Fri, Jan 19, 10:36am by Staff Writer
The NFL season is almost reaching is crescendo with Super Bowl 52 set to take place on February 5 at U.S Bank Stadium in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
This weekend determines which two teams will play in that decider, with New England hosting Jacksonville in the AFC and Philadelphia hosting Minnesota in the NFC.
Jacksonville Jaguars at New England Patriots
Monday, 22 January 2018 at 7.05am AEDST
Nobody would have predicted that the Jacksonville Jaguars would make the AFC Championship game this season and be within a game of their first Super Bowl, but after a stunning 45-42 win at Pittsburgh last week, that dream is almost within reach. Between the Jags and a trip to Minnesota are the all conquering New England Patriots led by Tom Brady.
The first meeting between these two in the post season since 2008 is their most important, with the winner playing in Super Bowl 52.
The Jags have built their game around defence this season, with NFL Defensive Player of the Year candidate Calais Campbell recording 14.5 sacks this season and young cornerback Jalen Ramsey playing inspired football.
The Jaguars have reached the AFC Championship game twice before, losing in 1996 and 1999.
Conversely, New England have reached the penultimate game a staggering 14 times and are 6-1 in AFC title games at home.
A 51-17 rout of the Jaguars in 2015 is the last time the two teams met in New England, with the Patriots only recording one loss against the Jags in 11 matches.
Quarterback Blake Bortles did what he needed to last weekend, passing for 214 yards and one touchdown.
Jacksonville had the NFL’s best pass defence in the regular season, but did allow five Ben Roesthlisberger touchdowns last week.
New England handled Tennessee with ease last weekend, beating the Titans 35-14. Tom Brady throw for over 300 yards and three touchdowns, with the Patriots offence notching up 438 total yards.
New England have reached seven consecutive AFC Championships and the only time Tom Brady has lost in the Super Bowl is to Tom Coughlin’s New York Giants.
Coughlin is now the Jaguar’s executive vice president of football operations. We are going out on a limb and predicting the unpredictable.
A fairytale story with a fairytale ending and we are banking on defence trumping offence.
We are taking the Jags at the +8.5 start, but hoping they get the job done outright.
Best bet- Jacksonville Jaguars to cover +8.5 handicap at $1.95
Minnesota Vikings at Philadelphia Eagles
Monday, 22 January 2018 at 10.40am AEDST
The top seeded Philadelphia Eagles host the second seeded Minnesota Vikings, who have the chance to be the first team to ever play a Super Bowl in its home stadium.
Minnesota staged one of the most miraculous finishes in NFL history last weekend when they defeated the New Orleans Saints thanks to a Case Keenum touchdown pass as time expired to beat the Saints by five points.
After leading 17-0 at half time, the Saints kicker Will Lutz kicked a 43-yard field goal with 25 seconds remaining to all but seal victory for New Orleans.
A Stefon Diggs touchdown pass at the death was the first non-overtime walkoff touchdown in NFL playoff history and U.S Bank Stadium was in hysterics.
The Eagles were in a closely contested match with the Atlanta Falcons last weekend and could have lost themselves at the very end if Julio Jones had caught Matt Ryan’s pass in the red zone.
Eagles quarterback Nick Foles threw for 246 yards against the Falcons, fumbling twice but recovering both times.
The Eagles have astonishingly not allowed a single point in the final two minutes of the second half in any game this season.
They are once again home underdogs against a Minnesota team which almost blew a 17-0 lead at home to New Orleans.
The prize is enormous for Minnesota and the advantages immense if they are playing the Super Bowl in their home arena.
The Eagles at home in a Championship game in the past has not proven a successful tonic for Philadelphia, but we think after years of heartache, they will finally make that elusive Super Bowl.
Best bet- Philadelphia Eagles to win at $2.30
*All odds provided by Sportsbet
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