National Football League playoffs: Picks, predictions for AFC & NFC Championship Games


Great. With the Super Bowl occurring in Minneapolis this year, there have been countless people claiming that the National Football League will end up screwing the Vikings because they either want more time for US Bank Stadium to prepare for the festivities (which is a moot point now that the Vikes are traveling to Philly for the NFC Championship) or that the National Football League (and city of Minneapolis) wants two teams from outside of Minnesota because of all the out-of-state money.

The Vikings (14-3) certainly have a Super Bowl-worthy team, but that has only made things worse for generations of fans who watched the 1987, 1998, 2000 and 2009 teams lose when that championship berth was on the line. Under new coordinator Pat Shurmur, the Vikings started to find offense without the normal investments: Quarterback Case Keenum was an undrafted free agent.

Keenum replaced an injured Bradford, who had replaced an injured Teddy Bridgewater.

The Vikings also allowed the fewest points/game with 15.8 while the Eagles only allowed the fourth fewest with 18.4 points/game.

But last week's slip-up against the New Orleans Saints nearly proved lethal.

In Minnesota, folks are still rubbing their eyes over the ending of the divisional game against New Orleans, with Stefon Diggs scoring the winning 61-yard touchdown reception on an all-or-nothing play as the clock expired. Dallas' defense tormented Minnesota from the start. The play before, the Vikings were flagged for having 12 players on the field.

The Eagles might only exacerbate those issues. Fletcher Cox can't be blocked, says Eagles teammate Malcolm Jenkins, himself a guy who pops up all over the field. Here are three reasons how the Eagles and Vikings share similarities.

Most NFL teams could not overcome these injuries.

The Vikings are looking for their first berth in the Super Bowl since the '76 season in Super Bowl XI. It's no surprise that Brady is back.

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With Burkhead's potential return, the Patriots could have enviable flexibility.

Four months removed from reconstructive surgery, Robinson is now traveling with the team, so he'll be on the sideline Sunday at New England, serving as a mentor to a raw receiving corps.

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Smith and Jack have the speed and range to match up with opposing running backs, but recent lapses should be cause for concern.

That was their formula against Derrick Henry and the Titans' rushing attack, and it worked to perfection, as they held Henry to 28 yards rushing (after his 156-yard game against Kansas City) and then unleashed their pass rush on Marcus Mariota to the tune of eight sacks. However, the "Next Man Up" approach has guided the Eagles and Vikings to success regardless.

The Jags front four is absolutely terrifying. The lone answer for Philadelphia might be to establish the run and hope that it opens up sporadic opportunities for big gains through the air. Plus, the way this entire season has gone, how can anybody around here possibly pick against the Eagles? In NFL, that means running the ball and playing defense.

The Jaguars are the healthiest of the remaining playoff teams.

The Jacksonville Jaguars advanced to the AFC Championship with a 45-43 shootout win against the Pittsburgh Steelers, while the New England Patriots moved on after handily beating the Tennessee Titans 35-14. Vivid Seats, another online ticket marketplace, said its median ticket price to get into the game is $6,054.75.

Van Noy's sack total was just a half-sack shy of Hightower's career high set in 2014.