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NFL playoff picks 2018: Experts think Vikings make the Super Bowl but are split on Jaguars vs. Patriots

It seems like a long shot for the Jags to beat the Patriots, but so was Jacksonville’s win over the Steelers.

NFL: AFC Divisional Playoff-Tennessee Titans at New England Patriots David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

We’re down to the NFL’s version of the Final Four. That means it’s time for our experts to pick the winners of this week’s conference championships.

Nobody saw that Jaguars win over the Steelers coming last week, except for our Adam Stites. In fact, Stites was the only one here at SB Nation who picked all four of the games correctly. As far as we know, though, he didn’t predict the final score of Jags-Steelers like Calais Campbell did.

Stites and Joel Thorman are the only two who had the underdog Eagles beating the Falcons on Saturday. Everybody else was ... barking up the wrong tree (sorry!) And while Stites, Jeanna Thomas, and Ryan Van Bibber may not have guessed that the Vikings would beat the Saints on a miraculous last-second touchdown, they still got the outcome right.

For this week’s matchups, the NFC game is harder to pin down. On one hand, the Vikings are a complete team. Their defense is dominant, and they’re going up against a Nick Foles-led offense. But the Vikings aren’t writing the Eagles off as an easy win, and nobody else should, either.

Philadelphia’s defense has been stingy all season, and it’s even better at home. Just ask the Falcons. The Eagles held them to just 10 points after the Falcons averaged more than twice that number per game this season.

It would be easy to just assume that the Patriots will take it to the Jaguars at Gillette Stadium. Then again, that’s what almost everyone did last week, and then the Jaguars managed to hang 45 points on the Steelers. Still, it’s New England at home against Blake Bortles.

Half of our experts think the Jaguars have a legitimate shot to keep the Patriots from heading back to the Super Bowl this year — or maybe it’s just wishful thinking. Four (including the OddsShark computer) are rolling with the team that seems to win it all every dang year, and four picking the trash-talking, fun-as-hell, hatin’-ass Jags.

There’s no consensus on the other game, either. Our experts favor the Vikings, but only slightly. Five of our staffers are taking Case Keenum and Co. with just three believing in Foles and his squad this week.

These are the last two games (not counting the Pro Bowl, because why in the world would you count the Pro Bowl?) before Super Bowl LII. Here’s the breakdown of which two teams our experts expect to play in the big game this year.

NFL Picks, Conference Championships

Games Ryan Van Bibber Stephen White Geoff Schwartz Harry Lyles Jr. Jeanna Thomas Adam Stites Joel Thorman OddsShark Computer
Games Ryan Van Bibber Stephen White Geoff Schwartz Harry Lyles Jr. Jeanna Thomas Adam Stites Joel Thorman OddsShark Computer

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