From an Upset in Steeltown to the Miracle in Minneapolis, the NFL’s divisional round provided plenty of excitement and drama. Will the conference championship round be able to live up to expectations? The Jacksonville Jaguars have another opportunity to prove their detractors wrong against a New England Patriots side that will play in its seventh straight conference championship game. Meanwhile, the Minnesota Vikings survived a date with the New Orleans Saints thanks to a miracle touchdown in the dying seconds of their NFC showdown. Now the Vikings will be a slight favorite on the road against a Philadelphia Eagles side that has embraced the underdog role. Here is your betting rundown for the NFL Conference Championship Week.
Jacksonville Jaguars @ New England Patriots
Line: New England -9.5
Just when it seemed as though absolutely everybody had written off the Jaguars, they respond with a 45-42 win over the Pittsburgh Steelers to advance to the AFC championship game. Blake Bortles threw for 214 yards and a touchdown. Leonard Fournette ran for 109 yards and three touchdowns. While their top-ranked defense gave up 42 points, they also scored a touchdown off a forced fumble and set up another score with an interception. Still, Jacksonville will remain a significant underdog on the road against New England this week. The Patriots absolutely dismantled the Tennessee Titans in a 35-14 win last week and will be a 9.5-point favorite at home. Tom Brady threw for 337 yards and three touchdowns against the Titans and will need to be even better against a tougher defense this week. Meanwhile, the key on offense could very well be the running back tandem of Dion Lewis and James White, who combined for 181 yards from scrimmage and two scores against Tennessee. The Patriots defense set a franchise record with eight sacks on Marcus Mariota last week. They will need to contain Fournette and try to force Bortles to move the football through the air this week. The key for the Jaguars will be to play with the lead. They’re at their best when that’s the case.
Minnesota Vikings @ Philadelphia Eagles
Line: Minnesota -3.5
The Vikings won’t be the underdog when they travel to Philadelphia on Sunday. However, they will be trying to become the first team in NFL history to advance to the Super Bowl as the host team. Case Keenum’s miracle touchdown pass to Stefon Diggs as time expired in a 29-24 win over New Orleans was one of the most spectacular sequences in playoff history. Now Minnesota will need to refocus ahead of a tough test on the road this week. Keenum threw for 318 yards but had just the one touchdown and also had an interception. He will need to be more efficient this week against a tough Philadelphia defense. Meanwhile, the Eagles beat the Atlanta Falcons 15-10 last week on the strength of that defense but their offense will need to step up. Nick Foles was held to 246 yards by Atlanta and didn’t have a touchdown. He will need to put up some points in order to beat Minnesota. Meanwhile, running backs Jay Ajayi and LeGarrette Blount combined for 73 yards and a touchdown against the Falcons. It wouldn’t be a surprise if they had even more touches this week as the Eagles look to grind their way to a victory in the cold at Lincoln Financial Field.