Predicting the conference championship round of the NFL playoffs

Hello and welcome back to the Cowan Corner for another week of predictions for the upcoming slate of NFL games.

The field has been narrowed to four teams with quite a few surprises that I don’t think were expected when the season began. Three of the four remaining teams have never won a Super Bowl and that means we could very well see a first-time winner in two weeks.

Without further ado, let’s get into this weeks picks.

Patriots over Jaguars

These are two teams on the opposite end of the spectrum for what they do well.

The Jaguars have endured a less than stellar year from Blake Bortles thanks to a crushing defense which has put big hits on quarterbacks all season.

The Patriots had one of the worst defenses in football this season in terms of total yardage allowed, but went 13-3 behind a strong offensive attack.

For as many jokes are thrown Bortles’ way, this game could come down to how he performs. If he puts on a performance like he did in the fourth quarter of the Jaguars win over the Steelers Sunday, I think the Jaguars could surprise a lot of people with a win.

I think this one will ultimately come down to the Patriots offense though. Tom Brady will get battered all night by the Jaguars front seven, but I think the running backs will have the biggest impact.

The Jaguars’ rushing defense was their weak point most of the season and I think the combination of Dion Lewis and James White will be enough to lift the Patriots to a close win.

Vikings over Eagles

A lot of credit should go to the Eagles for what they did to the Falcons offense on Saturday. The Eagles came in as the home underdog and completely shut the Falcons down to pick up a 15-10 win.

However, I think they will find it difficult to repeat the performance this week mainly because I don’t think they will get to 15 points against the Vikings defense.

The Vikings advanced to this round after a miraculous 61-yard walkoff touchdown on Sunday against the Saints and the momentum definitely seems to be behind them to become the first team ever to play a Super Bowl in their home stadium.

The fact that it hasn’t happened before is interesting, but it must happen at some point by the law of averages. The Super Bowl saw its first overtime ever last season so why not follow that up with its first true home team.

This has the potential to be an ugly low-scoring game, but I think Case Keenum will do enough with Stefon Diggs and Adam Thielen to lead the Vikings to a win.

That does it for this week’s picks. Check back in two weeks for my Super Bowl predictions.

Divisional: 3-1

Playoffs: 5-3

Overall: 172-92

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