The Square Pigeon’s Pipeline: NFL Conference Championships
NFL Conference Championship Weekend
The Square Pigeon Pipeline is in it's second year here at the Spooky Express. Jason delivers his thoughts and picks on both college football and the NFL each and every week.
Being in my mid-thirties, Conference Championship weekend holds a special place in my heart because the best games of the season came happened on this weekend. The Super Bowl was always a bust. After Scott Norwood missed his infamous kick in Super Bowl XXV, they all went downhill. That game marked the seventh consecutive NFC victory and nearly all of them were by large margins. Buffalo last three more consecutive followed by a boring game where the Niners destroyed San Diego. When Denver upset Green Bay, it ended the NFC’s streak, and it was a solid game. But, it wasn’t until two years later when the Titans came up a yard short against the Rams that the Super Bowl was the best game of the season.
I was sitting on the floor of my first apartment watching the game unfold. It was my freshman year of college, and I was three weeks into my second semester. I did everything I could to block out the incessant ramblings of my girlfriend who was rightfully jealous. This game was getting more of my attention than she had in a month, but still, 18-year-old me ignored her as Steve McNair drove the ball down the field. When he hit Kevin Dyson, I was sure he was in, but Mike Jones made the biggest play of his journeyman career.
For the most part, the Super Bowls have been great since then. Close games, comebacks, and upsets have dominated the last 18 years, but I still remember when the Super Bowl was just for the commercials. When one team was being led to the slaughter. That’s when Championship weekend was my favorite weekend of the year. Now, the prospect of a brilliant Super Bowl matchup outshines whatever happens this weekend. Very few people remember the great games played just before the big one, but I still get excited.
Again, terrible week, but Jacksonville saved me like they have for most of the year.
Stupid Falcons left their offense in Atlanta and lost to the Wentz-less Eagles. Tennessee returned to their typical crapfest and got blown out by the Patriots.
Minnesota taking the knee on the point after helped me save a little face.
Last Week: 1-2-1 Overall: 65-55-7
Jacksonville Jaguars at New England Patriots
Last week, Tennessee didn’t listen to me pleads to evict the evil empire from the tournament. Instead, New England put their foot straight up the Titans’ backside. It was a predictable turn of events, but I really thought it would be closer than it was.
This week looks to be different as the Patriots face their toughest opponent of the season. But wait you say, they played the Steelers. Go check out one of by power ranking articles from this season and see what I think of them. The stats don’t lie, Jacksonville is simply a better team. They went into Pittsburgh twice this season and came away with victories. This is a Super Bowl caliber defense, but they have a tall task in stopping Tom Brady.
The GOAT as fans fondly call him (which turns my stomach) looks to further cement his legacy. The amazing facet of Brady’s game is his drive to prove he’s the best. His resume outshines any quarterback of the Super Bowl era, but he is never satisfied. Even if you don’t like the guy, you have to respect that.
New England will do everything they can to force Blake Bortles to beat them. There is no way they fear his ability to throw the ball. You’ll see eight or nine guys in the box looking to take away Fournette, Ivory, and Yeldon. Bortles is not a good enough to carry this team, so Jacksonville needs to find a way to get turnovers and maybe a defensive or special team score. My head tells me to take New England, but Jacksonville has been good to me all year.
Pick: Jacksonville Jaguars +7.5
Minnesota Vikings at Philadelphia Eagles
The Falcons entered Philadelphia last week as the favorite. For the first time in NFL history, a 6 seed was favored over the 1 seed. Minus Carson Wentz, Philadelphia hasn’t looked like the same team, but football is the ultimate team sport because it takes more than one player to bring down a quality squad.
The Eagles’ defense stepped up in a big way only allowing 10 points to a strong Falcons’ offense. They didn’t stop Julio Jones, but they kept him from dominating the game. Under Jim Schwartz, the defensive unit has come together beautifully this season. Philadelphia is fourth in both points and yards allowed. They were also fourth in the league with 31 takeaways.
This opportunistic defense will cause Case Keenum to make a mistake or two. They held Matt Ryan to 210 passing yards, but Keenum is riding a once in a lifetime wave of success. He hasn’t performed this well since he played for Houston. No, not the Texans but the Cougars. The progress he has made should be copied throughout the league. This kid had the chance to sit on the bench and learn. He played a little here and there. He was given a chance to get ready for this experience, and it looks like it paid off.
While Keenum might not flash any big numbers against this defense, Nick Foles will look much worse than last week against the Falcons. Those stats I threw out earlier for the Eagles’ D, Minnesota beats them except for takeaways. The Vikings were the #1 defense in yards and points allowed. Foles did enough against a sketchy defense, but there won’t be an upset this week.
PICK: Minnesota Vikings -3