Super Bowl 2018: Predictions, Updated Bracket Odds and Schedule Guide

David McCracken@crackemcFeatured ColumnistJanuary 17, 2018

PITTSBURGH, PA - JANUARY 14:  Leonard Fournette #27 of the Jacksonville Jaguars carries the ball during the second quarter against the Pittsburgh Steelers in the AFC Divisional Playoff game at Heinz Field on January 14, 2018 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Jaguars defeat Pittsburgh 45-42.  (Photo by Brett Carlsen/Getty Images)
Brett Carlsen/Getty Images

After a grueling regular season, the NFL playoffs have not disappointed, and this time next week we will know who will play in this year's Super Bowl. 

The Jacksonville Jaguars have turned heads throughout the season and made a statement with their 45-42 victory over the Pittsburgh Steelers during the Divisional round last week but face a stiff test against the defending Super Bowl champions, the New England Patriots, in Foxborough. 

In the NFC, both the Minnesota Vikings and Philadelphia Eagles are looking to hoist the Lombardi Trophy with their backup quarterbacks in Case Keenum and Nick Foles in what should be the more tightly contested championship game this weekend. 

Before we take a look at the latest buzz surrounding each game, here's a breakdown of the championship schedule including television and live-stream information. 

      

Conference Championships

Sunday, January 21

AFC Championship Game

Jacksonville Jaguars (+9.5) at New England Patriots (-9.5): 3:05 p.m. ET, CBS, CBS All Access 

NFC Championship Game

Minnesota Vikings (-3) at Philadelphia Eagles (+3): 6:40 p.m. ET, Fox, Fox Sports Go

                                         

Super Bowl LII

Sunday, February 4

AFC champion vs. NFC champion at U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis, 6:30 p.m. ET (NBC, NBC Sports Live)

      

Odds courtesy of OddsShark

      

Latest Buzz

FOXBOROUGH, MA - JANUARY 13:  Defensive Coodinator Matt Patricia of the New England Patriots reacts in the second quarter of the AFC Divisional Playoff game against the Tennessee Titans  at Gillette Stadium on January 13, 2018 in Foxborough, Massachusetts
Maddie Meyer/Getty Images

The Patriots have never been a team to give in to outside distractions or pressure. But this week is a little different than normal as offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels and longtime defensive coordinator Matt Patricia could be coaching their last games under Bill Belichick if New England should lose.

McDaniels will reportedly be named the next head coach of the Indianapolis Colts or Tennessee Titans while Patricia could be in line to be the next head coach of the Detroit Lions, per ESPN's Adam Schefter.

While the possible departures of both coordinators would hang over any team at such a crucial time in the season, the Patriots—as said before—have enough to worry about with an explosive Jaguars team coming into town that shocked the football word against Steelers. 

"Very impressive," Belichick said of the Jaguars win in a media conference call, per SportingNews.com. "They did a great job. They do a lot of things well, play good defense, can rush the passer, can stop the run, turn the ball over, can run the ball, have a lot of explosive players in the passing game, they're good in the kicking game, they're very aggressive in the kicking game. They're well coached."

The Jaguars will look to lean on running back Leonard Fournette like they did last week in Pittsburgh where he totaled 109 yards and three touchdowns, but the Patriots will load the box and force Blake Bortles to make plays downfield.

The Jaguars are a "well coached" team as Belichick said, but no other coach in the NFL knows how to gameplan better than Belichick and his staff. This won't be the last game for McDaniels and Patricia as they will move past the Jaguars and advance to the Super Bowl.

MINNEAPOLIS, MN - JANUARY 14:  Wide receiver Stefon Diggs #14 of the Minnesota Vikings celebrates as he runs into the endzone for the game-winning touchdown as the Vikings defeat the New Orleans Saints 29-24 to win the NFC divisional round playoff game at
Jamie Squire/Getty Images

Looking to meet the Patriots in the Super Bowl will be the Minnesota Vikings who clinched a berth in the NFC Championship game by the skin of their teeth, courtesy of a game-winning Keenum to Stefon Diggs throw down the sideline for a touchdown in the final seconds of the game.

The New Orleans Saints were stunned by Keenum and Diggs' last-second heroics, as were the rest of the football world by the play. But the Vikings have to move on from that Divisional round and focus on the task at hand against the Eagles this weekend.

"We just still can't believe it in the locker room, honestly," Adam Thielen said, per ESPN.com. "I woke up [Monday] morning and made sure that it wasn't a dream and made sure it was a real deal."

That game was all too real for the Saints, as it was for the Eagles who watched the game thinking they were going to play the Saints at home on championship weekend. Instead, they face a stiff test against a Vikings team that stifles the Eagles offense before it even gets off the ground.

The Eagles will look to their run game behind Jay Ajayi and LeGarrette Blount to control the line of scrimmage against a disciplined and quick Vikings front seven. But once the Vikings prove that they're up to the task of handling the run, it will be on Foles to make plays downfield.

Foles has proved on a number of occasions that he can step in and win a game under center, just like he did last week against the Atlanta Falcons. But this Vikings defense would have been a difficult task for the Eagles even if Carson Wentz was healthy enough to play.

The Vikings will dominate this game on defensive and look to use an advantage in field position to get easy points on offense. The Vikings won't light up the scoreboard as Philadelphia's defense can more than hold its own, but Minnesota will slowly but surely rack up points on the scoreboard and put this game away in the second half to set up a Vikings vs. Patriots showdown.

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