NFL Playoff Picture 2018: AFC, NFC Championship Scenarios, Picks After Saturday

NFL Playoff Picture 2018: AFC, NFC Championship Scenarios, Picks After Saturday

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We’re down to six teams remaining in the NFL playoff field after the New England Patriots and Philadelphia Eagles won their divisional-round matchups on Saturday.

Two more games will take place on Sunday as the Jacksonville Jaguars face the Pittsburgh Steelers while the New Orleans Saints take on the Minnesota Vikings.

You can find the NFL playoff picture below as well as breakdowns of the four remaining conference championship scenarios.

              

Divisional Round

Sunday, January 14, at 1:05 p.m. ET on CBS and CBS All Access: No. 3 Jacksonville Jaguars at No. 2 Pittsburgh Steelers

Sunday, January 14, at 4:40 p.m. ET on Fox and Fox Sports Go: No. 4 New Orleans Saints at No. 2 Minnesota Vikings

                                             

Conference Championships

Sunday, January 21, at 3 p.m. ET: AFC Championship on CBS and CBS All Access (Jacksonville Jaguars or Pittsburgh Steelers at New England Patriots)

Sunday, January 21, at 6:30 p.m. ET: NFC Championship on Fox and Fox Sports Go (Minnesota Vikings or New Orleans Saints at Philadelphia Eagles)

                                       

Super Bowl LII

Sunday, February 4, at 6:30 p.m. ET: AFC champion vs. NFC champion on NBC and NBC Sports Live (game will be played in Minneapolis)

       

Divisional Round Picks

Steelers 20, Jaguars 10

Vikings 24, Saints 16

        

Conference Championship Scenarios

Jaguars at Patriots or Steelers at Patriots

These two potential matchups are fascinating, albeit for different reasons.

From an X-and-O perspective, a Jaguars vs. Patriots conference championship would be fantastic. Notably, how will the Patriots offense, which scored 28.6 points per game this season, attack a Jaguars defense that allowed just 170 passing yards per contest?

Furthermore, if the Jaguars beat the 13-3 Steelers in Heinz Field for a second time this season, they’d be riding a massive momentum high heading into Gillette Stadium.

That being said, the Jags’ lack of playoff experience prior to this season (Jacksonville missed the playoffs from 2008-2016) could be a factor against a Patriots team that has made the postseason 15 out of the last 17 years. In fact, the Pats’ only two misses were because they were on the wrong end of a division-winning tiebreaker twice in 2002 and 2008.

If the home team holds serve in the AFC divisional round, however, then we will see a conference title matchup featuring two teams that have combined for 11 Super Bowl wins. Pittsburgh leads all NFL franchises with six Super Bowl titles, while the Pats are tied for second with five.

Barring any injuries (knock on wood), this would somehow mark the only time that all three of the Killer Bs (the Steelers’ Le’Veon Bell, Ben Roethlisberger and Antonio Brown) would share the field with Patriots quarterback Tom Brady and tight end Rob Gronkowski.

Whether due to injury or suspension, all five have never been on the field for an entire game even though the Steelers and Pats have played five times since 2013. Therefore, we would finally see how these teams fare with the superstars all out there.

                   

Saints vs. Eagles or Vikings vs. Eagles

Eagles defensive tackle Fletcher Cox can make a case that he’s the best defensive player in the league not named Aaron Donald, who has made First-Team All-Pro three times in his four seasons with the St. Louis and Los Angeles Rams.

The 27-year-old caused serious problems for the Falcons’ interior linemen on Saturday night, and he played a big part in holding Atlanta running back Devonta Freeman to just seven yards on 10 carries. Cox finished the game with seven tackles, two quarterback hits and a sack.

It will be fascinating to see whether Cox and the rest of the Eagles’ front seven can do as well against the stout Saints rushing attack led by Alvin Kamara and Mark Ingram. Those two have combined for 3,000 yards from scrimmage and have created havoc for opposing defenses all year. Would Philadelphia be added to that list or can the Eagles shut down the New Orleans attack at home?

On the flip side, if the Vikings win, then we’ll see two long-time franchises that have six conference titles but zero Super Bowl wins go toe to toe for the right to fight for the Lombardi Trophy.

A Vikings-Eagles game might look a bit similar to the one Atlanta and Philadelphia just played, in that it could be a low-scoring affair. However, Minnesota’s stronger front seven would likely have better luck stopping the Jay Ajayi runs and Nick Foles run-pass options that doomed the Falcons on Saturday night.

That being said, the Vikings offense could have a tough time against an Eagles defense that has allowed just 26 points in their past three games.

Ultimately, a Vikings-Eagles matchup could go down to the wire.

Breaking Sports News

via Bleacher Report – Front Page http://ift.tt/yO6Sgr

January 14, 2018 at 07:19AM

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