It’s almost here! Super Bowl LII is just a few weeks away, and by Sunday night, we will know what teams will get the chance to play for the Vince Lombardi Trophy. Championship weekend is headlined by a team that everyone thought would be here and three others that have overcome the odds for their opportunity to play under the brightest of lights on February 4. But what will that matchup be come when all is set and done on Sunday? Here are the breakdowns of all four teams that are now a win away from appearing in the Super Bowl.
New England Patriots (14-3)
The defending Super Bowl champs will play in their seventh straight AFC championship game. They’ve won two of the past three Super Bowls and have the greatest coach-quarterback combo in the history of football. However, even entering the playoffs as the favorite, New England has still faced some challenges in the last few weeks. The organization had to deal with a bombshell report that cited major drama between the three most powerful people in the Pats franchise. Despite the story, the team made easy work of the Titans in the divisional round. They’ll face a much tougher test on Sunday against the Jaguars, and they will have to win with Tom Brady dealing with a thumb injury. The five-time Super Bowl winner will almost assuredly be playing this weekend, but it could put more pressure on the team’s stable of running backs to make plays in the rushing and passing game. The Pats defense took a big step up in terms of pressuring Marcus Mariota and a repeat performance in that aspect will go a long way in the Pats getting to their second straight Super Bowl.
Jacksonville Jaguars (12-6)
The Jags were expected to beat the Bills in the Wild Card round, but pulled off an upset of the Steelers in the Divisional round. Blake Bortles and the offense picked up the pace last Sunday, and they’ll need to continue that type of production in order to keep up with the Patriots in the AFC Championship. The team is still led by a fast and opportunistic defense that can cause turnovers at any time. If they can get pressure on Brady, especially with an injured thumb, they may be able to provide their offense with some breathing room throughout the game. The formula remains the same if the Jags are to pull an even bigger shocker on Sunday. They must run the ball, control the clock, play stellar defense and mix in some big plays if they hope to play in their first Super Bowl about two weeks from now.
Philadelphia Eagles (14-3)
The Eagles were a rare underdog as a number one seed in the second round of the playoffs. However, Nick Foles and the offense were just productive enough for the defense to hold the Falcons out of the end zone late in the fourth quarter. Philadelphia is going to need a better effort against a better Vikings team that is possibly the most complete team in football. The Eagles ran the ball a ton last Saturday and found a nice rhythm offensively when Doug Pederson allowed Foles to have options to either pass or run later in the game. They’ll likely do this again to help their quarterback think less and find Alshon Jeffery, Zach Ertz and others for first downs. The Eagles defense led by the likes of Fletcher Cox, Brandon Graham, Derek Barnett, Vinny Curry and Timmy Jernigan need to force mistakes and give the offense some short fields so they can put enough points o the board to win the game and advance to the team’s second-ever Super Bowl.
Minnesota Vikings (14-3)
Mike Zimmer‘s squad doesn’t seem to have a weakness on their roster. They can run the ball with Latavius Murray and Jerick McKinnon. They have an explosive passing game that can work in the redzone or down the field with weapons like Stefon Diggs, Adam Thielen and Kyle Rudolph. The defense has playmakers in every unit as well, so it’s tough for the opposing offense to exploit a certain area when on the field. Nevertheless, the team needed the “Minnesota Miracle” at the end of the game against the Saints in order to advance further into the postseason. They’ll face a different type of team in the Eagles who are more based of their pass rush and controlling the clock. The Vikings will be favored on Sunday because of the way Case Keenum is playing compared to Foles. But the Eagles won’t likely roll over because of the great front seven and the mistakes that they can create on passing downs. Minnesota’s offensive line could be the key to a victory because it would allow Keenum to find his playmakers on the outside to help put up points and force the Eagles to take their chances on Foles’ arm to win the game.
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