Who will make it to Super Bowl 52?
And now it is down to the final four! After a cracking regular season and some pulsating action in the postseason there are just four NFL teams standing with a chance of having a shot at destiny.
The AFC and NFC Championship games are just a few days away now and the time has come for us to put our necks on the line and predict who will make it to Super Bowl 52. So, here it goes.
AFC: New England Patriots vs Jacksonville Jaguars
On paper and looking at history of both sides, this looks like a straightforward win for the New England Patriots. Football however does not work like that. Yes, the Pats are the current champions. Yes, they have been the team to beat since the turn of the century. Yes, they are the most dominant NFL team of the current era.
The Jaguars are yet to play in the Super Bowl, let alone win it. They are yet to even win the AFC. But this has been a season of redemption. They have upset the odds to come within one game of making it to their first ever Super Bowl. The Pats only have to look back at the divisional playoffs to see that they cannot underestimate the Jaguars. In that clash against the Steelers, they went to the Heinz Field and won a game many thought they had no chance of winning.
This is a game between the Irresistible Force (Pats) vs the Immovable Object (Jags). The Jags have one of the meanest, if not the meanest, defense in the NFL this season while we all know the offensive power of the Pats. The Jaguars are not really interested in playing pretty football. All they want to do is win and they can win ugly. Tom Brady and Co will really have to be at the top of their game.
The Jaguars do not have a very good head-to-head record against the Patriots though. They have come out on top only once in the eleven games these two sides have played overall. Since Brady and Belichick moved to the Pats, the Jaguars have not been able to beat the Patriots. The Patriots have got more playoff experience too. They know how to win crucial games and that is a huge advantage to have.
The Jaguars are resilient and they have showed that side of their game multiple times over the course of this season. Can they turn up and topple the Patriots in the AFC Championship game? Well, we do not think so. It looks as if this will be the end of the journey for the Jaguars, and the Patriots will make it to yet another Super Bowl in 2018.
NFC: Minnesota Vikings vs Philadelphia Eagles
This is a tough one to call. The Vikings overcame the New Orleans in the divisional playoffs in what was one of the most incredible games in NFL history. With just ten seconds left in the game, Case Keenum threw a sixty one yard pass to Stefon Diggs to nail the game winning touchdown with the last play of the game. It was an incredible finish to what was an incredible game.
In the other NFC divisional playoff game, the Philadelphia Eagles faced off against the Atlanta Falcons. It was a low scoring game but the Eagles managed to scrap through by a 15-10 score. Now it is time for the Vikings and the Eagles to square off for the NFC Championship.
The last time these two sides played each other was in October of 2016. The Vikings were going great by that point and were 5-0 for the season. They lost the clash 21-10 and ended the season with an 8-8 record which was not good enough for them to land them a postseason berth. The Eagles went 7-9 that year.
Now the Vikings and the Eagles have turned their fortunes around in just a year and a half. First up it does not look as if it will be a high scoring encounter. The Vikings just conceded 15.8 pts per game which was the best defensive record in the league. The Eagles gave up just 18.4, which puts them fourth on the list. On top of that, the Eagles restricted their opponents to just 79.2 yards per game while the Vikings were just behind them with 93.6 yards per game.
The game might just be decided by a stroke of genius by someone or by the team that handles the pressure better. The Eagles will have home field advantage as the game will be played at the Lincoln Financial Field. But, playing at home also adds more pressure on the home side to deliver and the Vikings will have to find a way to use that to their advantage. The Vikings will edge out the Eagles according to us but it will be a very tight game.