Diggs' scored an incredible touchdown

Vikings To Advance To Super Bowl LII

It’s Championship weekend in the NFL as the battle to reach the Super Bowl reaches its climax. The Philadelphia Eagles host the Minnesota Vikings in the NFC Championship game.

The Eagles held the Atlanta Falcons at the goalline on four crucial downs to advance from the Divisional Round, claiming a 15-10 at Lincoln Financial Field. Doug Pederson’s men were stout to repel Matt Ryan and Julio Jones from connecting on the Falcons’ final play.

Nick Foles did just enough on offense for Philadelphia to keep them in the contest. The rushing ability of Jay Ajayi and LeGarrette Blount was also crucial to guiding them to the 15-point mark. Atlanta failed to score in the second half, highlighting the quality of the Eagles’ defense.

The home side will need to emulate that performance to advance to the Super Bowl for the first time since the 2004 campaign. Without Carson Wentz they are vulnerable and should they get into a shootout with the Vikings, who have the talent on offense to cause them problems.

All Minnesota fans will remember where they were when Stefon Diggs sent them into the NFC Championship game. The odds were stacked against Mike Zimmer’s men with 10 seconds remaining and no timeouts on their own 39-yard-line against the New Orleans Saints. However, Case Keenum completed a strike downfield to Diggs, who avoided Marcus Williams’ horrendous attempt at a tackle before racing into the endzone for a 61-yard touchdown.

It has already been branded ‘The Minnesota Miracle’, and is surely one of the all-time great moments of NFL post-season history. The Vikings are now just one game away from the possibility of hosting the Super Bowl – a feat which has never previously been achieved.

We’ll now break down the NFC Championship game using the latest betting odds.

Philadelphia Eagles

The Eagles' defense needs to perform

The Eagles proved their doubters wrong by defeating the Falcons last week. Few believed that without the presence of Wentz Philadelphia would be able to advance. However, their defense came to play and limited Atlanta’s offense to just 10 points, holding firm in the fourth quarter.  The Eagles’ defense has been a strength of the team throughout the campaign. Their defensive line has provided pressure on opposing quarterbacks, rarely allowing them to settle into matches. Ryan was troubled by the pass-rush, with Fletcher Cox and Nigel Bradham getting to Ryan.

Defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz is one of the best in the business and he also used scheme to knock Atlanta off course. Rodney McLeod’s delayed blitz highlight his playcalling skill and the Eagles will need him and his defensive players at their best to stifle Keenum. Julio Jones was able to register a 100-yard performance, although Pederson’s men held him at bay in the crucial moments. However, they will face another stern test in the form of Adam Thielen. Ronald Darby was acquired from the Buffalo Bills before the season. The cornerback has had a solid season, but will need to limit the Vikings’ wideout to push his team over the line.

Foles’ statistics last week were slightly misleading, completing 23 of his 30 passes for 246 yards. Some of his throws were off and almost allowed the Falcons to snag a turnover. However, his receivers made plays when he needed them, while the running backs were on form in the redzone. The Eagles need their wideouts to continue to thrive, with Alshon Jeffery and Nelson Agolohor impressing. Zach Ertz will also need to rise to the occasion in his likely battle with All-Pro safety Harrison Smith.

Minnesota Vikings

Diggs' scored an incredible touchdown

Credit: Getty Images

Miracles can happen in the NFL. The Vikings’ prayer was answered when Keenum found Diggs down the sideline with 10 seconds left for their decisive score against the Saints. Down one point with no timeouts remaining and locked inside their own half of the field – few would have given Minnesota a hope. However, the quarterback was accurate, the receiver made a solid grab, while the luck came from Saints’ safety Williams as he failed to make the tackle. Had the defensive back held on to Diggs even after the catch the game would have been over. He whiffed completely on his attempt and the rest is history.

Keenum and Diggs bailed out their side’s defense – who were stout for the majority of the season, only to be dissected with ease by Drew Brees. Zimmer’s men had control of the contest after racing into a 17-point lead. Brees rallied his side in the third quarter with a number of outstanding throws, connecting twice with Michael Thomas in the endzone and adding another strike to Alvin Kamara. The pass-rush led by Everson Griffen was not as dominant in the crucial stages of the match. They will need to be at their best to take control of the Eagles’ offense on the road. Andrew Sendejo and Anthony Barr notched crucial interceptions and in a low-scoring affair – turnovers will be a crucial factor.

Keenum will not have many better moments in the NFL than his touchdown to Diggs. He did show signs of inconsistency when under pressure, including a terrible interception. Philadelphia will be bringing the heat against him. Their priority will be to place the game in his hands. The 29-year-old needs to connect with his wideouts again otherwise the Eagles’ ballhawks could be in business.

Betting Options

Although the Eagles have home-field advantage, the Vikings come into the contest off the euphoria of their win over the Saints. Minnesota’s defense will be disappointed with their level of performance in the second half to allow Brees and company back into the game. Expect them to be dominant at Lincoln Financial Field to shut down Foles and the Eagles’ offense. Keenum has the talent to put just enough points on the board to edge out Philadelphia. Therefore back the Vikings at odds of -159   with Betway to advance to the Super Bowl.

Minnesota should be game for a close win – as a result the -3.5 spread at odds of +110   with 888Sport should be taken. This contest should not be a high scoring due to the quality of defenses on display along with the lack of talent at the quarterback positon. Take under 36 points to be scored at +130   with Betway. The speed of Jerick McKinnon notched one touchdown last week – back him for an anytime score at odds of +220   with Betway.

Tips Summary

Minnesota Vikings To Beat Philadelphia Eagles
Sunday 21st January 2018 18:30 ET (23:30 GMT)
Odds: -159

Minnesota Vikings -3.5 Spread
Sunday 21st January 2018 18:30 ET (23:30 GMT)
Odds: +110

Under 36 Total Points To Be Scored
Sunday 21st January 2018 18:30 ET (23:30 GMT)
Odds: +130

Jerick McKinnon To Score Touchdown Anytime
Sunday 21st January 2018 18:30 ET (23:30 GMT)
Odds: +220

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