NFL – Conference Championships
We’re down to 4 teams on the road to Super Bowl LII after a dramatic Divisional Round in the NFL. The Vikings recorded one of the most remarkable victories of all-time over the Saints to set up a NFC showdown with the Eagles, while the Jaguars beat the Steelers in Pittsburgh for a second time this season & will now face the Patriots to decide the best in the AFC. The Wolf is making Over 46 points in the Patriots and Jaguars game as his best bet of the week.
|Jacksonville @ New England
|Over 46 ($1.91)|
|Minnesota @ Philadelphia
|Minnesota -3 ($1.91)|
Jacksonville @ New England – (Mon 7:05am)
The Jaguars will travel to Foxborough as 9-point underdogs and it looks a complete mismatch on paper if you compare Jaguars quarterback, Blake Bortles against arguably the greatest quarterback of all-time, Tom Brady. The Jaguars defeated the Steelers in Pittsburgh for a second time this season, but what was even more amazing was the 45-points they put on them. Most of those 45 points came through the power-running of rookie running back Leonard Fournette, who rushed for 109 yards from 25 carries and crossed for three touchdowns. The Patriots should have success limiting the effectiveness of Fournette on the ground, especially with the likely return of Alan Branch. Titans running back Derrick Henry could only manage 28 yards from his 12 carries in last week’s divisional game against the Patriots. The other issue for the Jaguars is the health status of Fournette after he picked up an ankle injury in the win over the Steelers. It’s something to monitor as Fournette made just 27 yards on 13 carries after suffering the ankle injury. The Jaguars are going to have to throw the ball to stay in the contest and could have some success. Patriots cornerback Malcolm Butler is an outstanding player, but he can exposed as well. He gave up two touchdowns to rookie Titans wide receiver, Corey Davis last week and it could be a match-up that either Dede Westbrook or Marqise Lee looks to exploit. Tom Brady will target his running backs (Dion Lewis, James White & Rex Burkhead) in the passing game and should have great success doing it, especially after what Le’Veon Bell did against the Jaguars last week, going for 88 yards from 9 receptions and scoring a TD. Then the Jaguars will need to find a way to stop the man mountain, Rob Gronkowski. They won’t! The Wolf is worried about the back door cover by the Jaguars to confidently back the Patriots -9, but does think this could be a sneaky shootout, at least early on. The overs is 4-0 in the Patriots last 4 playoff games and 7-0 in their last 7 playoff home games, while the overs is 5-0 in the Jaguars’ last 5 games following a win and they have now scored 30+ points in five of their last seven games.
Minnesota @ Philadelphia – (Mon 10:40am)
As Vikings QB Case Keenum pointed out in a recent press conference, not many experts could have predicted a NFC Conference Championship game, featuring Keenum and back-up Eagles QB, Nick Foles. Both sides have outstanding defences, and it will be the quarterback who can manage their offence the best that wins the game as you know what you’re getting from both the Eagles’ and Vikings’ defence. The Eagles lead the NFL in quarterback hits and had 11 hits and 3 sacks against Falcons QB Matt Ryan last week. It will be up to Keenum to get rid of the ball quickly and find his receivers, led by last week’s hero Stefon Diggs. Keenum could have success if he can get Diggs or Adam Thielen on burnable Eagles corner, Jalen Mills. The Vikings will also need to put last week’s thrilling Divisional Round win over the Saints behind them, especially in the tough environment that they’ll face in Philadelphia. The major issue for the Eagles is that they will be relying on Nick Foles to win them the game if the defence doesn’t stack up. The Vikings limited Saints running backs, Alvin Kamara and Mark Ingram to a combined 68 rushing yards last week and should be able to shut down Jay Ajayi and any of the other Eagles running backs. The only reason the Saints stayed in the contest with the Vikings, was through the arm of future hall of fame quarterback Drew Brees, who dissected the Vikings defence in the second half. The Wolf isn’t crazy enough to compare Brees and Foles, with the mismatch speaking for itself. Keenum has proven himself above average throughout this season, while the jury is still out on Foles despite last week’s win over the Falcons. The Vikings also look to have a few more weapons on offence through Diggs and Thielen, while the Eagles No.1 receiver Alshon Jeffery will be shut down by outstanding cornerback, Xavier Rhodes. The Vikings are 5-1 ATS in their last 6 road games, while the Eagles are 1-4 ATS in their last 5 playoff games. The Wolf is predicting that the Vikings will be playing Super Bowl LII in their own backyard, with Tom Brady and the Pats coming to town.