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NFL Picks Conference Championship Playoffs 2018: Predictions by Football Writers

Predicting the winners of this week’s NFL games.

Divisional Round - Atlanta Falcons v Philadelphia Eagles Photo by Abbie Parr/Getty Images

The Bleeding Green Nation writers picks are in for the Conference Championship round of the 2018 NFL Playoffs schedule! Each week we'll predict the winners of each and every NFL game. We'll tally the results along the way and see who comes out on top at the end of the season.

The BGN Community is still first in the overall standings but Sean Cottrell has the lead in the post-season only standings. After that, there’s a four-way tie for second.

The Philadelphia Eagles are set to host the Minnesota Vikings this week. The entire BGN staff is taking them to win. No doubters this week.

Feel free to post your own predictions or discuss the writer predictions in the comments. You can also vote for who you think will win the games. I’ll tally those results in a “BGN Community” column. Vote in the polls beneath the explanations. (Click here if you can’t see the polls.)

Let's get to this week's picks!

2018 Conference Championship Games

BGN Picks BLG Benjamin Jonny Cody Alexis Tyler Sean BGN Readers
BGN Picks BLG Benjamin Jonny Cody Alexis Tyler Sean BGN Readers
Season Record 169-95 176-88 166-98 170-94 150-114 173-91 171-93 180-84
Playoffs Record 5-3 5-3 3-5 4-4 4-4 5-3 6-2 5-3
Divisional Record 3-1 3-1 1-3 1-3 2-2 4-0 3-1 2-2
Jaguars at Patriots Patriots Jaguars Patriots Patriots Patriots Patriots Jaguars Vote
Vikings at Eagles Eagles Eagles Eagles Eagles Eagles Eagles Eagles Vote


Since there are only two games this week, the BGN staff gave some explanations for their picks.


I just feel like there isn’t good reason to bet against the Eagles at this point. They’ve proved people wrong at every turn. Doug Pederson is showing the makings of a great head coach. Philadelphia is great in the trenches, where games are often won and lost. The Vikings are a really good team, but I like the Eagles with home field advantage.

As for the Jaguars-Patriots game, it wouldn’t shock me in the least if the Jags are able to pull off the “upset.” The whole “Tom Brady’s hand is hurt” thing makes me wonder if I’ll regret not picking Jacksonville. But there’s always the chance Blake Bortles implodes. And I’m not about to bet against Brady and Bill Belichick in their own house in January.


Jaguars at Patriots - Jacksonville

Listen, there are three games left in the season, and I’m down the Community by four, so I’m ready to concede defeat. As such, let’s get funky with it: I’ll take Jacksonville to upset the Patriots. Belichick’s teams always excel at taking away the one thing that you do exceptionally well and forcing you to beat him in other ways, so the formula shouldn’t be tough to guess: stop the run; make Bortles beet you in the air. But we’re talking about the second-worst run defense in the NFL against a rushing attack that doesn’t do much fancy stuff on the chalkboard--they just play big-boy ball with the line up front. Add in the fact that this defense wants nothing--I mean nothing--more than to beat Brady and then talk about it for 2 straight weeks, and I’ll *Twilight Zone theme turns on* take Jacksonville to represent the AFC

Vikings at Eagles - Eagles

I mean, how could I not? This Vikings team is incredibly difficult to beat, but I don’t think we’ve seen for quite some time a home field advantage like the one we’re about to see in Philadelphia. The colder it is, the better that becomes, too. Not unlike in the AFC, I’m going with the team with the superior trenches (DL is kinda a wash, but OL edges Philly) to control the game script and impose their will. Philadelphia’s rushing game needs to turn in the best performance of the season, but they’re coming off an excellent game against Atlanta--and Ajayi, a rumbler, should pick up right where he left off. A healthy Dannell Ellerbe is a must, but I think Philly has enough to outlast Minnesota.



So I want the Jaguars to win so badly here, but I expect the Patriots to take this. Jags D is incredible but can be weak be beaten by pass catching RBs & I expect NE to attack them with that matchup. I think it will be a close one though & if Bortles plays well, who knows!

