Category Archives: Playoffs

NFL: 2018 Eagles rain supreme in instant classic shootout over Patriots in #SuperBowlLII

If you’re a Patriots fan, be aware.

I’m not going to blast the Pats for their performance in Super Bowl LII. They played a game that would’ve beaten literally any other team in the NFL. I give all the credit to Nick Foles and the Eagles for beating the best dynasty currently in football.

That being said:

“Suck it, Patriots.”

                                             –A happy Colts fan

In an MVP performance, Nick Foles played the game of his life against the defending champs. From the beginning, Foles and his receivers were feeling it and it showed.

Although they only got three points on the opening drive, they opened up a 9-3 lead through the first quarter following Jake Elliot missed XP (not the only blunder of the night on special teams).

After another Eagles TD and a Goskowski FG, the Pats found the endzone for the first time on a 26-yard James White run. Surprisingly, Goskowski missed the XP (the second blunder) to make it a 15-12 game just before the two minute warning of the first half.

In an incredible 7-play, 70-yard drive that covered 90 seconds, Nick Foles drove the Eagles to the 1 yardline, but faced 4th & goal. The biggest play of the half.

Here it is. Gutsiest call for the Eagles to end the half with 10-point lead.

Tom Brady did what he does, finding tight end Rob Gronkowski four times on the opening drive of the third quarter on a 8-play, 75-yard drive that ended with a Gronk Spike. His first of two.

The Eagles followed the score with an answer, driving 85-yards to stay up by 10 midway through the third.  Tom “Playoff” Brady came back strong and led yet ANOTHER long drive to keep the Patriots in the game.

Going 75-yards in just under four minutes narrowed their deficit back to three points, 29-26.

Enter fourth quarter antics.

In one of their least productive drives of the night, the Eagles only mustered a field goal to open the fourth quarter. It seemed like they were running out of steam from keeping up with the Patriots all game.

They weren’t.

Tom Brady led a 10-play drive that lasted nearly five minutes.

The result? A second Gronk Spike that gave the Patriots their first lead of the game with just over nine minutes left in regulation.

If you thought the 4th & goal play to end the first half was gutsy, it gets better.

Foles orchestrated the drive of a lifetime, going 75-yards on FOURTEEN (14) plays and killed over seven minutes off the clock. Just before the two minute warning, Foles found Zach Ertz for a controversial 11-yard TD to take the lead back, 38-33.

After the failed 2PT to go up by seven, the Eagles had one thing to do–stop Tom Brady.

Tom Brady is one of the, if not THE, best clutch quarterbacks in the history of the NFL. His numbers in games don’t lie.

This wasn’t going to be one of those games. On the second play of his final drive, Brady was under pressure and got strip-sacked by Brandon Graham, the Eagles leading sack earner.

The Eagles took over on the NE 28 and stayed in FG range for the Elliot kick to make it 41-33.

One last ditch effort to score points (and possibly a 2PT to even the score) fell short for Brady and the Patriots.



Underdogs throughout the entire postseason. Overlooked once Carson Wentz got injured. Overlooked and underdogs no more.

For the first time since 1960, the Philadelphia Eagles are Champions, winning Super Bowl LII, over the Patriots, 41-33 in offensive shootout

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Photo from: macon.com


Notable Stats:

Eagles   41
QB: N. Foles (SB MVP)         28/43, 373 yds, 3 TD, 1 TD rec, 1 INT
RB: J. Ajayi                               9 car. 57 yds.
RB: L. Blount                           14 car. 90 yds, TD
RB: C. Clement                         3 car, 8 yds, 4 rec, 100 yds, TD
WR: A. Jeffery                         3 rec, 73 yds, TD
WR: N. Agholor                       9 rec, 84 yds.
TE: Z. Ertz                                7 rec, 67 yds, TD (GW)

Patriots     33

QB: T. Brady                            28/48, 505 yds, 3 TD
RB: J. White                             7 car, 45 yds, TD, 2 rec, 21 yds.
RB: R. Burkhead                     3 car, 18 yds, 1 rec, 46 yds.
WR: D. Amendola                   8 rec, 152 yds.
WR: C. Hogan                          6 rec, 128 yds, TD
TE: R. Gronkowski                 9 rec, 116 yds, 2 TD



If this game wasn’t enough to get you to love the game of football, it was certainly one that’ll go down in history as one of the best ever. Breaking 17 records and tying 12 more, this game was the best offensive shootout in the history of the Super Bowl.

