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NFL Championship Weekend

By: Jake Taylor, Staff Writer


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NFL Playoff Predictions Championship Weekend

 

This past weekend was one of the craziest Divisional Weekends in NFL history, highlighted by GC alum Stefon Diggs’ walk-off touchdown versus the Saints. We’ll do a quick recap:

 

Here’s a look at everything you’ll need to know ahead of this weekend’s slate of games, including last week’s recap, game-by-game predictions, and who to root for.

 

Divisional Round

 

Eagles 15 – Falcons 10

In a defensive masterpiece by the Eagles, they were able to hold the star-studded Falcons to only 10 points. Stars like Devonta Freeman and Julio Jones held minimal impact on the game, showcasing the Eagles defensive success. As the Vikings are in the middle of a hot streak, the Eagles have a tough team to beat this week. The Eagles will need to score more than 15 points to beat the red-hot Vikings offense. But the question remains: is QB Nick Foles ready to step up to the role?

 

Vikings 29 – Saints 24

What might go down as one of the greatest plays of all time did not seem at all probable during the game. The Vikings seemed to dominate the Saints until the last quarter when Drew Brees led the Saints down the field to kick a go-ahead FG putting the Saints up by 1. Trailing for the second time all game, the Vikings seemed pinned in their own territory with nothing but a Hail Mary as an option. Stefon Diggs caught a wide-open pass, and with rookie Saint’s safety missing a routine tackle, Diggs found his way into the end zone. Although with an amazing win, the Vikings do not have this much room for error against the Eagles this week.

 

Patriots 35 – Titans 14

Tom Brady reminded NFL fans again that the AFC is his territory. In a dominating fashion, the Patriots played well on all sides of the ball especially the running game. Dion Lewis and the several other Rbs have been opening other opportunities in the offense and should make things easier for an aging QB Tom Brady. Brady did suffer a hand injury during the game which could turn out to be an issue come Saturday. He’s got a big challenge with the Jaguars defense but the GOAT has not and will not show any signs of weakness.

Jaguars 45 – Steelers 42

What was supposed to be a defensive matchup turned into a shootout for both teams. Leonard Fournette totaled over 100 yards and 3 touchdowns to help take the pressure off QB Blake Bortles. After getting out to an early lead, the Jaguars defense seemed to fall apart in the second half. Allowing 28 points to Big Ben and the Steelers offense which made the game a lot closer. A few controversial decisions by Steelers HC Mike Tomlin may have cost the Steelers the game. Although, after a great offensive showing from the Jaguars, you can expect them to make this week’s game against the Patriots fierce and competitive.

 

Now for this week’s predictions:

Vikings 20 – Eagles 17

This game will be interesting because the underdog, the Eagles, have the home field advantage. With their backup QB Nick Foles, replacing their MVP candidate, Carson Wentz, the Eagles are going to have to lean on the two-headed rushing attack of Jay Ajayi and LeGarrette Blount. They fared somewhat well against the Falcons last week but are going up against the best defense in the NFL in the Vikings. The Vikings are lucky to be in this position due to Stefon Diggs’ game winning play. Having said that, the Vikings offense played well against the Saints defense but they’re facing another monster in the Eagles defense. I expect this to be a close, defensive battle, boiling down to which of the two backup QBs, Case Keenum for the Vikings or Nick Foles for the Eagles, outplays the other. I fully expect Keenum to outplay Foles and the Vikings to win another hard-fought game coming down to the last second.

34 Patriots – 17 Jaguars

This game is a somewhat interesting matchup because of the strengths of both teams. The Pats have the best QB of all time in Tom Brady so their obvious strength is passing. Also, their running game is very underrated. The Jags strength is their defense and the ability to create turnovers. For the Jags to have a shot at pulling off the upset, they need to pressure Brady WITHOUT blitzing. If they blitz or don’t create pressure, I can see the Patriots scoring 45+ (honestly). However, if they do create pressure, and the Jags can get Brady off his rhythm, they can help their below average QB, Blake Bortles, score some easy points through turnovers. All of this needs to happen for the Jags to even have a SHOT. I predict this should be a stress-free game for Tom Brady and the Patriots.

-Timi Sanni

 

42 Patriots – 21 Jaguars

DO NOT BET AGAINST TOM BRADY. Time and time again the Greatest QB of all time has proven that he should NEVER be doubted. Expect the Patriots to expose all the Jaguars weaknesses. The Jags defense fell apart in the second half as they allowed Big Ben and the Steelers to put up 28 points almost allowing a Steelers comeback. Jags QB Blake Bortles was bailed out yet again by an amazing performance by RB Leonard Fournette (3 Td’s) and a few timely turnovers made by their defense. Although dealing with internal conflict, Bill Belicheck and the Patriots will make few, if any mistakes, not allowing a young Jaguars team to end their reign in the AFC.

24 Eagles – 20 Vikings

The Vikings got lucky last week. Don’t expect Stefon Diggs to do the same this week. Although there is a lot of doubt around Eagles QB Nick Foles, remember how he played before Carson Wentz became the NFL MVP frontrunner. The Eagles running game should help to open things offensively. Expect the Eagles defense to replicate last week’s success, slowing down the Falcons array of offensive weapons. There is no doubt that this game will be a close one, but even with holding the saints below 100 rushing yards and a lackluster performance by Drew Brees the Vikings barely got the job done. Expect the Eagles to come out on top after a dogfight.

-Jake Taylor

 

Jaguars 21 vs Patriots 17

This game will not be as high scoring as the Jags vs Steelers last week. The teams that have beat Patriots in the past have a blue print. 

  1. You must be able to pressure Brady without blitzing and it must be pressure in the middle. While outside pressure is good, Brady likes to step up in the pocket, so to really disrupt him you need pressure from your interior lineman. 
  2. You must be physical with the WRs so the Jaguars are going to have to jam these WRs and tight ends. 
  3. Slow down Gronk. If you can’t stop Gronk you aren’t stopping the Patriots. 
  4. Keep Brady off the field. If Brady is given too many chances eventually he will capitalize. The Jags must expect the Patriots to take Fournette and the run game away. This means Bortles has to play well for Jags to have a chance. 

With that being said I expect Jags to shock the world. 

Key matchups 

LB Telvin Smith vs TE Gronk and Patriots RBs

-Brady loves throwing to his RBs so jags are going to have to slow that down.

Patriots Guards vs Jaguars interior line.

Leonard Fournette vs Pats front 7

-the Jags will not win playing 1 dimensional Blake Bortles just isn’t that good to carry them.

 

Vikings 24 vs Eagles 20

This game will be won in the front 7 because both teams have great defenses so it will be tough to run the ball. The Eagles will run a lot of RPO(run-pass option), just like last week, to help QB Nick Foles out.  I expect CB Xavier Rhodes to do a good job on Alshon Jeffrey so the other WRs and tight ends must step up. The Vikings offense will have a tough time running the ball because the Eagles D line is great, but the Vikings WRs, tight ends, and running backs catching the ball will have an advantage. 

Key matchups

 Eagles LT Halapoulivaati Vaitai vs Vikings DE Everson Griffin

– I think Vaitai will have a tough time blocking Griffin. 

CB Xavier Rhodes vs WR Alshon Jeffery

– Jeffery is the type of WRs Rhodes matches up well with, a big physical WR. This will be a good battle but I expect Rhodes to win this one. 

 Vikings O line vs Eagles D line.

-If the Vikings can’t block the Eagles, this will be a long night. I expect Eagle’s defensive line to win this battle.

 

-Curtis Walker

 

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