On the Eagles game, I don’t trust either of these offenses but I’ll give the edge to the Eagles because of our running game and the fact that we are at home. My really big worry is that Adam Thielen just goes off because that guy is a star. If the Eagles can stop him & not turn the ball over stupidly, then I think the Eagles will do enough to win this game. I think 1 QB in this game will make a boneheaded play that could cost his team the game - I hope its Keenum and not Foles!


OK, so two trains of thought here: In New England, it’s fun and all to imagine another Tom Coughlin team with unpredictable quarterback play upsetting the Pats, and the Jags “D” might very well keep things edgy, but this is Tom Brady and Bill Belichick we’re talking about (again). We can’t all hop on the Jacksonville bandwagon just to get cute. In Philadelphia, meanwhile, it feels once again like everyone on the national scene is riding high off the “Minnesota Miracle,” and the Vikings really are a balanced force. If Eagles-Falcons was a tossup, this is even more of one. There’s something about this game being in Philly, though, and the Eagles have recent history in their favor as the hometown underdog.


As much as I’d love for the Jaguars to head into New England and ruin Tom Brady’s day, I just don’t see it happening. Jacksonville completely dominated a Steelers team that had apparently forgotten they’d need to best one of the top defenses in the country before facing the Patriots. How bad did the Steelers play? Well, they made Blake Bortles look good -- and that is VERY difficult to do. I would say the Divisional Round game was so uneven due to Pittsburgh’s lack of preparation, but don’t expect the Patriots to fall into the same trap. Brady is the most experienced (read: good) quarterbacks of the four still competing -- seriously, who would’ve guessed the other three QBs competing for division championships would be Case Keenum, Nick Foles and Blake Bortles? -- and that will be enough for the Patriots to make it their thirty trillionth trip to the Super Bowl. (Barf.)

At certain points of last week’s Eagles win over the Falcons, I was secretly hoping Dougy P would do a quick uniform change in the locker room and head out as the No. 1 QB. It wasn’t the first overthrown pass by Foles, or the second, but around the third time yelling “he was wide open”, I was ready for a change. The Eagles still just need Foles to be adequate. If he can limit turnovers, and actually hit his targets down field, then Philadelphia has enough talent to come away with another home win. Sunday’s game against the Vikings will be one of the toughest matchups of the season, but with Minnesota OC Pat Shurmer expected to take the head coaching job with the Giants, hopefully Stefon Diggs doesn’t have a repeat game-winning performance, and the Eagles claim a spot in the Super Bowl.


On the AFC side, I’ll take Brady and Belichick. The Jaguars defense was susceptible last week and Belichick will likely have an answer for the Jaguars offense.

On the NFC side, the Eagles have already made it further than anybody expected after Carson Wentz tore his ACL. To everyone else, the Eagles are playing with house money, but inside the building, they believe they’re the best, and that mentality contributed to their Divisional Round win. The Vikings’ defense is noticeably worse on the road, giving up 6.5 more points, twice as many rushing yards (112) and 1.5 yards per carry more as the visitor. It won’t be pretty, but I believe the Eagles pull this one out.


This Eagles team just has something special. Unlike past years, they’ve just found a way to win when it didn’t look possible on several occasions throughout the year. After hearing about the vaunted Vikings defense all week, I get the impression that the Eagles offense, particularly the offensive line is ready to make a statement.

If Tom Brady has one kryptonite, it’s interior pressure and the Jaguars have plenty of it. This team is tough as hell and I think they will make a game of it up in New England.


Vote for YOUR picks below. (Once again, click here if you can’t see the polls.)


Who will win: Jaguars or Patriots?

This poll is closed

  • 52%
    (1504 votes)
  • 47%
    (1338 votes)
2842 votes total Vote Now


Who will win: Vikings or Eagles?

This poll is closed

  • 22%
    (714 votes)
  • 77%
    (2447 votes)
3161 votes total Vote Now