NFL Picks Week #20 (Conference Championship games)
NFL PICKS (WEEK #20 - Conference Championship games)
BY PROFESSOR MJ
Hello guys, this is Professor MJ, I’m really excited about this weekend’s games which will determine who will make it to the Super Bowl. Last week our picks were 1-2-1, so our record in the playoffs is now 3-4-1. As I said before the postseason began, I did not necessarily expect great results since I usually don’t make picks on every single game, because I’d rather choose the ones that provide the most value. But it can still be fun to give it a try, though!
Without further ado, here is my analysis of both Conference Championship games!
PICK #1: New England Patriots -8.5 vs Jacksonville Jaguars
The Patriots have beaten the spread on 9 of their past 10 games, so it’s hard to pick against them. As a matter of fact, according to Jason Logan from Covers.com, the Pats have covered the chalk 57.5% of the time over the past 10 years, which is amazing. If the rumours are true that there is some dissension among Robert Kraft, Bill Belichick and Tom Brady, we did not see any impact on the field last week against the Titans, as the Pats easily handled them at Gillette Stadium.
One of my arguments in favor of New England is similar to last week when justifying my pick on the Pats against the Titans. Jacksonville pulled off a great upset in Pittsburgh last week, and that might have been their version of the Super Bowl. Deep down inside, they might feel like they’ve already accomplished something great.
New England also has much more playoff experience; they have been through Conference Championship games before, whereas Blake Bortles and Leonard Fournette haven’t. Can you believe it will be the seventh consecutive year that the Pats make it to the AFC Championship game?
I really love what the Jags defense has done this year and it would make things interesting if they could bottle up the high-powered Patriots offense, but it won’t be easy. They forced key turnovers in Pittsburgh last week, but keep in mind that they still ended up allowing 545 total yards.
I was super impressed by the way Jacksonville handled the situation with the lead last week. You would expect them to try to run the ball and play conservatively to run out the clock, but they knew how dangerous the Steelers could be so they kept throwing some passes and it paid off big-time. I really tip my hat off to their coaching staff.
Tom Brady injured his right hand during practice this week, but it’s considered a minor injury and it should not affect him this Sunday. Speaking of injuries, another reason why I am leaning towards New England is because star running back Leonard Fournette aggravated an ankle injury in Pittsburgh last week. He left the game, and he was much less effective when he came back. They need him in top form for the Jags to have any chance of winning this match.
Even though it may not be super relevant from a betting perspective, I just want to point out that New England has won its last seven meetings with the Jaguars. Jacksonville’s last win over the Pats occurred back in 1999.
PICK #2: Philadelphia Eagles +3.5 vs Minnesota Vikings
Most bookies are posting a point spread of 3, but Bovada still has 3.5 at -115 (or 1.87 in decimal format).
Both defenses are great. In terms of yards allowed per game, Minnesota finished first while Philadelphia finished fourth. The ranks were the same in terms of points allowed. It’s been two weeks in a row where I have recommended betting the under in a specific game, and both picks hit. This week, I’d probably go with the under 38.5 points in this one.
I have mentioned previously how I don’t trust Nick Foles too much. He did pretty well last week against tough opposition, but facing Minnesota is up a notch. I believe it will be difficult for the Eagles to move the ball, just like it will be hard for the Vikings to score points too.
If you only look at the stats, Case Keenum had some pretty good numbers against the Saints last week. But I didn’t like his overall play, as his decision making was questionable in many cases. The interception he threw was horrible; he floated a pass that was basically up for grabs for anybody. You should never do that when you are up 17 to 7. He threw at least two more passes that were very dangerous, and he completed just 3 of 11 passes when under pressure, a situation that is likely to occur quite often this Sunday against the Eagles.
It’s interesting to note that neither team has ever won a Super Bowl, and that Minnesota has lost five straight NFC Championship games.
To be honest with you, I don’t see much value in this line. At +3.5 points, I like the Eagles a bit, but the majority of online bookmakers have tagged the Vikings as 3-point favorites, in which case I would personally stay away. My prediction is a very close Vikings win, which is why I’m not overly excited about my Eagles +3.5 pick. Like I said earlier, I would feel more comfortable betting the under in this game.
All right, that’s it for today, as usual I want to say a big thanks to you, my readers, I really appreciate you. I hope you’ll get a chance to watch the games with friends or family and have a good time, that’s the most important. So this is Professor MJ from Quebec City, thanks for reading and good luck with your sports investments, ciao!