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Jan 18, 2018

2017 NFL Conference Championship Preview

The NFL Conference Championships are this Sunday, and with it marks the last week of the Draftboard NFL season. The big story again this week centers around the quarterbacks. With Nick Foles knocking off Matt Ryan, Blake Bortles beating Big Ben, and Case Keenum taking down Drew Brees, the quarterback landscape for these conference championship games is unlike any we have seen in a long time. To put things in perspective, Tom Brady has five career super bowl wins, meanwhile the three other quarterbacks have five combined playoff wins. We are guaranteed to see either Case Keenum or Nick Foles heading to the super bowl after Sunday, neither of whom entered this season as starters. Surrounded by all of the inexperience, it is pretty clear why Tom Brady and the Patriots are heavy favorites to win this year’s super bowl.

Breaking down the actual games, we start with the Jaguars and the Patriots in the AFC Championship on Sunday. Jacksonville has relied heavily on their defense to get them this far, but they did give up 42 points and five receiving touchdowns to the Steelers last week. Jacksonville has a strong secondary and has covered the tight end position very well this year, so they do match up well against the Patriots strengths. If Jacksonville has a weakness on defense it is against the run. However, with Rex Burkhead potentially coming back this Sunday, rostering a Patriots back is a bit of a gamble. If the Jaguars can keep the game close, expect Fournette to continue to see a heavy workload. Fournette saw 25 rushes last week and had almost 31 daily fantasy points thanks to three trips to the end zone. If the Jaguars do not keep the game close, Bortles will be tested and he has not completed more than 15 passes in any of his last three games.

The Second game of the day, the NFC championship, has the Eagles playing host to the Vikings. Minnesota is, of course, coming off of their miraculous win, while the Eagles defense held off the Falcons on their final drive last week. The Eagles, who enter the game as underdogs in their own stadium, are going to need that defense this week. Philadelphia has had one of the worst offenses since Foles took over as the starting quarterback, and Minnesota has one of the toughest defenses against both the run and the pass. The electric receiving pair of Stefon Diggs and Adam Thielen have a good chance at exploiting a weaker Philadelphia pass defense, it’s just a matter of which one to pick. Diggs did have 137 yards and a touchdown last week, but 61 of those yards and the touchdown came on that memorable last play. Prior to that play, Diggs and Thielen had near identical stat lines. If the Vikings can take care of business in Philadelphia, they will be the first team in NFL history to play a super bowl game in their home stadium. 

Dan Quinn
CEO, Draftboard.com