NFL conference championship picks: Patriots-Jaguars, Eagles-Vikings predictions

FOXBORO, MA - DECEMBER 31: Tom Brady /

Predictions for both NFL conference championship games.

Here we go. A trip to the Super Bowl is on the line.

Just as everyone predicted in August, the Patriots will host the Jaguars in the AFC Championship Game, while the Eagles meet the Vikings in the NFC.

Who makes it to the big dance?

Jacksonville at New England

Tom Brady is seeking his eighth trip to the Super Bowl. The Jaguars are hoping to get their for the first time.

This is Jacksonville’s first trip to the AFC title game since 1999. The last time New England didn’t make it to the conference championship was back in 2010. The story of these two franchises over the past 15 years couldn’t be more different.

Green Bay Packers
Green Bay Packers /

Green Bay Packers

But none of that matters now.

This Jaguars team matches up well with the Patriots. Jacksonville’s defense has the ability to slow down Brady and the New England offense.

Brady will want to cool Jacksonville’s pass rush by getting the ball out quick. He’ll look to work the middle of the field, something he does so well. But the Jaguars have the talent to pressure Brady consistently and defend the middle of the field.

The unit posted 55 sacks in the regular season, second most in the NFL.

But here’s why New England will win.

Jacksonville’s defense is an outstanding unit, but not unbeatable. Ben Roethlisberger threw for 469 yards and five touchdowns last week. Game script was part of that, as the Jaguars were defending a lead for most of the game.

Jimmy Garoppolo found success against the Jags, too, throwing for 242 yards, two touchdowns and an interception in a 44-33 victory.

Then comes the flip side.

Leonard Fournette will need to play well for Jacksonville to win. If the Jaguars offensive line can dominate like it did in Pittsburgh last week, they’ll have a chance. But Bill Belichick is going to load up the box and dare Blake Bortles to throw.

If I’m a Jags fan, that’s what would scare me the most.

This one should be entertaining, but I’m not picking against the Patriots at home.

Pick: New England 24, Jacksonville 17

Minnesota at Philadelphia

This could be an interesting, low-scoring battle between two excellent defenses.

Philadelphia was No. 1 against the run during the regular season, and last week prevented Atlanta from finding too much success on the ground. While Tevin Coleman tallied 79 yards from 10 carries, including a 23-yard rush, Devonta Freeman finished with just seven yards from his 10 attempts.

Minnesota, meanwhile, did about as well as you could hope for against New Orleans. The Vikings held Alvin Kamara and Mark Ingram to a combined 68 yards from 21 carries.

And while Drew Brees did finish with 294 yards and three touchdowns, he was also picked off twice.

The Vikings don’t get the benefit of playing at home this week, but the conditions aren’t likely to be as bad as feared. The game time temperature could be in the 40s, according to Anthony R. Wood of That would be a win for the Vikings.

Playing at home, in cold (if not frozen) conditions, the Eagles will certainly be in this game. But I believe this Vikings team is more talented across the board.

Packers fans won’t like it, but the Vikings are heading to their hometown Super Bowl.

Pick: Minnesota 14, Philadelphia 10

Next: Packers: 12 players that need to go this offseason

Last week: 1-3
Postseason: 3-5
Regular season: 167-89