Recovered from the weekend’s drama yet? Me neither. With just ten seconds left on the clock and facing a third-and-10 deep in their own territory, it looked for all the world like the Minnesota Vikings were going to be eliminated from the playoffs.
But quarterback Case Keenum found wide receiver Stefon Diggs for an incredible 61-yard touchdown to spark incredible scenes on the terraces. Minnesota’s late victory wasn’t down to fate or anything like that; this side is relentless and hungry to make history.
The Vikings now have the chance to become the first team to play in a Super Bowl on home soil – U.S. Bank Stadium will host the iconic event whether Mike Zimmer’s side advance to the showpiece or not. And with an NFC Championship clash with the Philadelphia Eagles to come, fans won’t be getting ahead of themselves just yet.
The history-chasing Vikings will take some stopping. Case Keenum has been simply sublime throughout the campaign and Zimmer chose to stick by his quarterback despite some calls to bring Teddy Bridgewater back earlier in the season.
Dalvin Cook’s injury was unfortunate but this Minnesota side are blessed with talent in the backfield and it would take a brave man to back against the Vikings in their pursuit of Super Bowl glory.
On the defensive side of the field, Minnesota are stacked with playmakers and that could be the difference in this weekend’s NFC Championship game.
The Vikings finished the regular season with the best scoring defence and restricting this potent Philadelphia offense will be the primary objective on Sunday. Winning on the road won’t be straightforward but 8/15 is an excellent price for a Vikings victory.
Imagine writing the Eagles off against the Atlanta Falcons on home soil. Plenty of people did it but Philadelphia silenced the doubters with a narrow victory – much to the delight of their avid fan base.
Carson Wentz may be out injured but Nick Foles is a competent replacement and he knows this offensive system. Minnesota certainly won’t have everything their own way this weekend.
Philadelphia have gone quietly about their business in recent weeks, holding their rivals to 10 points or fewer in five of their last nine games. Defensively, the Eagles are stout and a low scoring affair looks likely at Lincoln Financial Field.
If Doug Pederson's side can avoid turning the ball over on offense, they could surprise us all. 7/1 for a dramatic Super Bowl win should not be sniffed at…
Once regarded as the whipping boys of the National Football League, Jacksonville have hit new heights this year. Led by much improved quarterback Blake Bortles, this Jaguars side are now entering unchartered territory but that could be to their advantage.
Beating the New England Patriots on the road is a tough ask but Jacksonville have the tools required to defeat Tom Brady and co.
Without a doubt, the Jaguars are blessed with one of the strongest defensive units in the National Football League. Jacksonville’s ball-hawking secondary are playing well right now and they are able to bring pressure up front on a regular basis.
8/1 to win the Super Bowl is a decent price for any dreamers out there. After all, they do say defence wins championships…
New England Patriots
The Patriots don’t lose at Foxborough in January. New England have a superb home record in the Brady/Bill Belichick era and their postseason record is even better – this is going to be very difficult for the Jaguars.
Currently valued at 6/25 to advance past Jacksonville, Patriots fans will already have one eye on flights to Minneapolis for next month’s Super Bowl; a sixth championship ring could be on the cards.
For all of New England’s previous success, this could be their greatest win yet. After losing a number of key stars to injury earlier in the campaign, the Patriots’ infamous “next man up” philosophy has been put to the test this year – but New England have continued to shine.
Now over 40 years old, Tom Brady is still doing incredible things at the quarterback position and that is testament to both his own hunger to succeed and the organisation for sticking by him.
*Odds subject to change - correct at time of writing*