The climax to the 2017/18 NFL season is fast approaching and we are now down to the final 8 teams standing – all of whom have a real shot at being crowned this seasons World Champions. Lets take a look at the four games and take a shot at predicting which teams will advance to their Conference Championships….just one game away from the Superbowl
NFC : NEW ORLEANS SAINTS @ MINNESOTA VIKINGS
This is a mouth-watering fixture between two very potent offenses and two very resilient defences. The Saints held off the Carolina Panthers to gain a game against the number 2 seeds of the NFC, but will need to show all their flair to overcome the Vikings, but will much prefer the indoor arena of the U.S Bank Stadium, home to this years Superbowl, than the freezing outdoor field in Philadelphia. The Saints have a deadly running duo of Mark Ingram and Alvin Kamara but these were stifled by the Panthers, which the Vikings will take heart from. But then there is Drew Brees, an outstanding Quarterback with a deadly arm. But he faces one of the NFL’s best defences, who give up precious few passing yards and third down conversions. But despite this, we see a bit of a shootout here, with too many weapons on both sides of the ball for this to be a dour defensive struggle.
Prediction : New Orleans 28-31 Minnesota
NFC : ATLANTA FALCONS @ PHILADELPHIA EAGLES
The Falcons, last years runners up, raised a few eyebrows by handing a loss to the vaunted Los Angeles Rams in the wildcard game, and again will be underdogs to the NFC’s number 1 seed Philadelphia Eagles – especially with the game to be played in much wilder conditions than the Falcons got in Los Angeles last weekend. The Falcons will play their usual physical game in an attempt to bully the Eagles – but the Eagles are significantly weakened by the loss of star QB Carson Wentz, with Nick Foles an able understudy, but not having the legs of his teammate to escape the inevitable pressure coming. Still the Eagles D will look to get to Falcons QB Matt Ryan and limit his time to get throws off to a dynamic receiving corps – and hope they are better suited to the conditions. But we cant escape from the fact that the Eagles without Wentz do not look as good as they do with him. We see a surprise here.
Prediction : Atlanta 21-13 Philadelphia
AFC : JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS @ PITTSBURGH STEELERS
The epitome of a great defense v great offense clash. The Jaguars defence has been jaw droppingly good this year, giving more credence to the aged NFL sentiment that offences win games, defences win Championships. But they come up against arguably the best offence in the NFL in the Steelers…who have stud players all over the place and homefield advantage to boot. It will be a fascinating duel….but for the Jags to prevail, their own offence must click and put up points to clinch the game. QB Blake Bortles looked very shaky against the Buffalo Bills last weekend and a repeat performance wont cut it against a much superior outfit as the Steelers. We feel the Jaguars will again give a great showing on D….but feel the Steelers just have too much all round presence and will have enough to progress.
Prediction : Jacksonville 10 – 24 Pittsburgh
AFC : TENNESSEE TITANS @ NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS
On paper this looks a bit of a formality for the Patriots, who will not have expected to be facing the Titans in this round. But history shows there have been shocks, even in Foxborough, and Pats Headcoach Bill Belichick will leave nothing to chance against the upstart Titans, who have the physical presence to disrupt, if not upset, the usual smooth Patriots offence. Whether they have enough themselves on offence though is another question, against the energetic and ball hawking New England defence, who can cause turnovers aplenty to give superstar QB Tom Brady enough field time to drive and put points on the board. We see nothing more than a Patriots victory here.
Prediction : Tennessee 16-34 New England