In the middle of many of these records is Tom Brady. Now the only quarterback in NFL history with 10,000+ postseason passing yards, Brady also has the most pass attempts (357), completions (235), passing yards (2,576) and passing touchdowns (18) than any other player in Super Bowl history.

This game, Brady broke the single game passing yards record in a SB with 505, breaking his record from last year against the Falcons (467).

The two teams combined for a NFL record 1,151 total yards (874 of which were passing), which is the most in ANY NFL GAME (regular and postseason games).

I’m not going to list all 29 records that were broken/tied in the game, but CBS Sports did, so here’s a link.

 

NFL: 2018 Super Bowl LII (Patriots vs. Eagles) Preview

USA TODAY Sports

As I’ve said in previous blog posts, I’m a die hard Indianapolis Colts fan, so I have a hard time cheering for the Patriots in any circumstance. I recognize the legacy Belichick and Brady have built and every team in the NFL aspires to have that kind of success.

There are rumors circulating about the end of this legacy. Tom Brady, who is now 40 years old, and Bill Belichick, 65 years young, would be the oldest in league history to win a Super Bowl in their respective roles.

One of the biggest things to know going into Super Bowl Sunday is the experience difference between the Patriots and Eagles.

If the playoff and Super Bowl experience differential isn’t enough to influence your prediction, consider this season.

Tom Brady led the NFL in passing yards with 4,577. According to NFL Research, QB’s who led the league in passing yards are 0-5 in Super Bowls in that season. This isn’t a reason to bet against Brady and the Patriots, but it is something to consider against Nick Foles and the Eagles this season.

Throwing for a whopping 352 yards and 3 TDs against a defense that only gave up an average of 192 pass yards/game during the regular season. If Foles and Eagles Offensive Coordinator Frank Reich can dial up that same offensive performance, this game will be well in hand for the NFC Champions.

                      BleacherReport.com

I don’t expect that to happen. Crazier games have been played, in a Super Bowl, nonetheless. Need I remind you of SB XLVIII?

A big question mark looms over star tight end Rob Gronkowski and his readiness to return to the field following his injury early in the AFC Championship game two weeks ago. Currently in concussion protocol, Gronk knows what it’s like to miss a huge game, missing last seasons Super Bowl with a back injury.

I don’t expect scoring to be hard to come by. The current over/under is 48 points with the Patriots favored by just 3 points. Both teams boast high flying offenses and reliable defenses that will look to take every advantage at their disposal to gain an edge.


My prediction:

I fully expect the Patriots to continue their dominance and win another Super Bowl. As much as I’d like to see the Eagles,the biggest underdog since 2009, beat the Patriots, I don’t think it’ll happen. It’s going to come down to how well Nick Foles plays.

I expect the Tom Brady to have an average playoff TB12 game and lead a solid, well-rounded offensive effort. In order for the Eagles to even have a chance, Foles will have to play out of his mind. As good or better than he played against the Vikings.

The Patriots will keep the Eagles running game locked down and make Foles convert and make plays all game long. The Eagles will, and should, bring blitz more often than usual.

Sporting News Online

Patriots         28
Eagles            24

 

 

NFL: 2018 NFC Champion, Eagles roll to Super Bowl 52

Not only did the Philadelphia Eagles beat the Minnesota Vikings in the NFC Championship, they obliterated them. The Vikings started the game strong with a 9-play, 75 yard drive to get on the board first. Their only points of the game. After a quick four play drive that only amounted to 17 yards, the Eagle punted the ball back to the Vikings who were already nursing a 7-0 lead. That’s when momentum changed.



Full Recap Here:

After driving to the edge of Vikings territory, Case Keenum was pressured in the pocket and tried to heave a ball to one of his receivers. Needless to say they didn’t catch it–Patrick Robinson, an Eagles cornerback, caught it and took in 50 yards for a pick-6.

