The Kickoff: Conference Championships

Welcome back everyone to another week of the Kickoff. Hopefully this past weekend, your preferred team won and kept their chances to make an appearance in the Super Bowl alive. If they didn’t, then I feel your pain. After the past weekend, my 2-2 record was essentially annihilated by going 1-3 in those games. The Steelers, Titans, and Saints all lost their games meanwhile the Eagles gave me my only “win”. The new tally sits at 3-5… Happening this weekend are the AFC and NFC conference championships, let’s get started!

Up first we have the NFC championship game which sees the Philadelphia Eagles taking on the Minnesota Vikings. The Eagles took down the Falcons (funnily enough, the Falcons blew the lead to lose) in the Divisional round to get here. Meanwhile, the Vikings moved on by some literal last second theatrics to beat the Saints.

  • Game of Punting: A Song of Overthrown Passes and Fourth Downs
  • Someone please give Stefon Diggs a pay raise.

We see things start off with a 15-yard return by the Eagles on the opening kickoff. We see the Vikings defense hold up strong by forcing a quick three plays and the Eagles are forced to punt. Perhaps, this was partially due to the fact the Eagles’ quarterback suffered a “season ending” injury on the first play. Drink your milk kids. Vikings’ opening drive was similar, minus the injury, and they are forced to punt. Eagles take over late in the first quarter and start moving towards the endzone. As the first quarter comes to a close, we see this drive stall out around Minnesota’s 42 and Philadelphia is forced to punt, of which it is only a 15-yard punt… Vikings take over…and they punt. We see more of the same until about a minute remains in the second quarter. Then we see the newest MVP of the Vikings, Stefon Diggs catch a 34-yard TD pass to finally break the monotony of the traded drives. Minnesota leads 7-0 before the half. Each team punts once more before the half actually ends.

Halftime approaches and we continue to not let the color commentators get a drink of water. BACK TO WORK!

Second half begins with Minnesota sticking to the running game to burn some time off the clock but they get to around midfield and stall out. Thus giving us yet another punt. Eagles take over and sort of move the ball, they move it by losing yardage on the first two plays. While all of this is happening, the commentators start talking about Andrew Luck and the Indianapolis Colts. Oh hey look, a 29-yard pass by the Eagles gets them across midfield later in the third quarter. Third quarter ends and the fourth begins, Philly is still using the momentum they gained from that long pass to keep moving towards the goal line. Two plays later we have a tied game at seven a piece. Midway through the fourth, we see the reappearance of one Mr. Diggs taking a 51-yard pass to the house to put the Vikings back out on front 14-7. Eagles try their best to tie the game up late in the final minutes but are unable to via their offense. All that is left for Minnesota is proper clock management and they kind of do that but yet still leave one second on the clock for Philly to do something. To make things interesting, the Eagles are picked off to end the game. Minnesota wins, 14-7.

Next up we have the AFC Championship where the New England Patriots will invite the Jaguars of Jacksonville to Foxborough. The Jags have worked their way here from the Wildcard round by taking out the Bills, and then the Steelers in the Divisional round. Meanwhile, New England got a first round BYE and then took down the Titans in the Divisional round.

Jacksonville starts the game by receiving the opening kick, then after a 17-yard return, they lose about 10 on the first play. Then gain 42 on the following play. After that nice, long play however, they stall around the Patriots’ 27 and have to attempt a 44-yard field goal. The Jags make the field goal and are up early in the first quarter, 3-0. Tom Brady comes out onto the field and tries to do Tom Brady things, but it doesn’t work too well so they revert to last checkpoint…uh, I mean revert to the ground game and start moving the ball. They run out the remaining time in the first quarter and crack off a big 35-yard run to start the second, except it gets called back on an offensive holding penalty. Brady tries doing Brady things again and it works…except not because the passes are caught out of bounds. Since Brady can’t Brady, the Patriots are forced to punt on their opening drive. Jacksonville takes over and starts moving the ball with what is left of the second quarter. They manage to make it down to around the five-yard line where they get a quick touchdown pass into the endzone to go up 10-0. Late in the second quarter Brady is finally able to do Brady-esque things and get the Pats down to the goal line. We then see Not-Brady come back and New England is forced to kick a field goal from one yard out of the endzone. They obviously make it and now trail by a touchdown, Jags still lead 10-3 at the half.

Much like the spoon, there is no halftime either.

The most exciting thing to happen on the Patriots’ first drive after the Not-Halftime is a toss up between the holding penalty they get or the punt that puts the Jaguars starting position at the one-yard line. I’m leaning towards the latter option though. Trying to get out of this bad starting position, the Jags narrowly avoid a safety by getting a five-yard run that is followed by a facemask penalty from New England. This is how we end the third quarter, Jags still up by seven. Nothing much more happens for half of the fourth quarter; the Patriots do pin the Jaguars deep in their own territory with a pretty decent punt. Late in the fourth we see the Pats try and get something going to tie the game up but they stall at midfield and turn the ball over. After that, time runs out and Jacksonville wins 10-3.

The teams have been (virtually) set. Jacksonville pulls off what is probably considered an upset by beating the Patriots and Minnesota continues the antics by defeating Philadelphia. In turn, this sets us up for a Minnesota – Jacksonville Super Bowl. The question is, is this actually how it will turn out? We’ll find out this weekend!

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