Jacksonville Jaguars vs New England Patriots
Waleed Ismail – I want so badly for the Jacksonville Jaguars to win this game. It is a yearning deep within my loins. The idea of a Super Bowl without Tom Brady’s ugly face in it sounds almost as amazing as the LeBron James of the NFL, Blake Bortles in it. And Blake Bortles is like LeBron. Nobody flops like Blake Bortles. Both have spent an unhealthy amount of time in Florida. And both are going to end the season without a championship. New England wins this 30-24.
Jeff Krisko – With the reported injury to Tom Brady this week, it’s going to be all hands on deck as the Patriots look to overcome his injury to defeat the Jaguars. The media has been apprehensive to demand an answer about his injury, fearing they bite the hand that feeds them. However, several dab hands indicate that the injury is moderate and Brady shouldn’t miss the game, though that seems to be idle speculation. After all, the devil makes work for idle hands. The injury happened in a closed practice session, none of them have firsthand knowledge of what happened, and the Patriots being mum on the issue has forced the media’s hand and invited speculation. Granted, you could just look to the injury report, but Belichick seems to freehand that to the point of uselessness.
As for the game Sunday, the Jaguars hope the Brady setback will give them the upper hand, but given that he will play, they will have to get their hands dirty and try to make sure they’re getting to him on his throwing side. Granted, that’s the goal of a pass rush, but you have to give them a hand if they’re able to pull it off under the guiding hand of Tom Coughlin, who successfully did it twice with the Giants.
A strong Jaguars defense performance will need go hand in hand with a prolific offensive performance to pull off the upset, and that second part will be the most difficult. Blake Bortles isn’t exactly the safest hands to put your offense in, and he hasn’t handed down or handed in performances that instill a sense of him fitting that offense like a hand in a glove. The best move would be to hand the ball off to Leonard Fournette as much as possible and hand out short passes to let his playmakers go to work. This will limit turnovers, which will be key, as handing the ball back to even a compromised Brady is a recipe to hand him the game on a platter.
The Patriots, even with a damaged Brady, still can score points hand over fist. Without the Brady injury, the Jags defense was going to have their hands full, and would require some serious hands-on work from the Pats Defeater, Tom Coughlin. Now it’s not like he can be hands-off now, as that would be a quick recipe to getting blood on his hands for a Jaguars loss.
Not to be heavy-handed about the game on Sunday, but even a compromised brady is going to have the Jags with their hands full. You must hand it to Brady & company, as they can successfully get a hand from everyone available to mold their game plan every week. Compare that to the Jags, where it appears sometimes the left hand doesn’t know what the right hand is doing on offense.
It helps that the Patriots know their offense and the opposing defensive weaknesses like the back of their hands, at which even a compromised Brady is an old hand. He will have plenty of playmakers on hand to make the offense click. This game won’t get out of hand, but I can see the Jags defense overplaying their hand, which will play right into the Patriots’ hands.
Then again, Brady could be fine and this could be an underhanded play by the Patriots to overstate the injury in an effort to have the Jags throw their hands up in confusion in their preparation, since they won’t know how Brady will play Sunday. Raise your hand if that would surprise you. Patriots 23 – Jaguars 17 as New England gets the upper hand.
Evan Hoovler – I want the Jags to win, but that would require living in a universe where everything doesn’t always turn out horribly. Pats win in overtime, 20-14
Minnesota Vikings vs Philadelphia Eagles
Waleed Ismail – Last week, I told you not to look at panic about Nick Foles when the Eagles played the Falcons. That was then and this is now. The Vikings defense managed to make future Hall of Fame quarterback Drew Brees look ordinary for much of that game. So it is highly unlikely Nick Foles will fare better against the number one scoring defense in football. That is why the Vikings will win 22-17.
Jeff Krisko – It’s going to be hard to make a Case for the Philadelphia Eagles, given an extremely best-Case scenario last week as Nick Foles went ham in the second half last week to pull out a victory. It’ll be a Case of overwhelming strength (Minny Defense) versus overwhelming weakness (Nick Foles) that will have the Vikings hosting a Super Bowl. Granted, this isn’t an open-and-shut Case for the Vikings. They have a team full of players that haven’t been there before, so it might be a Case of the jitters that gets them, though I doubt they become a bunch of basket Cases.
If it comes down to quarterbacks, Keenum over Foles is pretty clear to me, but the strong Eagles defense has built a Case that they could stop the Vikings QB if push came to shove. This means that both quarterbacks could be compromised, and in that Case, I would turn, then, to the weapons around them. While the Eagles have extremely strong weapons on offense, I can’t make a strong enough Case for how much I like the Vikings receiving weapons. Case in point: the Stefon Diggs touchdown last week.
I’m not going to make a federal Case of things, and this isn’t an open-and-shut Case. I would give this one to the Vikings, but the defenses will have properly Cased the defenses, and will make this one a low-scoring affair. I hope I’ve built a Case for the Vikings, because I think they take this one down. Minnesota 17 – Philadelphia 16. Case closed!
Evan Hoovler – Case Keenum overcomes a disastrous opening, where he assumes he can throw the ball anywhere on the field and Diggs will turn it into a touchdown. Philadelphia keeps up at first, but Foles just can’t stay competitive against that defense and the Vikes pull away with it. Minnesota 31 – Philadelphia 21