With the score even at 7-7, the Vikings and Keenum had the ball and a chance to stay in the game. They failed to pick up a single first down and punted the ball back to the Eagles just 90 seconds after they scored. The Eagles took their time, driving 75 yards in over six minutes and scored on a 11-yard run by LeGarrette Blount to give the Eagles their first lead. They never looked back.

Already down 14-7, the Vikes only gained 91 yards of offense in the remaining first half and their defense gave up 150. After a Vikings fumble late in the second quarter, the Eagles put together another 75 yard drive in just over two minutes to pull ahead, 21-7.

Nothing could go right for the Vikings as they managed to punt the ball back to Philly one more time before the half. Foles threw for three consecutive first downs and added 60 passing yards to his total, getting into field goal range with 0:04 left in the first half. Jake Elliott knocked it through from 38 yards out and the Eagles went to the locker room up 24-7 against the best defense in the league.

The Eagles got the ball to start the second half and again, took it 75 yards to pay-dirt to extend their lead to 31-7. Another long drive for the Vikings ended in a turnover as a Keenum to Thielen connection was ruled incomplete on 4th and goal from the seven.

At this point, the Eagles were winning handily and were draining the clock. On a crazy 12-play, 92 yard drive that killed 7:11 off the clock, the Nick Foles connected with wide receiver Alshon Jeffery for their second TD of the night, making Foles’ total three. The score was 38-7, the Vikings had the ball and a few more drives, but nothing came from them. That score is final.



Major Stats:

Ealges:  38                                                              Vikings:  7
QB: N. Foles 26/33, 352 yds, 3 TD                        QB: C. Keenum 28/48, 271 yds, 1 TD, 2 INT
RB: J. Ajayi 18 car, 73 yds                                      RB: J. McKinnon 10 car, 40 yds, 11 rec, 86 yd
RB: L. Blount 6 car, 21 yds, 1 TD                          WR: S. Diggs 8 rec, 70 yds
WR: A. Jeffery 5 rec, 85 yds, 2 TD
TE: Z. Ertz 8 rec, 93 yds



Stacking up against my prediction:

This game is the only game so far that my prediction was WAY off. I predicted a close game, like most people. I predicted a 21-17 game with the Vikings winning. Obviously, that’s way off. It happens. I don’t think anyone predicted a blowout.

About the only aspect of my prediction that stood true was the defensive TD. Foles exceeded my prediction for yards and TDs. Keenum did break 200 yards, but only threw 1 TD. The run game was rough for both teams, so my prediction fell flat their.

The Eagles, home underdogs this weekend, move on and will travel to Minnesota to play against the AFC Champion Patriots in Super Bowl 52 in two weeks. Keep an eye out for a blog breaking down what each team will have to do to win SB52.

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NFL: 2018 AFC Champion, Patriots heading to Super Bowl 52

Yes, the Patriots did win the AFC Championship…again. In their seventh straight appearance in the game, Tom Brady and Bill Belichick did what they seemingly always do–walk away with a spot in the Super Bowl. The Jaguars did themselves proud, fighting until the last drive against the best team in football, but fell short as Blake Bortles and the offense got put in a tough 4th down spot.



Here’s a recap:

After falling behind 3-0 after the first drive, the Jacksonville Jaguars defense held the high-flying offense of the New England defense to just 10-points in the first half. Following the opening drive FG, the Jaguars put together two consecutive 75+ yard drives to lead 14-3 midway through the second quarter.

Leaving too much time on the clock before half, the stingy defense of the Jaguars did what they could to stall the Patriots, but Brady led a 6-play, 85 yard drive to score with less than a minute before halftime. Up 14-10 with a minute left in the first half, the Jaguars took a knee and rode their advantage into the locker room in Foxborough. Star tight end Rob Gronkowski was injured on the drive and wouldn’t return.

The second half was a completely different game for both teams. With the ball out of halftime, the Jaguars looked to push the ball downfield and drive into Patriots territory. A 9-play, 39 yard drive ended in only three points for the Jags as Josh Lambo hit a 54-yard FG, the only points for either team in the third quarter.

