By Hamish Girvan
This analogy has been used before – and then there were 4. Winner of each game goes to the Big Dance. A NFL pundit in November stated Superbowl could be a Vikings vs Jaguars game. A real possibility now.
Jacksonville Jaguars at New England Patriots Monday 9.05am NZ time
This would have been predicted as a total mismatch at the start of the season. The Jags Blake Bortles versus the Pats Tom Brady however Jacksonville (aka Sacksonville) are legitimate contenders here. Their defence has been immense so their offence does not need to be on par however this week it will have to go up a notch, even though they scored 45 points last week. In Jacksonville’s favour is front of office Football Operations Vice President Tom Coughlin. The ex-New York Giants head coach knows how to beat Bill Belichicks Patriots. He’s done it twice when it counted – two Superbowl titles. He could be one of the differences here and the Patriot’s need to take note. Games where Tom Brady has been hit 12 or more times has ended in a Patriots loss and the Jags defence will be up for it. A 7.5 point start for the Jags is too generous. Take it – they may not win however they will make a game of it.
Footnote as of Friday. Brady was not practicing on Thursday in training as he has a hand injury that prevented him. Maybe a smokescreen – maybe not.
Minnesota Vikings at Philadelphia Eagles Monday 12.40pm NZ time
The walk off touchdown – using a baseball term- is the best play in the NFL to see, especially in a high stakes playoff game. That’s what Stefon Diggs achieved last week for the Vikings to break the New Orleans Saints heart. Now they travel to Philadelphia to face the Eagles who only got past the Atlanta Falcons, due to the anaemic offense they faced from them. The Vikings are on a roll and have some great storylines. A third string quarterback who started all games this season, has excelled and now the chance to play for the Superbowl in their own home stadium (something that has never occurred in the Superbowl era). The Eagles are a good team but not the same with Nick Foles at quarterback. This is the battle of a third string in Case Keenum against a second string in Foles. Difference is Foles has only the last two games. Minnesota are giving 3.5 points here – take it – the momentum is with them – and the chance to be the home team in two weeks’ time.
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