The NFL has a problem: it doesn’t know how to market any games that don’t feature superstar quarterbacks. The Eagles, Vikings and Jaguars have been solid for a large portion of the season, and while we all wrote a Wentz-less Eagles team off a month and a half ago, it’s not far-fetched that they’re a game away from a Super Bowl berth. You know and I know that the NFL brass was hoping for a Brees-Brady Super Bowl last weekend, maybe even a 51-rematch before the Falcons went down. They didn’t get that, and now they’re hoping for a Philly-New England matchup for helmet’s sake, but as the NBA proves time and time again, that’s not necessary for good ratings. The NBA markets athletes, the NFL markets teams and well…markets, knowing good and well that faces and identities change. The Steelers aren’t the hard-hitting defense they used to be, you can’t rely on an age-old addage to sell tickets.
That’s how you get stuck with a potential Jaguars/Vikings Super Bowl, one that would be a fantastic chess match defensively, with zero idea how to market.
They also don’t know how to push black superstar QBs and it’s why you’re seeing so many people urge Lamar Jackson to switch positions.
That’s neither here nor there.
#3. Jacksonville Jaguars (12-6) @ #1. New England Patriots (14-3)
Sunday, January 21 – 3:05 PM EST, CBS
Never forget that the last time the Jacksonville Jaguars were in the playoffs, David Garrard went stride for stride with Tom Brady until Dennis Northcutt dropped a crucial catch diving into the endzone to tie the game. From there the Patriots scored, made it a two possession game, and Jacksonville couldn’t overcome it. This time around the formula is the same with a different QB and better defense. Jacksonville comes in boasting the league’s top scoring defense, but they aren’t invincible. The Steelers dropped some points on them last week, and the 49ers before had once exploited them. You better believe that Bill Belicheck has been paying attention to personnel groupings and which types can leave the Jaguars defense in a bit of disarray. Expect to see a lot of no-huddle situations to keep Jacksonville from changing personnel.
If the Jaguars have a strong chance in this game, it’s going to involve hitting Brady. They HAVE to get home or hope that Bortles plays the game of his life.
Joe (25-14) | Brandon (27-20) | Ryne (35-20) | Alex (31-27)
Ryan (31-29) | Keenan (27-20)
#2. Minnesota Vikings (14-3) @ #1. Philadelphia Eagles (14-3)
Sunday, January 21, 6:40 PM EST, FOX
“Hi guys, I’m Case”
That was the introduction to Keenum’s press conference after an early season victory. Keenum has defied odds since taking over for an injured Bradford and has now put the Vikings in position to win their first ever Super Bowl. Keenum has been brilliant this season, not just taking care of the football, but often making the throws necessary to win games. As seen last week.
While Foles is a bit shaky and not as consistent, he is complemented by a superb playcaller in Doug Pederson who put him in position to win against the Falcons last week. That task will be slightly more difficult up against Minnesota’s defense and an offense that can actually move the football. The Eagles need to keep the score in the teens in order to make it back to the Super Bowl.
Ryne (24-20) | Alex (24-16)
Ryan (28-17) | Keenan (24-20) | Brandon (20-16) | Joe (21-19)
Standings So Far:
- Ryan, Ryne (6-2)
- Brandon, Alex (5-3)
- Keenan, Joe (3-5)
- Wop (2-2)