Leading 17-10 after three quarters, Bortles and the Jaguars were in position to hold their advantage and seal the game. Holding Tom Brady and the Patriots to zero points in the third, the Jags took their next possession 11-plays, 66 yards in nearly five minutes to get another Lambo FG, to make the score 20-10 with one quarter remaining.

Enter playoff Tom Brady.

To this point, Brady had thrown for 152 yards and no touchdowns. Brady is not new to playing from behind. Just last year, the Brady-led Patriots came back from a 28-3 deficit to beat the Falcons in Super Bowl 51. If anyone can comeback and win big games, it’s Brady and Belichick.

The Jaguars scored their last points, the Lambo FG to take the 20-10 lead, with 14:52 left in the game. Aside from an early fumble, the Patriots owned the fourth quarter.

Tallying 138 more yards, Brady was on another level. With 10 stitches in his throwing hand all game, from an injury earlier this week, Brady finished the game with a solid stat line. Nothing new for him in the playoffs.

After surrendering two touchdowns in the last nine minutes, the Jaguars had the ball and a shot to earn their spot in Super Bowl 52. Down 24-20 just before the two minute warning, the Bortles got the ball on his own 25-yardline but had a long way to go. Needing 75 yards to win the game, Bortles threw for 41 yards but was sacked for seven yards on second down to the Patriots 45 yardline. On the sack, Bortles lost the ball, but luckily one of his linemen recovered for a loss of nine total yards on the play.

Coming out of the two-minute warning, the Jags faced a tough 3rd and 19 from the New England 47. Bortles dumped off a short pass and his receiver, James O’Shaughnessy, managed only four yards, leading to a 4th and 15.

On his last play of the season, Blake Bortles took a shot to receiver Dede Westbrook downfield. In an amazing effort, Patriots cornerback Stephon Gilmore got a hand above Westbrook to break up the play and sink the hopes of the Jaguars.

The exciting game finished with a score of 24-20 with the Patriots claiming the AFC spot in Super Bowl 52.



Major Statistical Impact:

                       Patriots:  24                                                                Jaguars: 20
QB: T. Brady 26/38, 290 yds, 2 TD                           QB: B. Bortles 23/36, 293 yds, 1 TD
RB: D. Lewis 9 car, 34 yds, 7 rec, 32 yds                 RB: L. Fournette 24 car, 76 yds, 1 TD
WR: B. Cooks 6 rec, 100 yds                                      RB: C. Grant 3 rec, 59 yds
WR: D. Amendola 7 rec, 84 yds, 2 TD                     WR: A. Hurns 6 rec, 80 yds



Comparing my prediction:

I’m still confident in my predictions throughout these playoffs. Here are my predictions for this game.

Although Brady didn’t throw any picks, the Jaguars did force a turnover. Brady was held under 300 yards, just, and got the 2 TDs as I predicted. With the early injury to Gronkowski, he wasn’t able to play in the second half, tallying just one reception for 21 yards. I correctly predicted that the Jaguars would lead at halftime, led by Fournette. Though he didn’t eclipse 100 rush yards, he did get 76 and the TD, leading all players.

Keep an eye our for a NFC Championship Recap and Super Bowl 52 preview.

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NFL: 2018 NFC Championship Preview & Prediction

 The top-seeded Minnesota Vikings will take on the third-seeded Philadelphia Eagles at home in the NFC Championship. The game will start at 5:40 pm (central time) on Sunday, Jan. 21 and will air on FOX.

With a combined six Super Bowl appearances between them, the top-seeded Eagles and third-seeded Vikings will face off with the next appearance on the line. The Vikings, currently 4-5 in NFC Championship games and 0-4 in Super Bowls, will have to rely heavily on their league-best defense against the Eagles, led by backup QB Nick Foles. Foles and the Eagles will need to establish their offense early against the Vikings and will look to improve on their 5-5 record in NFC Championship games.

The Vikings are one win away from hosting a Super Bowl, something that has never happened in the history of the NFL. Case Keenum and Nick Foles are not who anyone expected to be playing in the NFC Championship game. Both players are filling in for a starter-Sam Bradford and Carson Wentz, who both suffered knee injuries earlier in the season. With minimal playoff experience, both quarterbacks have big shoes to fill, but will lean on their defenses to stay in the game this weekend.

