2018 NFL Playoff Bracket Projection: Eagles beat Jaguars to win first Super Bowl
A couple of dogs emerge victorious in the Conference Championship round
Remember: You can stream the AFC Championship Game between the Patriots and Jaguars live right here on CBSSports.com.
Every single one of the four remaining teams in the NFL playoffs have a Super Bowl. The Patriots and Vikings are , but this is a wide-open race, particularly after the most important player left playing, that .. Ignore in the
You can quickly, but you can .
It's the argument I've been making since the Divisional Round ended, and it's an argument I'm going to make right now: the Jags are going to advance to the Super Bowl and win the first-ever AFC title for the franchise.
Please bear in mind these projections are like mock drafts in that they are inherently a guess and I have changed them up week-to-week. The Vikings winning it all in the first rendition was fun,. The . Both have missed primarily because underdogs ruled the day in this playoff season.
Let's dive in on a few more dogs.
Jaguars (+7) at Patriots, Sun., Jan. 21, 3:05 p.m. ET
Reminder: Stream the AFC Championship Game on CBSSports.com right here. You don't need cable, just the Internet and some sort of device to fire it up. Bookmark the page and come back to it Sunday because you're not going to want to miss this game. Why? Because it has the distinct possibility of being an upset.
The Jaguars have the formula for beating the Patriots: they can rush four guys and get pressure on Brady, while not compromising their ability to hold up on the back end. Between a talented group of safeties, Myles Jack at linebacker and Jalen Ramsey at cornerback, they have the personnel to at least be an impediment to Rob Gronkowski. With Brady's hand potentially being a problem, and gloves coming into play during a potentially very cold game, the Jaguars follow a Tom Coughlin-bred formula and generate pressure on Brady, making him uncomfortable in the pocket.
Offensively, the Jags manage to run the ball with Leonard Fournette and establish Blake Bortles early, giving the young quarterback the confidence to complete several critical third downs in the homestretch. The Jaguars get the ball trailing by two points (21-20) with just over two minutes to go. Bortles manages to move the ball enough that the Jaguars get within field goal range and Josh Lambo hits a game-ending strike that sends the Jaguars to the franchise's first Super Bowl. Prediction: Jaguars 23, Patriots 21
Eagles (+3.5) vs. Vikings, Sun. Jan. 21, 6:40 p.m. ET
Another underdog with a tough path, although the Eagles certainly benefit from playing at home here. Philadelphia is not an easy place to play, and the Eagles have been home 'dogs just twice this season: once when the lost 6-0 to the Cowboys in a meaningless Week 17 game, and the second time when they beat the Falcons in the Divisional Round last week.
The Vikings are an outstanding team. They probably have the best defense in the NFL, and they are the most complete unit among both of these teams playing (and probably the most complete unit of any team left, really). Nick Foles is going to struggle to move the ball against Minnesota, and it doesn't feel like the Eagles can come back from 17-0 like the Saints did last weekend against the Vikes.
But, and this is sort of what people seem to be missing for the most part with this game, the Eagles defense is very good too. Case Keenum isn't going to have that "come back to Earth" game everyone has waited on all season. Keep waiting. But he can be limited in terms of moving the ball down the field. The Saints showed as much late when they got pressure on him. The Eagles can generate pressure from their front four without having to blitz, and when they do send pressure defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz has shown he's as adept at timing things perfectly in that regard. The Eagles aren't stout on the back end, necessarily, but they have some players who have stepped up down the stretch in Jalen Mills and Ronald Darby.
In this projection, the Vikings once again face a situation where they need help from Keenum, marching down the field while trailing 9-7 in a slugfest of a game. Unfortunately for Minnesota's home Super Bowl hopes, the Eagles stifle Keenum with a fearsome pass rush to stun the world and advance to the Super Bowl without Carson Wentz. Prediction: Eagles 9, Vikings 7
Super Bowl LII: Jaguars (-2.5) vs. Eagles
As we already detailed, the Jaguars. And what a Super Bowl this would be: it's the nightmare scenario from a ratings perspective, with no star power of Brady or the home team storyline with Minnesota.
But here's the thing: this would be fun. Jacksonville is a team full of young guys who would be running their mouths all week long. Jalen Ramsey would morph into the latest cornerback to talk the talk and then walk the walk. A slew of young defensive stars on the field would become stars on the television. The Eagles have been a delight to watch as they've relished the underdog role, and you better believe they'd play it up leading up to the Super Bowl, especially with everyone focused on the Jags defense. Just like with Minnesota, Philly would have a good matchup in terms of people assuming they can't move the ball offensively but no one talking about their ability to put pressure on a young, inexperienced quarterback.
The Eagles do just that, pressuring Bortles into making mistakes, forcing a pick-six from the Jaguars quarterback and doing just enough on the ground with Jay Ajayi and LeGarrette Blount to put the Jags on their heels and force them to pass the ball. Chris Long wins his second Super Bowl in a row (with a different team!) and . A nation is truly terrified.
It's not a shootout and doesn't feature a crazy comeback, but it's a throwback defensive game and a chess match the Eagles ultimately win. They have won an NFL Championship before -- three in fact, the latest in 1960 with Norm Van Brocklin -- but capture their first Super Bowl in franchise history. Prediction: Eagles 17, Jaguars 10
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