Staff picks for the conference championship games, one of the great Sundays of the calendar year.
Time: 6:40 p.m. TV: Fox.
Vikings overall: 14-3. Vikings vs. spread: 11-5-1.
Eagles overall: 14-3. Eagles vs. spread: 11-6.
Vegas Vic's take: STAND UP for SHAGGY. Everyone in the NFC was drooling about playing the Birds after Carson Wentz went down and Nick Foles took over. And the drool was really flowing at the start of the Atlanta game when Foles threw a dying quail, only to be bailed out by a pass-interference call. Then Jay Ajayi fumbles and everyone was like, UH OH.
Well, WIPE that drool from the side of your mouth, haters. Nick is on fire and 2-0 against the spread in his short playoff career. After the ugly start, Nick wound up hitting on 23 of 30 passes for 246 yards and a 100.1 passer rating. And in his two playoff games, Foles has hit on 46 of 63 for 441 yards, 2 TDs, NO INTs, and a 102.7 passer rating. Keep drooling, haters.
A quick word about the "Minneapolis Miracle," when Stefon Diggs snagged a pass and went 61 yards to the house for a walk-off W. Check this little golden nugget. In the divisional round, five teams in the last 10 seasons had won a playoff game on a walk-off TD to advance. All five of those teams LOST their next game! By an average of 23 points! Not saying the Eagles are gonna blow away Minny, but they have covered 12 of the last 17 at home.
Ryan Paganetti, a coaching assistant/linebackers, is the super sharp mind from Dartmouth who works on the analytics team. So what? This is what: The Geek Team has been helpful in guiding the Eagles to 17 successful fourth-down attempts. The BEST in the NFL.
Double V was the only one to stand tall and call for the outright win against the Falcons, and I'm stepping out on the limb again. Hometown heroes roll up to Minnesota in two weeks after posting a 21-19 victory at the Linc, and yes, this is my BEST BET, BABY!
Time: 3:05 p.m. TV: CBS.
Jaguars overall: 12-6. Jaguars vs. spread: 10-8.
Patriots overall: 14-3. Patriots vs. spread: 12-5.
Vegas Vic's take: Had a sweet deal ready to roll out for you from a New England perspective, but now that Tom Brady's right hand is an issue, we're probably gonna back off. If anyone tells you that they have "inside information" on Brady's injury, RUN!
For sure there will be SCAMDICAPPERS who will be selling picks, claiming to know what kind of injury Brady has, how much his right hand has swelled, and how deep the cut is, assuming he did actually bleed. Please, please, PLEASE DON'T buy into the scam. Once we heard that Tommy Terrific banged his money-maker, we jumped on Jacksonville at +9 for a pretty big number. Of course, if we see Brady warming on Sunday, and he's throwing those gorgeous tight spirals, we just might wash the wager. If there was no "hand" issue, we woulda been all over the Brady Bunch.
We read this AMAZING article by our old friend Warren Sharp, that talked about how teams with a standard "11 personnel," which is 1 RB, 1 TE and 3 WRs, have only a 39 percent success rate passing against the Jaguars. Teams that use a "21 personnel," which is only 2 WRs or fewer, against Jax, have a 55 percent success rate. There's a whole lotta GEEK in the article, and I say that with the utmost respect, so if you wanna read it, hit my email and I'll send you the link: Ben@AmericasLine.com.
If there's not any type of hand issue Sunday, it might be time to look at the -7.5 and pray the game lands on eight. Checked the last 10 years of spread stuff, and it turns out that the Pats have covered only two of seven AFC Championship games. And while he's not coaching, Tom Coughlin (N.Y. Giants) was the ONLY guy to beat Belichick in two Super Bowls. So maybe his plan filters down to Doug Marrone. However, we gotta wait, watch and listen to the hand before opening the wallet.