Both teams have relied on their defenses all season. With a takeaway ratio of +11 and +5 respectively, the Eagles and Vikings will continue to put pressure on the inexperienced players they’re facing.



Case for the Vikings:

With the best defense in the league, the Minnesota Vikings are just one win from playing in the Super Bowl. That Super Bowl, the 52nd, will be played U.S Bank Stadium in Minneapolis, MN–home of the Vikings. To play at home for the Super Bowl for the first time in NFL history, the Vikings will have to get past the top-seeded Philadelphia Eagles.

Riding the best finish in this season playoffs, the Vikings will need to get it done throughout the game against an Eagles team that ranked second, behind Minnesota, in NFC defense. The Vikings average 122 rushing yards per game, putting them seventh in the NFL. The Eagles defense allows an average of less than 80 rushing yards per game, the best in the league. For the Vikings to stay in this game, they will have to give Latavius Murray the ball and earn the yards on the ground.

In the air, Keenum proved himself over and over this season. Averaging 234 yards/game this season, Keenum and the Viking ranked 11th in the league. The Eagles defense gave up just less than that, averaging 227 pass yards allowed/game, ranking them 17th best. Not anything to brag about for the backfield of the Philly defense.

With three big targets in the passing game, Keenum will need to spread the ball out between Theilen, Diggs and Rudolph to disrupt the defensive play of the Eagles.

Case for the Eagles:

After rookie quarterback Carson Wentz went down with a season-ending knee injury, the Eagles could’ve stopped fighting for their season. They had already clinched the NFC East and only had two regular season games left before their first-round bye and the playoffs. Enter Nick Foles.

With a third round pick in the 2012 NFL Draft, the Eagles drafted Foles. Playing only seven games his rookie season, Foles had a TD-INT ratio of 6-5. The next season, Foles stepped up and played 13 games. His stats were astounding, including a 7-TD, 0-INT game, leading him to a TD-INT ratio of 27-2 for the 2013 season. After an average year with Eagles in 2014, Foles began bouncing around between a few NFL teams (Chiefs and Rams) before ending up back in Philadelphia.

Playing in his 51st career NFL game on Sunday, Foles will have to play above average to lead the Eagles to a spot in Super Bowl 52.

The Eagles rank third-best in the league in rushing yards/game, averaging 132. The Vikings defense ranks second in the NFL, behind the Eagles, in rushing defense, allowing just an average of 83 rushing yards/game. The Eagles will need to get LeGarrette Blount running downfield early to keep up with the run defense of the Vikings. If their run game can become a threat, the Eagles can use play-action to their advantage and take some shots downfield. Foles, though he’s been conservative to this point, will need to make plays while remaining smart. To prove himself as a legitimate starter, he’ll need to have a good game and lead the Eagles to their first Super Bowl appearance since 2004 when they lost to the Patriots.



My Prediction:

Both quarterbacks will throw at least an INT. Case Keenum will throw for 200 yards and 2 TDs, Nick Foles will throw for 200 and 1 TD. Murray will run for 100 yards and a TD. Blount and Ajayi will combine for 60 yards and 2 TDs. Theilen, Diggs and Rudolph will combine for 15 receptions and 150 yards. I expect at least one defensive TD in the game.

Vikings: 21
Eagles: 17

For a preview and prediction for the AFC Championship game, CLICK HERE.

NFL: 2018 AFC Championship Preview & Prediction

We all saw how crazy these playoffs can be. If you didn’t, look no further than the end of the Vikings/Saints game last Sunday. Vikings fans everywhere are dubbing it the #MinneapolisMiracle, and for good reason.

If last week was any indication, Championship Sunday could prove to be the best weekend this NFL season. At least, we hope

so.

With just two match ups left, and the winner of each earning a spot in Super Bowl LII in Minnesota, these games have major implications for all four remaining teams.



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The 14-3 New England Patriots will host the 12-6 Jacksonville Jaguars in the AFC Championship in Foxborough, Massachusetts. The game will begin at 2:05 pm (central time) on Sunday, Jan. 21 and will air on CBS.

