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FOOTBALL FREAK: Unbelievable finishes to divisional games

['John Turner']
['John Turner']

Columnist makes strong statement about Jaguars

Are you kidding me?
These were the words used by many football fans after the dramatic endings of three NFL divisional games last weekend, especially the shocker in Minnesota.
Who believed Nick Foles, Case Keenum and Blake Bortles would be three of the final four quarterbacks left in the tournament?
Many experts thought it was going to be Matt Ryan, Drew Brees, Ben Roethlisberger and Tom Brady, but again good defences always get overlooked when predicting games.
Saturday, the Falcons were trailing the Eagles 15-10, and it came down to one last play on fourth down from the Philly two-yard line.
Atlanta, which has a recent history of bad offensive play-calling in the playoffs (the three plays previous were ridiculous calls, and last year’s Super Bowl), decide to roll out Ryan to his right, which now results in the defence defending only half the field – big advantage for the D. Spread the defence across the field, and take your chances. Where was Tevin Coleman on the four plays?
The Freak is tired of watching these terrible coaching decisions!  
In Pittsburgh, the Steelers’ defence didn’t make it to the stadium as the Jacksonville Jaguars’ offence put up 45 points on the road in cold conditions, after just generating 10 points in warm Florida the week before.  
Seriously, the Steelers scored 42 points against Jacksonville, and lost the game?
All they needed is one stop in the fourth quarter. The Pittsburgh D was looking ahead to the Patriots, and it showed.
It was an embarrassing loss at home, and inexcusable for Coach Tomlin to let his team play like this.

Insane finish
Finally, The Freak was texting die-hard Minnesota Vikings’ fans Poochie and Pete after the most insane finish to a game in the history of the NFL playoffs. They, like all the other impartial fans, were in complete shock by the game’s ending.  
These are the types of finishes you see in movies – not in the NFL playoffs.
It was an unbelievable game with four lead changes in the last three minutes, then the miracle pass from Keenum to Stefon Diggs, and a brutal tackle attempt by safety Marcus Williams.  
This was a basic tackle you learn in atom football – “never drop your head, see what you are tackling” and a pro in the biggest moment of his football life can’t make a Little League play. Crazy stuff!  

Stat of the week
Diggs’s touchdown was the first time in NFL playoff history there was a walk-off game-winning touchdown to end a game.

Jaguars vs. Patriots
Is there anyone left in the tournament capable of knocking off the defending champs?  
Believe it or not, Jacksonville might have the best chance with their personnel. They can get pressure with their front four, the defence is built on speed, very good corners, a solid running game to keep Brady off the field, but can Bortles make enough plays with his arm and not make the big turnover?  
This question is what will decide this game. You know Coach Belichick will try and take away Leonard Fournette. So, just like Eli did in those two Super Bowls, Bortles will need to make big plays on third down, just like he did last week against the Steelers.  
Jacksonville needs to go after Brady, and if he burns you he burns you. You can’t give him time, bring the blitz with different looks and get middle pressure in his face. Double-team Gronk, take your chances being singled up everywhere else and hope your speed will cover up any coverage mistakes and missed tackles. Give the Patriots field goals, not touchdowns. “Sacksonville” has nothing to lose as a big underdog. The blueprint is there, and they have the personnel to do it on both sides of the ball.
Call The Freak crazy, but this has a Giants-type upset feeling to it. The Patriots and their fans are already looking to the Super Bowl, but the Jaguars will pull off the big upset – a team on a roll with nothing to lose is a scary animal to face.

Vikings vs. Eagles
Foles and Keenum were once teammates with the Rams in 2015. Foles became a Ram when he was traded from Philly for Sam Bradford in 2014, and ironically Bradford eventually gets traded to Minnesota last season while Foles made his way back to the Eagles.
Nonetheless, Foles and Keenum will now duke it out in the NFC Championship game in hostile Philly. This will be a cold, low-scoring, old-school defensive battle, which will come down to the team who wins the turnover battle and doesn’t miss any field-goal attempts.  
Usually The Freak would never take a dome team outside in January, but this Vikings’ team can travel, meaning it will stay committed to the run (second-most rush attempts in the league) and has the best complete defence in the NFL.
The raucous crowd in Philly will make it difficult for Keenum’s first-ever playoff road game.
This one's for Poochie and Pete as they never have seen the Vikings in the Super Bowl. Minnesota becomes the first team to host the big game, and play in it!
Last week: 3-for-4.
Playoffs: 6-for-8.
Season: 95-for-126.

John Turner is a Summerside school teacher and coaches youth football. His column appears every Thursday during the NFL season. Feel free to e-mail questions and comments to ssidespartansfootball@yahoo.ca.

 

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