Brady questionable; Patriots & Vikings favored heading into Sunday

January 20, 2018 - 9:06 am
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Joe DiBiase reporting
@DiBiaseWGR

Case Keenum, Nick Foles, Blake Bortles, and.... Brian Hoyer? It's not completely out of the realm of possibility, as Tom Brady is officially questionable for Sunday's AFC Championship game against the Jacksonville Jaguars. Both the AFC and NFC Championship will be live on WGR on Sunday. The winners will meet on February 4th at U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis, Minnesota.


AFC Championship

Jacksonville Jaguars at New England Patriots (-7)

3:05pm Kickoff

TV: CBS (Jim Nantz, Tony Romo, Tracy Wolfson)

Radio: WGR

Foxboro Weather: 42 degrees, Partly cloudy, No wind


The biggest storyline heading into Jags-Pats is the health of Tom Brady. Brady injured his thumb at practice on Wednesday, forcing him to miss Thursdays session. He was on the field Friday, but reportedly didn't take any snaps under center due to discomfort. The specifics of his injury were reported Friday afternoon.

Brady is officially questionable, but is fully expected to play. However, his injury being on his throwing hand could effect his play against a stout Jaguars defense. This will be Brady and Belichick's 12th AFC Championship, and their 6th in a row.

These two teams did meet in the AFC Championship once before. Prior to the Brady-Belichick era in 1996. The Pats topped the Jags 20-6, but went on to lose in the Super Bowl to the Green Bay Packers. Drew Bledsoe was the Patriots quarterback, he'll serve as an honorary captain for the team this Sunday.

The Jaguars will need to get the same Blake Bortles they got last week in Pittsburgh. 214 pass yards, 1 touchdown, and 35 rush yards along with no turnovers and no sacks might get it done again for Jacksonville if their run game and defense doesn't break against New England.

The only injury of note for Jacksonville, is veteran safety Tashaun Gipson. He's questionable with a foot injury. Other Patriots questionable are running backs Rex Burkhead, Mike Gillislee, and defensive lineman Alan Branch.



NFC Championship

Minnesota Vikings (-3) at Philadelphia Eagles

6:40pm Kickoff

TV: FOX (Joe Buck, Troy Aikman, Erin Andrews)

Radio: WGR

Philadelphia Weather: 44 degrees, Cloudy, No wind


It's rare that a top seed is an underdog for both their home playoff games, but that's the situation for the Eagles. They're a win away from reaching the Super Bowl, despite losing MVP caliber quarterback Carson Wentz to a torn ACL in the regular season. With Nick Foles at the helm, Philly is 3-0 including their win over Atlanta in the divisional round. That does not include their 6-0 loss to Dallas in Week 17, when Foles and many starters were rested.

The Eagles were regular visitors to the conference title game in the early 2000s. They went 4 years in a row, from 2001 to 2004, but won just once. This is their first NFC Championship game since they lost to the Arizona Cardinals in 2008.

Meanwhile, the Vikings make their first trip to the NFC title game since 40-year old Brett Favre took them there in 2009. Minnesota has not advanced past this game since 1976, when Favre was 7 years old. If the Vikings win, it'll be the first time a host city's team reaches the Super Bowl.

This could be a very low scoring affair. Both the Vikings and Eagles have stout defenses, and favorable matchups against Foles and Case Keenum. The Vikings were 1st in the NFL in fewest yards per attempt by their opponent, the Eagles were 3rd. The over/under point total is just 38.5.

If Keenum is able to be productive, Minnesota is virtually unbeatable. They were 8-1 this season when he threw for over 225 yards. Keenum's 318 pass yards last week against the Saints were the 2nd most he's thrown for all season. Obviously a big chunk of that came on the miracle touchdown at the end of the game. One of Keenum's top weapons, Adam Thielen, may be hindered by a back injury. Thielen is officially questionable, but is expected to play.

Backup quarterback for Minnesota might even be interesting. Sam Bradford dressed as 2nd string last week, while Teddy Bridgewater was inactive. Whether or not that means anything for free agency, in which all three Vikings quarterbacks are free agents, will be up for debate.

 

Reminder that you can listen to both the AFC and NFC Championships live on WGR!

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