walk off touchdown in regulation and not overtime. The biggest question for this week is about whether the Vikings overcome such an emotional climax. Too often you see teams win an absolute thriller before coming out the next week looking flat because they are psychologically spent. That won’t suffice this week against an Eagles defence that just refuses to give up points. Keenum has thrown himself into the MVP conversation, and if he wants to win the award he is going to need some more magic this week.

The Eagles shouldn’t have won, but here we are watching them host the NFC championship. Foles didn’t do anything special at all, but the second half did see him make some throws to keep the Eagles moving. Instead the defence played lights out for 60 minutes and held the Falcons scoreless in the second half. The team is going to have to do the same here against the Vikings, as Foles is up against a much better defence than the one he faced a week ago.

The prediction that Vikings vs Saints game would come down to which team made the biggest plays was spot on, and this game is going to be the same. With two of the best defences in the league, both offences are going to have to pull something out the bag. Alternatively, if a defence can get a turnover or two then that could decide it based on field position alone. If anyone should feel nervous going into this game, it should be the kickers, because field goals are going to matter come Sunday night.

Sports.net Top Tip:

Type Odds Provider Bet Now
Eagles Total Points
Under 14.5
13/8
Bet Now

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Last Updated: Monday, 22 January 2018 04:32:07+00:00
Published By Sports.net

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