McGon’s Picks: NFL Conference Championships

CFB18A1C-8C7F-4373-8632-157986B3FF5CWild-Card Weekend was wild, but the Divisional Round easily exceeded it…

…including another classic Saints-Vikings playoff game. That was arguably one of the most unbelievable plays we have ever seen. The Vikings still needed a lot of yards for a field goal, and they could not throw it over the middle as they were out of timeouts. If Marcus Williams contains Stefon Diggs and forces him out of bounds, the Vikings would have had to attempt a long field goal. However, if Williams had connected with Diggs, he would have went to the ground and I would be writing about how the Saints are going to beat the Eagles on Sunday.

The Saturday games were not as great, but at least we got an exciting finish to the Falcons-Eagles game. The Falcons come up short once again in heartbreaking fashion as the Eagles were able to grab an ugly win. The Patriots were the Patriots, and that’s the only thing to say about that one. And what an unbelievable early Sunday game, with the Steelers already focused on avenging the Patriots, only to give up 45 points at home to Blake Bortles and the Jaguars.

The picks were tough once again, and it’s clear that a couple bounces and plays decided who’d win the spread in these ones. I went 2-2 straight up, and 1-2-1 against the spread. Here’s a look back at the picks I made (winning team in red, spread winner in red):

Falcons (-2.5) at Eagles

My Pick: Falcons 23, Eagles 13 

  • Eagles 15, Falcons 10- Although I was wrong here, what I’ve been essentially saying for much of the season is that the Falcons are frauds. Some weeks (such as vs. Rams) they show last season’s potential and look great on both sides of the ball. Other weeks, their offense cannot get anything going and they look like a below average team, this week losing to Nick Foles. Much credit to the Eagles defense, however. The Eagles rode the underdog at home mentality to get the upset win.

Titans (+13.5) at Patriots

My Pick: Patriots 31, Titans 20

  • Patriots 35, Titans 14- When the Titans went up 7-0 early, I didn’t think they would win, but I thought this pick looked safe and they were going to battle against the Patriots. Then, the Patriots went back to being the Patriots, bullying less superior teams at home in the playoffs, and covering as well. A win on Sunday will send Tom Brady to his 8th Super Bowl.

Jaguars (+7) at Steelers

My Pick: Steelers 21, Jaguars 17

  • Jaguars 45, Steelers 42- This game lost a lot of attention after how the later game ended, but what an unbelievable performance by the Jacksonville Jaguars, and unbelievable game overall as well. If you were to say the Steelers were going to put up 42 points on the best defense in the NFL, then I would have bet my entire college tuition on the Steelers winning and covering. Blake Bortles, Leonard Fournette, and the rest of the Jags offense had the game of their lives to win in Pittsburgh for the second time this season. The Jaguars did not appreciate that the Steelers were already thinking about the Patriots, and hopefully they can do the same in New England this weekend.

Saints (+5) at Vikings

My Pick: Vikings 24, Saints 21

  • Vikings 29, Saints 24- You all have heard every analysis possible about the last play of the game went down, so I’m going to focus on how the last play effected the spread. Had the Vikings not scored, I would have nailed the spread but not the winner. Had Stefon Diggs been forced out and Kai Forbath made a winning kick, I would have nailed the spread and cover. But after the TD, things got even more confusing as the PAT was delayed for several minutes. Had the Vikings kicked, I would have had a horrific beat losing the spread but picking Vikings correctly. However, the Vikings made the class decision to take a knee, which lead to me pushing, and impacting many other gamblers who had the spread at either 5 or 5.5. What an ending.

2017 Playoffs Straight-Up: 4-4, 2017 Playoffs Vs. Spread: 2-5-1

Time for the second best Sunday of the year, Championship Sunday.

Image result for blake bortles gif

Jaguars (+7.5) at Patriots

Patriots 27, Jaguars 23

  • Listen, I don’t think the football Gods could ever allow Blake Bortles to win at Tom Brady’s house with a trip to the Super Bowl on the line. Year in and year out, the Pats have crushed inexperienced teams and QBs at home in the playoffs. However, the Jags don’t need to rely on Bortles, and the rest of this team does not play like an inexperienced team. While Pittsburgh is not New England, the Jaguars went in and put up 45 points at one of the toughest venues to win a road playoff game. I think the Jaguars defense plays a lot better this week, Fournette has another big game, and Bortles does enough. This spread has decreased from 9 to 7.5, so I like the Jaguars to go in and cover. However, this Patriots team is too good. They may not have the explosiveness to put up as many points as the Steelers did, but their offense is still ran incredibly well and their defense should be able to do their job against an iffy Jacksonville offense. I have the Patriots winning a close game to go on to another Super Bowl.

  • 2015 Jaguars-Patriots matchup, the last time these teams met.

  • These teams last met in the playoffs in the 2007 Divisional Round, with the Patriots winning to keep their undefeated season alive (just had really bad memories after typing that).

Vikings (-3) at Eagles

Vikings 20, Eagles 13

  • Don’t doubt the Eagles. They have had a great season, and just about every player who has contributed to this season will be playing, obviously except for the most important player. So especially on the defensive side of the ball, the Eagles are as hungry as ever. So while I learned that the Eagles shouldn’t be doubted last week, I also learned that the Falcons are frauds. And you know what else I learned last week? The Vikings are not. Obviously the last play was a bit of a fluke, but the Vikings overall played a great game last week despite the Saints second half comeback. Last week’s big moment made it feel like this team is destined to be the first team to host the Super Bowl and play in it. The Eagles defense could definitely give Case Keenum problems in their own building, so I see this being a low scoring game. However, the Vikings defense is much better than the Falcons’, and I see them shutting down Nick Foles for the majority of the day. The Vikings will win a one score game to advance back home for the Super Bowl.

  • 2016 Vikings-Eagles matchup, the last time these teams met (two different starting QBs).

  • These teams last met in the playoffs in the 2004 Divisional Round, with the Eagles winning en route to facing the Patriots in Super Bowl XXXIX (will history repeat itself?).

Let’s hope we’ll be talking about a Vikings-Jaguars Super Bowl for the next two weeks. Be back in two weeks for my Super Bowl prediction as well as numerous prop bets which you can lose all your money on. Can either of these games be great enough to stack up to the all time greats?

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