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NFL Championship Weekend: Picks against the point spread

What does Jesse’s crystal ball say?

NFL: AFC Divisional Playoff-Jacksonville at Pittsburgh Steelers Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

After only an average season making picks against the point spread the playoffs have been kind to me as I have gone 7-1. A lot of that has been to do fairly big point spreads from Vegas and most of the games being competitive.

Jacksonville Jaguars (+8.5) at New England Patriots

The hope here is that the Jaguars will be able to beat the Patriots and we can watch Tom Coughlin take another trip to the Super Bowl, the problem here is the Jaguars probably don’t have enough offense to do that and while the defense has been spectacular for much of the season but they are not flawless. They have given up 42 to the Steelers and 44 to the 49ers in the last four games. That won’t be enough for the Jaguars. The other issue is that Leonard Fournette, the Jaguars best offensive player, looked less explosive in the second half after hurting his ankle against the Steelers.

I think the Jaguars will employ a plan similar to what the Giants have done in their successful stints vs the Patriots by playing a ball control game and letting their ferocious foursome rush the passer up front. Blake Bortles also has some wheels where he might be able to run for a few first downs to keep the chains moving, but that being said they just don’t have enough offense to win.

I’ll take the points because there is a chance the Jaguars keep this game close, but I can’t see Jacksonville winning.

Pick: Jaguars cover the spread

Minnesota Vikings (-3) at Philadelphia Eagles

This is the best matchup for Giants fans for the Eagles (to ensure the Eagles losing). The Vikings will be traveling to Philadelphia, but even they play in a stadium they do play in the NFC north where they travel to play outside at Lambeau and Solider fields so I don’t think that will be as much as a factor as it could have been for the Saints.

The other thing I like about the Vikings matching up with the Eagles is that the Eagles win up front on offense with their big offensive line, but not many defensive lines and linebacker are very solid up front and should be able to handle the Eagles run game. In the pass game Xavier Rhodes is a big physical WR who should be able to contain Alshon Jefferey. The Vikings also have the rare advantage of continuity: all 11 of Minnesota’s defensive starters have been with the team at last three years. Here’s to hoping the Vikings can take down the Eagles and be the first team in the Super Bowl Era to host the Super Bowl in their home stadium.