Wednesday Morning QB (Championship Weekend)

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Heading into the conference championships there were some clear expectations for the how the weekend was going to work out.

In the AFC there was a real possibility of a massive upset with the most dominant team of the last decade taking on a team making their first run in almost two decades.

The New England Patriots were hosting the Jacksonville Jaguars and after the Jags dismantled the Pittsburgh Steelers there was a sense that something special might happen.

Although that was a real possibility, Any Given Sunday and all that, the reality was that the game was likely not going to end well for Jacksonville.

It just wasn’t going to be possible for the Jaguars to outdo a team that has won more Super Bowls in the last two decades than anyone in the history of the league with all of them coming in the last two decades.

The combination of Tom Brady and Bill Belichick was going to be too much and although the Jags could put up a fight it was likely going to be a game where the Patriots would at the very least climb away for an easy win in the end.

It would be a good pre-game for the real main event of the weekend between the Minnesota Vikings and the Philadelphia Eagles.

This was the game that was the most interesting of the two championship games as nobody expected either team to be in the NFC Championship this year.

Yet the eagles rose to the top of the league and the Vikings were right behind them both dealing with major injuries to their quarterbacks.

It was not supposed to end this way but both teams found their way to the championship with surprising wins in the Divisional Round, including the Minneapolis Miracle.

Now they were facing off in a game where the unexpected was expected and the team that had the ball last might be the one taking home the win.

Football is rarely ever that predictable though as the roles were reversed for the championship games this time around.

The Patriots seem to be making a habit out of starting slowly in big games as they couldn’t seem to get anything going against the Jaguars fierce front four.

Brady had a lot of pressure throughout the start of the game and the coverage was tight downfield making it difficult to find an open receiver.

The Pats were unable to do what they usually do and the Jaguars got up early but it started to play out similar to a bigger game just about a year ago.

New England ended the first half by finally getting into the end zone and the comeback was on for the second half.

That final drive showed that the Patriots had begun figuring things out and they continued that trend in the second half by climbing back into the game and taking the lead.

They weren’t out of it entirely as the Jaguars continued to fight and nearing the end of the game had two chances to take the lead back for the win.

The inexperience of the team in those situations showed and they were unable to get that touchdown leaving the Patriots with the win and an eighth Super Bowl appearance in the Brady-Belichick era.

Although the result was expected how they got there certainly wasn’t so the excitement built for the second game where everything seemed a little more unpredictable.

That excitement turned out to be for nothing as the Vikings and Eagles played close to start the game but turnovers began to hurt the Vikings.football-sidebar

The Eagles began building a lead and by the fourth quarter, the game was out of reach for the Vikings who lost their chance of being the first team to play at home in the Super Bowl.

The Patriots were supposed to walk away with the win in their title game against an inexperienced team but they struggled.

Meanwhile, the NFC was supposed to be a battle but instead the best team in the league that had somehow remained underdogs the entire playoffs walked into the Super Bowl.

Heading to Minnesota the story will be all too familiar for both teams as the Patriots have always been the favourites and the Eagles are feeling comfortable as the underdogs.

The Patriots will look for their second straight Super Bowl title and the sixth in this iteration of the team.

There is already little doubt that this is the greatest team in NFL history, meaning the Brady-Belichick Patriots, but adding a sixth Super Bowl will put them among the best franchises.

The Eagles have fully embraced the underdog title wearing dog masks and hoping everyone including the Patriots overlooks them.

They are happy to be the team that can’t win because despite their record they have been that team throughout the playoffs and it has turned out pretty well for them.

It is a familiar story but the ending remains to be seen as both teams have a shot when it all comes down to one game to be the best team in the league.

 

Fifth Quarter

Making His Case

Blake Bortles has been a polarizing figure in Jacksonville for years as he was supposed to be the quarterback that changed everything but has rarely been able to accomplish much. This year marked his first in the playoffs and it was a saving grace for him as the team seemed to be ready to move on from him if he couldn’t do something. With a loss in the championship game, the debate rages on but watching the game it seemed clear that Bortles proved that he can be the guy on this team although his inability to get the win might hurt his case.

Gronk’s Injury

The Patriots lost one of their biggest targets at halftime when Rob Gronkowski went down with a concussion just before halftime in the AFC Championship. It didn’t change the result of the game but losing the best tight end in the game is sure to change things as they wait to see what might happen in the next two weeks. Concussions are notoriously tricky and Gronk could be out for the Super Bowl or could be good to go right back into the line-up. It is sure to change some things as the Pats will need to plan around that absence although it might not hurt their chances.

More Jobs Gone

The coaching vacancies are filling up quickly with a few coaches still waiting to be confirmed for some jobs and more jobs officially filled this week. The New York Giants announced the Pat Shurmur would be their man going forward after the Ben McAdoo era seemed to end their chances of really making an impact. The Tennessee Titans went with a player favourite in former Pro Bowler and Houston defensive coordinator Mike Vrabel. The Cardinals filled their man in Steve Wilks who served as the DC for Jacksonville. With only a few obs left not many positions are left as more coaches who are in the Super Bowl could find their jobs after February 4.

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