NFL CHAMPIONSHIP GAMES RECAP
Kelso Goes 3-1 In Sunday's Conference Championships
Now 9-3 in the Playoffs and (+110 Units)
30 Units: Jaguars (+7.5) Patriots 20-24 W
10 Units: Jaguars / Patriots UNDER 46 W
30 Units: Eagles (+3) Vikings 38-7 W
10 Units: Eagles / Vikings UNDER 39 L
Let's hit the re-wind button on what happened in both the AFC and NFC Championship Games and take note that heading into Super Bowl LII that NFL Playoff Betting Favorites are 1-9 ATS (against the spread) with New England's 35-14 AFC Divisional Playoff win against 14-point pup Tennessee the lone cover for a post-season chalk side:
AFC CHAMPIONSHIP GAME -
NEW ENGLAND 24, JACKSONVILLE 20 - No question the post-game headlines screamed of double-digit comebacks (the Jaguars led 20-10 with less than nine minutes remaining in this title tilt) and the road team getting jobbed by the "zebras" (see one New England penalty for 10 yards while J'ville committed 98 yards worth of penalties) but when you got down to the nitty-gritty of this game you saw the aforementioned Mr. Brady (26-of-38 for 290 yards with two TDs and 0 INTs) play a magical final quarter when his quarterback rating was 136.3 and you watched the Jags play tight, not cover a short punt very well and then lag badly in pass coverage.
Brady's pair of fourth-quarter scoring strikes to WR Danny Amendola combined both grit-and-guile by the heady pass-catcher but where was Jacksonville's pass rush and downfield blanket coverage beginning with that uber-important third-and-18 play that Brady hooked up with Amendola (7 catches for 84 yards) that jump-started the next-to-last touchdown drive for the Patriots?
In our game preview, we rattled off a laundry list of what the Jaguars needed to do if they were gonna "steal" this one in Foxboro and - truth be told - Doug Marrone's squad played brilliantly with QB Blake Bortles throwing for 293 yards with one TD and 0 INT plus, when Pats' TE Rob Gronkowski went down in the second quarter with a game-ending head injury, you got the feeling that maybe the brilliant Bill Belichick and Company had finally met their match.
Hardly. The dynasty ain't over - not by a long shot.
NFC CHAMPIONSHIP GAME
PHILADELPHIA 38, MINNESOTA 7 - Go ahead and raise your hand if you told your buddies beforehand that the Eagles were gonna be singing/dancing on the sidelines the whole fourth quarter of their championship game win against the 3-point favored Vikings ... yeah, right!
Hey, the folks that scripted "Rocky" more than forty years ago in this great city had nothing on this Eagles team that - among other things - scored four offensive touchdowns against arguably the league's best back-to-front defense and wound up watching journeyman QB Nick Foles (26-of-33 for 352 yards with 3 TDs and 0 INTs) resemble a video gamer with his precise slant passes and some deep balls too as Minny fell asleep at the wheel more than once when facing Philly's newfangled vertical passing game.
Toss in a weaving/rating 50-yard pick six by DB Patrick Robinson that merely turned the game around midway through the first quarter and some daring-do at both the end of the first half (no kneel downs here for an aggressive Eagles' offense) and early in the second half (flea-flicker magic with Foles air-mailing a 41-yard scoring strike to little-used WR Torrey Smith) and mix in with a fierce Eagles' defense that pass-rushed/bull-rushed QB Case Keenum all game long following Minny's game-opening TD drive and - voila - the Eagles were partying hard and suddenly Foles and head coach Doug Pederson were being hailed as the city's latest heroes.
The $64,000 question now is will February 4th go down as the great night in Eagles history ... or will Philly be another footnote along the way to New England's sixth Vince Lombardi Trophy?