In the AFC title game Sunday, the small-market Jacksonville Jaguars will be vying for their first Super Bowl appearance against the New England Patriots - a team that plays in a huge market and has a large national following along with five Super Bowl titles, including a comeback win over the Atlanta Falcons previous year.
Back from that vacation and now settled down with kids in Elk River, the real estate agent was slumped on the couch at end of the Vikings' NFC divisional playoff game Sunday.
Finally, after a week of breaking down the game, Eliot and Matt both give their final prediction for Sunday. Overall the visiting teams are 6-9 SU in the NFC Championship Game over the last 15 years and 3-12 SU in the AFC Championship Game.
With the weather expected to be much nicer than it's been for either of the Birds' last three games, it's tempting to take the over, but everything else about this one is screaming under. Forget all the storylines you've heard this week, and say these 16 words out loud with me: "Case Keenum is not going to come into the Linc and win the NFC Championship Game".
Police are warning Philadelphia business owners that they can not guarantee their safety should the Eagles win.
As I wrote on Friday, getting pressure on Case Keenum will be key to shutting down the Vikings offense on Sunday. Just like the Vikings' thrilling win last week over the Saints, one play would decide whether Minnesota would advance in the postseason.
The teams that have conquered New England in the playoffs have usually had a Cadillac pass rush - think 2015 Denver Broncos - and Jacksonville has that, as its regular-season tally of 55 sacks attests. Bradford, now back in uniform as Keenum's backup, blew out a knee in the first month of the season, as did rookie running back in Cook, who needed reconstructive surgery to fix a torn ACL.
Given his solid protection from the offensive line and noteworthy ability to evade the rush, Bortles has been hard to corral, with just a 4.4% sack rate on the year (tied for sixth-lowest of any starter). Now an established power, New England would no longer bring up the rear in terms of the NFL's playoff offerings - two more dates against the Colts would shatter records at the time, and even another AFC title tilt against the Steelers would garner over 44 million fans in 2005 (for the 2004 playoffs). "I don't really believe in destiny or anything, but if there is such a thing, that was it".
The Falcons beat the Minnesota Vikings in the NFC title game, then lost to Denver, 34-19, in Super Bowl XXXIII in Miami. But if the Eagles are unable to run the ball and protect Nick Foles it will be hard for anyone, even Ertz, to put up numbers in this game. And this time of year, that can often be good enough. I could conjure up a clever, tidy explanation for this, but it's most likely because there are two football games instead of one.
But what will fans' premonitions be if the Vikings trail the Eagles late in Sunday's game? So I think it's easy to get pessimistic about stuff.
"We're young, we're hungry and we want it right now", Vikings defensive tackle Linval Joseph said. He joined the Eagles this season and took over the starting job when Carson Wentz tore his ACL last month. "Then you have a chance to win them at the end". Philadelphia allowed a league-low average of 79.2 yards against the run, with the Vikings not far behind with an average of only 83.6 yards. The Vikings winning it all in the first rendition was fun, but I only went.500 on the final four participants.
Cole, an undrafted rookie from tiny Kentucky Wesleyan, had 42 catches for 748 yards and three scores in the regular season.
"Last year, we hit an emotional chord with audiences as we provided three heroes with an unforgettable experience and helped reunite them with their families", said Dean Evans, CMO, Hyundai Motor America.
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