Championship weekend is upon us. Looking back at last September’s predictions, we got 1 team out of 4 correct on who would make it this far, the New England Patriots. The other three well, at least two of them were surprises. Two intriguing matchups will make Super Bowl 52 an exciting game two weeks from now.
Last week, we were 2-2 head to head, against the spread we were 1-3
All odds courtesy of Oddsshark.com
Sunday, January 21
Jacksonville at New England
Line: Patriots by 8½
The Jags completely manhandled an ill-prepared Pittsburgh Steelers team last weekend. QB Blake Bortles basically stayed out of trouble throwing for 214 yards passing and a TD. Leonard Fournette rushed for 109 yards and 3 TD’s. They play in their third AFC championship game, this time against the Patriots, who are in their 7th AFC Final in 7 years. They easily disposed of Tennessee, with Tom Brady throwing for 337 yards passing and three TD’s. Historically, the Patriots have owned the Jags with a 10-1 record. Jacksonville’s last win against the Patriots was during Wildcard Weekend in 1999. Some writers are calling this an easy path for New England, but there are some warning signs. Tom Brady was let up in practice after he jammed his hand. X-rays were negative. Jacksonville’s vice-president of football operations is a familiar face to Patriots fans. Tom Coughlin was the head coach during the Giants Super Bowl wins against Tom Brady and the Patriots, and I’m sure he’s giving his head coach Doug Marrone some scouting on New England. The Jags defense is built similar to those Giants Super Bowl teams. The big difference in this game is how Blake Bortles plays. He is no Eli Manning. If the Jags offense can keep the ball away from Tom Brady, Jacksonville has a chance to win. But the Patriots are just too good to go against at home.
Smooth’s Pick – New England (21-16)
Minnesota at Philadelphia
Line: Vikings by 3
The Eagles have bent, but haven’t broken. They’ve found ways to win the last 3 out of 4 games. They escaped against Atlanta last weekend with the help of the defense. They were able to shut down Matt Ryan and his high powered offense. But now they have a bigger foe this weekend. The Vikings offense is way more powerful than the Falcons. And even though they almost blew it last weekend verses New Orleans, they still have the advantage. Historically, this series is tied at 13 games apiece. Their last meeting was in 2016, where the Eagles were victorious during the regular season. Philly are also 3-0 in the playoffs against Minnesota. If the Eagles are going to win this game, they’re going to have to score some points. 15 is not enough points for them to win, even if their defense plays well. Nick Foles needs to connect with Alston Jeffrey often. Once that’s done the Eagles defense can go to work. Vikings QB Case Keenum has excelled this season and looks for a payday in the off season if he goes to the Super Bowl. A win and Minnesota gets the first home game in Super Bowl history.
Smooth’s Pick – Minnesota (24-18)
Now with all of our picks, past performance doesn’t guarantee future results. If you have a gambling problem, then please seek help by going to GamblersAnonymous.org.
And that’s our conference championship picks here at smooth’s NFL football picks. Join us on February 1st for our final edition. We’ll have in depth analysis on both winners from this weekend’s games.
We’ll see you later!