2018 NFL Playoff Conference Final Expert PicksNoah Williams
Two big questions are looming for NFL bettors heading into this coming weekend’s pair of conference championship showdowns.
First, can Blake Bortles and the Jacksonville Jaguars pull off what would be a monumental upset to take out Tom Brady and the favored New England Patriots in the AFC title tilt in their quest to reach Super Bowl 52?
Second, should the Minnesota Vikings even be favored to beat the Philadelphia Eagles at home after seeing both teams’ respective NFC divisional round victories this past weekend?
If you’re looking for a pair of expert picks on both conference final clashes, then look no further…I’ve got you covered!
2018 NFL Playoff Conference Final Expert Picks
What: AFC Final
Who: Jacksonville Jaguars (12-6) at New England Patriots (14-3)
When: Sunday, January 21, 2018 at 3:05 PM ET
Where: Gillette Stadium, Foxborough, MA
NFL Odds: New England -9
Analysis: Like everyone else, I’m highly impressed with Jacksonville’s highly successful 2017 season as well as their stunning upset over the Pittsburgh Steelers in the AFC divisional round. Having said that, I’m also pretty damned confident that this is where Jacksonville’s season will finally come to an end, even though it really pains me to say that, seeing as how I hate the front-running Patriots with a passion.
Still New England is a team that doesn’t beat itself with silly turnovers and one, whose future Hall of Fame quarterback just makes the right read time and time again to advance his team down the field – and usually into his opponents’ end zone. Yes, the Jags will have a chance to pull off the upset if they can manage to run the ball effectively and keep the score close heading into the final quarter, but I’d say the odds of that happening are slim at best.
The most likely scenario I see is that Jacksonville plays one helluva’ game to keep the final score respectable while covering the spread as a 9-point road dog. If you didn’t know, new England is an awful 2-6 ATS in their last eight conference championship games and that tells me Jacksonville has an excellent chance to cover the chalk!
Expert AFC Conference Pick: Jacksonville -9
What: NFC Final
Who: Minnesota Vikings (14-3) at Philadelphia Eagles (14-3)
When: Sunday, January 21, 2018 at 6:40 PM ET
Where: Lincoln Financial Field, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
NFL Odds: Minnesota -3.5
Analysis: Minnesota needed a miraculous play – and a completely boneheaded one – from New Orleans Saints safety Marcus Williams on the game’s final play to advance to the NFC Championship, but right now, I love Vikings’ chances to get past Philadelphia to advance to Super Bowl 52.
Minnesota has the league’s top-ranked defense and right now, Philadelphia looks like a completely different team offensively under backup quarterback Nick Foles from the one that ranked second in the league in scoring under their super gifted second-year signal-caller Carson Wentz.
Philadelphia got one rushing touchdown from veteran running back LeGarrette Blount and three field goals to get past an Atlanta team that struggled to score this season, but I believe they’ll find the going much more difficult against a Vikings defense that finished the regular season ranked first in total defense, second against both, the pass and run and first in points allowed (15.8 ppg).
Philly has not scored more than 19 points in their last three games dating back to the regular season and is averaging just 17 points in their four games since losing their franchise signal-caller against the Rams late in Week 14. The Vikings are 5-1 ATS in their last 6 road games and 8-3 ATS in their last 11 games following a straight-up win while Philadelphia has gone 0-4 ATS in their last four games following a SU win. I am picking Minnesota to win and cover the spread by harassing Nick Foles into a couple of costly turnovers while shutting down Philly’s third-ranked rushing attack as well.