NFL Conference Championship AARs
Jacksonville Jaguars @ New England Patriots; Line: Pats by 8.5
Outcome: Patriots 24, Jaguars 20
Chris’s Pick: Patriots 21, Jaguars 24
Chris’s pick: Hmm. 23/36. 293 yards. 1 touchdown. 0 INTERCEPTIONS. This is the kind of line Blake Bortles usually needs if Jacksonville is going to win. Well, these are Bortles numbers from Sunday, and yet, the Gronk-less Patriots, led by the ageless one and he-who-always-wears-a-hoodie, still won. And this is one of the reasons why Blake Bortles is still not going to be looked at as the starter for this team come next season. He played well down the stretch, he even outperformed expectations in the playoffs, and he is now 2-1 in postseason play, but he just isn’t the guy that’s going to win you a football game when it counts. The danger of picking a game manager, and that’s an upgraded title from what Bortles has been previously called, is that they do just enough not to throw the game, but rarely do enough to win it. Bortles played well. His first half numbers were fantastic. But down the stretch, he just couldn’t turn a big play to give his team momentum. The Jacksonville defense played well, not exceptional, but they were able to make plays and they won the turnover battle. With a 10 point lead heading into the fourth, the Jacksonville Jaguars were close to dethroning Tom Brady, but with an offense that ran out of gas, and the referees not giving them any breaks, they were left on the side of the road like so many other throwbacks from another era. I love their defense and their run game, but this is the age of quarterbacks. Good luck next year, Sacksonville.
Brad’s Pick: Patriots 31, Jaguars 21
Brad’s pick: I was wrong about New England covering the spread, but they did pull off the win on Sunday and did so in impressive comeback fashion. Although the Tom Coughlin narrative got a lot of run this week, he was sitting in a booth watching, not standing on the sideline coaching during this riveting AFC Championship game. There will be a lot of regret in Jacksonville in the offseason over the inability to hang on to a 20-10 lead, but they should hold their heads high having made it so far after winning just three games last season. I mentioned yesterday that the officiating seemed extremely uneven and I think that’s the other thing that will bother the Jags. I’m not saying they will blame the refs for the loss, but some of those calls—the PI call right before halftime comes to mind—came at really bad times and made the task before the road team even more difficult. My final thought here: I wish Jalen Ramsey hadn’t said they were gonna win the Super Bowl after the Pittsburgh victory.
Minnesota Vikings @ Philadelphia Eagles; Line: Vikes by 3
Outcome: Vikings 7, Eagles 38
Chris’s Pick: Vikings 28, Eagles 17
Chris’s pick: I’m a story guy. That’s what Brad called me many moons ago when we first started this sports blog thing, and while I asserted that I am also a stats guy, I am definitely a story guy. Case Keenum’s success this season has been special. He’s played well, dueled some of the very best the NFL has to offer and overcome the young rising stars of the league. He survived Jeff Fisher and he has a chance to start in this league and compete, which is never guaranteed in the NFL. It’s obvious why people root for this guy. And yet, the very best storyline of the Vikings season is their chance to play at home in a Super Bowl after having a 40 year Super Bowl drought. Oh, and watching the faces of all the Skol-frenzied purple people eaters truly turn purple as the Eagles blew them out 38 to 7. As a Packers fan, I couldn’t have derived much more pleasure out of such a spectacular failure on such a grand stage. I will be the first to admit I didn’t see the collapse coming (though I had dreams that it might) but I did start off my pick column last week sharing my hope that it would. My hopes and dreams did come true and while I’m not a believer in Nick Foles, I might just go buy his jersey after this one.
And I think I’ll watch this a few more times while I wait for the Viking-less Super Bowl on February 4th.
— The Checkdown (@thecheckdown) January 22, 2018
Outcome: Vikings 7, Eagles 38
Brad’s Pick: Vikings 24, Eagles 17
Brad’s pick: After taking a 7-0 lead within the first five minutes of the game, the wheels completely came off for the Vikings. Keenum was bad, they couldn’t run the ball at all, and the defense just got completely undressed. The guys in green did all the things I was expecting from Minnesota: solid QB play, smash mouth running game, dominance at the point of attack by an aggressive, deep defensive line.
Anyway, this game sucked and the only people who enjoyed it other than the Philly fans were people like Chris, consumed with Viking hate. So lets talk about something entertaining this game produced: that video of the Iggles fan in the Dawkins jersey crashing into the pole outside a metro car. I learned today that this happened BEFORE the game on Sunday which just makes it even better. Anyway, enjoy both angles synced below.