The AFC and NFC Championships showcased both the highs and the lows of the four best teams in the league.
Margie Dillman, Co-Editor in Chief
256 games. 32 Teams. 17 weeks. These numbers have been downsized considerably since September 7, 2017 when the Kansas City Chiefs beat the New England Patriots in the first game of the 2017 NFL Season. As of January 22, there is only one game left. Two teams. One Superbowl Sunday.
The AFC and NFC championship games took place January 21, with the New England Patriots coming back from a 11-point deficit to defeat the Jacksonville Jaguars 24-20 and win the AFC. The Jaguars made their way to the playoffs thanks to dominating performances all season long by draft pick Leonard Fournette from LSU, who surely lived up to the extraordinary expectations that the entirety of Jacksonville formed for him before this season even began. The Patriots making it to the championship game was not a surprise for any professional football fan, even with the multitude of injuries plaguing the New England roster. The season allowed Danny Amendola to flourish in light of absence of Julian Edelman, who has been on the injured reserve since tearing his ACL in the preseason. The Jaguars had a 13-3 lead at one point, but soon lost it to New England thanks to Amendola’s standout performance throughout the second half. New England will be returning to the Superbowl for the third year in a row, and are hoping to clinch their sixth Superbowl title, tying the Pittsburgh Steelers in amount of championship rings.
The NFC game followed soon after, hosting a matchup between the Philadelphia Eagles and the Minnesota Vikings. The Vikings season was characterized by an elevated season long performance by quarterback Teddy Bridgewater, who suffered a torn ACL and dislocated knee in August and was replaced by Case Keenum. Keenum has lived up to his predecessor exemplarily, leading his team to the NFC Championship and gaining the chance to make the Vikings the first team to have a chance of competing in a Superbowl in their home stadium. The Eagles also suffered a major loss to their team, with quarterback Carson Wentz tearing his ACL during Week 14. The Eagles were the better team both offensively and defensively, although Minnesota did have the better start. The Vikings were the first to score, soon taking a 7-0 lead over the Eagles. However, the lead soon changed after Keenum threw an interception and Patrick Robinson ran it back in order to score and clinch the pick six. The Eagles kept up their hot streak throughout the rest of the game, ending the game with a 38-7 score to send them to their first Superbowl since 2004.
14 years ago the Patriots and the Eagles faced off for the championship in Jacksonville, and the Patriots clinched the victory with a 24-21 lead. They will meet for the second time on February 4, and the game will surely be one to watch.