David Wingate | Brown University
Case Keenum, Nick Foles, Blake Bortles, Tom Brady.
To say that one of these things is not like the others would be about as creative as playing Wonderwall in a freshman lounge.
After Sunday's miraculous Viking triumph over the Saints, which saw win probabilities and heart rates across the country oscillate faster than a crackhead on a swingset, the NFL’s final four was set: the Jacksonville Jaguars and the New England Patriots on the AFC side, and the Vikings facing off against the Philadelphia Eagles on the NFC side.
It’s a foursome with all sorts of intrigue: three teams without Super Bowl victories, one with five in less than two decades. Three teams that didn’t even make the playoffs last year, and one that’s won twelve or more games for eight years in a row. But no storyline comes close to comparing quarterbacks on each squad. Coming into these playoffs, Keenum, Foles and Bortles had a grand total of 0 playoff wins between them, whereas Brady had...25. It’s a story of the old versus the new, and maybe even good versus evil depending on how many virgins you think Tom Brady has to sacrifice to be this good into his 40s. But without further ado, here’s a dumb college kid’s take on how the Tom Brady show- I mean the NFL playoffs- ought to play out.
AFC Championship: For the past two weeks, I’ve been baffled by the Jacksonville Jaguars. They put up a whopping 10 points on the Bills to advance to the divisional round, and then exploded for 45 points against the Steelers to make it to the AFC title game. However, the one consistent theme of those games has been the inconsistency of Quarterback Blake Bortles. Bortles rushed for more yards than he threw against Buffalo, and while he had moments of greatness against Pittsburgh, he was more of a sideshow to Leonard Fournette romping wild. What should be more concerning to Jaguars fans though is the fact that their much vaunted defense gave up 42 points to the Steelers on Sunday. That won’t cut it against the Pats, a team full of playoff veterans that just thrashed the Titans. As much as I hate to say it, the Jaguars are going to crumble in Foxborough- the Patriots are deeper, more experienced, and have a hooded warlock on their side. Patriots 31 Jaguars 13
NFC Championship: Happily for the casual fan, next week’s tilt in Philly should provide a much more interesting match-up. The media may hype up the quarterback battle, Keenum and Foles, as the battle of unproven journeymen. But the real storyline here has to be the defenses. The Eagles and Vikings have been stone walls against the best offenses in the league, and this game will be no exception. I expect neither quarterback to have a strong showing, and this one will probably come down to who turns the ball over least. Both teams figure to rely heavily on the rush, especially in what is expected to be January weather. Case Keenum’s tendency to throw ducks into coverage, coupled with Philly’s stronger rushing game and home turf advantage, should be just enough to send the Eagles to the ‘chip in a slugfest. Eagles 14 Vikings 10
Super Bowl: Oh you thought there was a Super Bowl preview? This week? You’ve clearly underestimated the amount of material I have to work with this January. Stay tuned for an in-depth, pun-free* Super Bowl analysis once the match-up is set.
*no promises on the pun-free bit