In the AFC Championship, the #1 ranked New England Patriots will take on the #3 ranked Jacksonville Jaguars at home in Gillette Stadium. With a strong advantage in the playoffs, Tom Brady hopes to claim a spot in the Super Bowl for the second straight season. In their first playoff appearance in 10 years, Blake Bortles and the Jaguars will rely on their strong defense and rookie running back Leonard Fournette to beat the top team of the AFC.

Case for the Patriots: 1600x900-patsplayers2016b-wallpaper

The Pats have been one of the most consistently good NFL teams throughout my life. Tom Brady and Bill Belichick have a connection unlike any other duo in the league, and have uncanny ability to finish out games.

Just last season, the Patriots were down 28-3 to the Falcons in the biggest game of the season, Super Bowl LI. In one of the biggest comebacks in NFL Playoff history, they battled back and won 34-28 in the first ever Super Bowl to go to overtime.

Best Comeback in NFL History?

Although it’s not the same exact team, this years Patriots still have Brady and Belichick. That might be enough to beat the Jaguars and move on. With a regular season record of 13-3, the Patriots will have to beat the stingy Jaguars defense if they hope to advance.

Brady comes into the weekend with a 32-8 TD-INT rate, but will have to make smart throws all game to keep the four pro-bowl bound Jaguars defenders on their toes. In addition to Brady, the Patriots have two 1,000 yard receivers this season, Gronkowski and Cooks, as well as a running back core that has rushed nearly 1,800 yards. They rank first in total yards per game and second in the NFL in points scored (28.6/game).

Making their seventh straight AFC Championship appearance, the Pats know how to win big games, and know what it takes to make their opponents beat them.

Case for the Jaguars: 

It won’t be easy. The Jaguars finished the regular season 10-6 and are the only team left in the playoffs that didn’t finish 13-3. It took a shootout, but the Jags came away with a win in Pittsburgh against Big Ben and one of the best offenses in the league. With the second best defense in the league, behind the Vikings, the Jaguars also have the best rush offense.

Rookie running back Leonard Fournette, one of two rookies with 1,000+ rushing yards this season, will need a big game against the 12th worst rush defense in the league. Averaging 140 yards per game, the Jaguars will need to exceed that number against a defense that allows an average of just 114 yards on the ground per game.

Another major factor to consider is the quarterback match up. Granted, both QB’s won’t be on the field at the same time, but each playcaller will have to shine while they have possession.. Tom Brady has proven himself with 35 career playoff starts, including last week against the Titans, while Bortles has only two, both this season.

The best chance for the Jaguars to escape Foxborough with a win is to challenge Tom Brady and the Patriots receivers on every play. Sure, the defensive line is great, too. Calais Campbell and Yannick Ngakoue are monsters for the team, as are linebackers Telvin Smith and Miles Jack. What really sets the Jaguars defense apart is the cornerback duo of Jalen Ramsey and A. J. Bouye that 10 of the teams 21 INTS this season, good for second best in the league.

Smith will prove to be a tough match up for Patriots star Rob Gronkowski. Ramsey will cover the best receiver on the field, which will either be Gronkowski or Cooks, depending on the situation. The Jaguars will have to flex their stars in the biggest game of the season to beat Brady and prove to the world how good they are.



My Prediction:

Tom Brady will throw for less 300 yards, 2 TD 2 INT against Ramsey and the star studded defense of the Jaguars. The Jaguars will hold a lead at halftime, led by Fournette. In an exciting finish, the Blake Bortles will have the ball for one last drive to prove himself. Either he will, or he won’t. I expect 100+ rushing yards and a TD from Fournette, 100+ receiving yards from Gronkowski and big defensive plays on both sides.

Patriots: 30
Jaguars: 27

NFL: 2018 Divisional Round Review

This weekend, like many NFL Playoff weekends before it, was a roller coaster for many fans. From unsurprising wins to shootout thrillers, the four divisional round games were a dream for most sports fans. I’ve already published a review of the Eagles/Falcons game in another blog. Click here for that.

