This past weekends Divisional Round may have just outdone the Wildcard Round in terms of jaw-dropping moments and thrilling plays. From the first game on Saturday to the finale on Sunday, fans were treated to some high quality football(Yes, I’ll throw the Titans in there). The Eagles pulled the upset, when Vegas and many others were loving the Falcons a bit too much. The dog masks were an awesome troll and as much as i dislike the Eagles, I give em a tip of the ole cap for that one. New England was business as usual, steamrolling Tennessee en route to their 7th straight AFC Championship. That’s insane, I don’t care what team you root for, you have to applaud the greatness that is New England.
Jacksonville pulled off the shocker of 2018, so far, by walking into Pittsburgh and beating the Steelers. Nobody gave Blake and his band of misfits a chance even though they had already achieved this feat once before. I definitely didn’t expect the points to come as easy as they did. But perhaps most thrilling of all was the conclusion of the Minnesota/New Orleans game. My jaw nearly hit the floor as Diggs streaked toward the end zone. I had Minnesota -5 so the lack of a PAT kind of grinded my gears, but I also fully expected to lose bet about 20 seconds before that so… #blessed.
With that we move forward to more enticing matchups on Sunday January 21st. The first matchup on Sunday will be for the AFC crown between the Jacksonville Jaguars and the New England Patriots at 3:05 pm ET. Following that game, we will see the NFC championship between the Minnesota Vikings and the Philadelphia Eagles at 6:30 pm ET. I’ll have another article on the NFC game tomorrow so look for that in the Articles tab.
Let’s dive deeper into this matchup:
Jacksonville versus New England (-7.5) Total O/U 45
The Jaguars will have another tough test in their quest for their first Super Bowl appearance in franchise history. Could you imagine, of all the franchise quarterbacks Jacksonville has had, Blake Bortles is the one leading this team to it’s first big dance. Not Mark Brunell, not Byron Leftwich nor David Garrard, but Blake.
The question is how far does Blake have to take this team in the postseason to ensure his place on the roster next season? Bortles has been up and down all year and I’m sure Bill Belichick’s squad is gonna do everything in their power to put the onus on #5 to beat them this Sunday.
The keys to the game for the Jaguars in this game will be to establish the passing game to open up holes for Leonard Fournette. Even though New England ranks 31st in passing, throwing will be a tough task as the secondary for the Pats has played a lot better during the second half of the season. Their defensive numbers were mostly inflated by a terrible start to the season. They are 5th in the NFL in points per game, so don’t look for the Jags to put up 45 points again like last week.
Blake Bortles will need to make safe but effective decisions if he wants to give his team a chance to win the game. Only one visiting team has ever won the AFC championship in Foxborough, Massachusetts. It’s seems like a tall order to think this Jags team will be the second to do it.
The new trendy speculation of the week has been Tom Brady’s hand injury. Concern over Brady’s hand generated a small flurry of bets on the Jaguars on Thursday, with the line dropping New England from 9.5 to 7.5-point favorites at most Las Vegas sportsbooks. Bookmakers also figured the line could drop the Patriots to being 3-point favorites if Brady were to be ruled out. Brady not playing is VERY HIGHLY UNLIKELY…
Nevertheless his hand injury has moved the line where many sharps and betting prognosticators believe it should be. The #1 QB versus the #1 defense and you’re spotting the defense 7.5
Defense wins championships, they say, and that’s the real X-factor to this whole game. Jacksonville’s defense is built incredibly similar to the defenses that have defeated Brady in the past. Good front four’s with above average secondaries. The line possesses the ability to create pressure and “punch” Brady in the mouth. But Brady knows this and has countered with much more talented offensive lines than in those years. The Patriots are 1st in the NFL in yards per game, 2nd in points per game and 3rd in yards per play. Those are three crucial stats to the game if the Pats expect to come out on top.The Jaguars defense has counter answers though. Their defense is #1 against the pass, 2nd in points per game and 1st in yards per play.
Many people are stumped at which way they lean and rightfully so. Both teams have glaring weaknesses but are covering them up with extremely solid strengths. You have youth versus experience in this game and it’s really hard to pick a side. That being said…
THE PICK: NEW ENGLAND -7.5 and UNDER 45