It’s just like the good old days. The NFC used to be the marquee conference in football, containing most of the teams on the NFL side of the NFL-AFL merger in 1966. Eventually, the AFC took over as the dominant conference, but today, there’s no question that the pendulum has swung back to the NFC. And it’s fitting that the top two seeds in the NFC will meet in Sunday’s Conference Championships. The No. 1 Philadelphia Eagles will host the No. 2 Minnesota Vikings, kicking off at 6:40 PM ET on FOX; at press time, the Vikings are 3.5-point favorites on the NFL betting lines with a total of 39. These clubs have met three times before in the playoffs, most recently in 2008-09, with the Eagles winning all three.

If it weren’t for injuries, this would be an incredibly close matchup on paper. The two teams carry the same record (14-3 SU, 11-6 ATS) heading into Sunday’s showdown, but Philadelphia is the underdog after losing starting quarterback Carson Wentz to a season-ending knee injury in Week 14. Nick Foles is filling in for Wentz; as a result, the Eagles are tied for last on the Super Bowl 52 odds list at +675, while the Vikings are second at +235. However, Minnesota also has a backup quarterback in Case Keenum, and while Keenum has performed surprisingly well for the Vikings, this will be just his second career playoff start.

 

Jaguars vs. Patriots Odds on the Move

The AFC might not be as strong overall as it once was, but it’s still the home of football’s alpha team: the New England Patriots (14-3 SU, 12-5 ATS). The defending Super Bowl champions are once again the No. 1 seed after enjoying an easy path through the regular season, and they’re 8-point home favorites for Sunday’s AFC title game against the No. 3 Jacksonville Jaguars (11-6 SU, 10-7 ATS), with a total of 46.5 points. The Patriots are 3-1 SU and 2-2 ATS versus Jacksonville in the postseason, including 2-0 SU and 1-1 ATS under head coach Bill Belichick. However, the NFL playoff odds are moving in Jacksonville’s direction, after the Jags opened at +9. 

Rightly or wrongly, most people who bet on NFL games avoid teams like Jacksonville. The Jaguars are an old-school team built on defense and running; they need quarterback Blake Bortles to avoid making mistakes more than anything. But the Jags did upset the mighty Pittsburgh Steelers (–7.5 at home) 45-42 in the Divisional Round, and Patriots supporters are a bit nervous after quarterback Tom Brady injured his throwing hand during Wednesday’s practice. While this is reportedly a minor injury, Brady stayed mostly on the sidelines during Thursday’s practice, and he’s officially listed as questionable for Sunday’s contest (3:05 PM ET, CBS).

The Patriots have been known to play it coy when it comes to their injury reports – especially when it comes to Brady. They’re still –110 favorites to defend their Super Bowl at press time, and the Jaguars are +650 third favorites. But anything can happen in the NFL, so keep an eye on the football lines at Bovada, and don’t forget about the dozens of props and specials available for Sunday’s games.
 

*Odds as of January 19, 2018