Saturday Games:

It wasn’t pretty. It wasn’t easy, but the Eagles edged the Falcons in the early game on Saturday with a final score of 15-10 to claim their spot in the NFC Championship, next weekend.


                                                                            Notable Stats:
                       PHI:  15                                                                          ATL:   10
QB: N. Foles  23/30, 246 yards                                    QB: M. Ryan 23/36, 210 yards, 1 TD
K: J. Elliott 3/3, 9 pts.                                                    WR: J. Jones 9 rec, 101 yards


In the second game on Saturday, the Patriots took care of business. After trailing 7-0 in the first quarter, the Patriots went on a 35-0 run and won handily 35-14. With a spot in the AFC Championship game for the seventh straight season, the Patriots, led by Tom Brady and Bill Belichick, are continuing their legacy.


                                                                          Notable Stats:
                      NE:    35                                                                           TEN:   14
QB: T. Brady 35/53, 337 yards, 3 TD                           QB: M. Mariota 22/37, 254 yards, 2 TD
WR: D. Amendola 11 rec, 112 yards                             WR: E. Decker 9 rec, 85 yards


Sunday Games:

The second day of the weekend proved more exciting, starting with a shootout in Pittsburgh. Down 21-0 early, the Steelers battled back to a one possession game with just over two minutes left. After the TD run by Le’Veon Bell, the Jaguars drained the clock down to 1:45 and got a FG out of the drive, making the score 45-35. In the ensuing drive, the Steelers went 75 yards in 1:44 to make it 45-42, but it was too little, too late. The Jaguars escaped with the W and are moving onto the AFC Championship game next weekend against the Patriots.


                                                                         Notable Stats:
                        JAX:   45                                                                          PIT:   42
QB: B. Bortles 14/26, 214 yards, 1 TD                        QB: B. Roethlisberger 37/58, 469 yards,                     RB: L. Fournette 109 yards, 3 TD                                                           5 TD, 1 INT                                                                                                                                                WR: A. Brown 7 rec, 132 yards, 2 TD


The last game of the weekend was one that will be remembered for years. In a battle for a spot against the Eagles in the NFC Championship, the Vikings and Saints left it all on the field. With huge performances from their star receivers, both teams made the game a thriller, down to the last second. Down 17-0 at half, the Saints battled back and took a 21-20 lead after an Alvin Kamara TD with 3:01 left in the game.

The next three minutes led to THREE lead changes. The Vikings drove 40 yards in 1:32 and kicker Kai Forbath connected on a 53 yard FG with 1:34 remaining. The Saints took the ensuing drive 50 yards in 1:04 to set up a 43 yard FG by Wil Lutz. Down 24-23 with just 10 seconds left on the clock, Case Keenum delivered a strike to Stefon Diggs around the 35 yardline with hopes of getting in field goal range. Diggs somehow managed to elude all three defenders attempting to tackle him and sprinted into the endzone with 0:00 left on the clock. Game. The Viking escaped the Saints with an incredible 29-24 win.


                                                                       Notable Stats:
                     MIN:    29                                                                           NO:    24
QB: C. Keenum 25/40, 318 yards, 1 TD                        QB: D. Brees 25/40, 294 yards, 3 TD
WR: S. Diggs 6 rec, 137 yards, 1 TD                               WR: M. Thomas 7 rec, 85 yards, 2 TD


Let’s compare my predictions for the Divisional games to the actual final scores:

NE vs. TEN:
Prediction:     34-13 (Patriots)
Reality:           35-14 (Patriots)

JAX vs. PIT:
Prediction:     17-15 (Steelers)
Reality:           45-42 (Jaguars)

MIN vs. NO:
Prediction:     34-28 (Vikings)
Reality:           29-24 (Vikings)

Overall, I feel happy with my predictions. I got two of the three games right and was close on both those scores. In the JAX/PIT game, I predicted either a low scoring affair, or a shootout. We got a shootout, so I feel good about that prediction too.

If this weekend is any indication of how the 2017 NFL Playoffs will continue, we’re all in for an exciting weekend of Conference Championships. Look for a blog covering a preview and predictions of the AFC/NFC Championship games in the next few days.