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Conference Championship Round

Posted on: January 18th, 2018 by Rob Popeleski No Comments

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Jacksonville @ New England (Sunday 3:05)

The 2nd ranked offense behind the 2nd ranked passing game of New England meets the 2nd ranked defense and the leagues top passing defense in Jacksonville. The weakness of the Jacksonville defense has been their run defense so New England may look to attack this on the ground with Dion Lewis. Tom Brady has been sacked 8 times in New England’s 3 losses this year. Jacksonville was 2nd in the league this year with 55 sacks. Another interesting matchup will be the fast linebackers from Jacksonville against Rob Gronkowski. Jacksonville has allowed the 5th fewest receiving yards to tight ends this year. Despite the good game last week from Blake Bortles, look for Bill Belichick and Matt Patricia to focus on stopping Leonard Fournette while forcing Bortles to beat them. New England held Derrick Henry to just 28 yards last week. New England is great at taking away what other teams do best. In the end, I like the experienced New England team at home with Brady over a young and inexperienced Jacksonville team with Bortles on the road. New England 34-20

Minnesota @ Philadelphia (Sunday 6:40)

This should be a defensive battle featuring the top-ranked defense in Minnesota and the 4th ranked defense in Philadelphia. Both teams are very good against the run while Minnesota is very good against the pass. One of the big concerns for them is the health of safety Andrew Sendejo. The Minnesota defense didn’t look the same when he left last weeks game. Coach Mike Zimmer sounded optimistic that he’ll play this week but Sendejo is in the concussion protocol. The biggest weakness for Philadelphia is their pass defense where they were ranked just 17th this year even though they held Matt Ryan to just 210 yards last week. Case Keenum threw for 318 yards last week against New Orleans. Another concern for Minnesota is that Adam Theilen didn’t practice on Wednesday. The Minnesota offense takes a big hit if he doesn’t play but I’d be surprised if he doesn’t.  It’s not a quarterback matchup that anyone could’ve predicted but Nick Foles and Case Keenum played well last week. This game could come down to whoever plays better this week. Despite being on the road, I have more confidence in Keenum and their defense than I do Foles and the Philadelphia defense. Should be close. Minnesota 20-17