The four contenders who remain in the race for Super Bowl 52 all have their own unique stories to tell this season, Firstly, we have the New England Patriots, who are hoping for back-to-back Super Bowl victories – and to give future Hall of Fame quarterback, Tom Brady his sixth win in the biggest game of all.
New England take on the Jacksonville Jaguars in Sundays’ AFC Championship game. The Jaguars, performed beyond most people’s – including mine – expectations by putting on an offensive clinic in casting aside the Pittsburgh Steelers last weekend. The Jags have suffered several seasons in the doldrums, but are now just two wins away from American Football immortality.
Another renaissance team are the Minnesota Vikings, who are looking for their first Super Bowl appearance since 1976. The Vikes have reached the NFC Championship game five times afterwards, but have fallen at that stage every time. Minnesota arguably provided the most miraculous victory in Playoff history last weekend as Stefon Diggs scored the final touchdown as time was about to expire. The manner of the victory could suggest that the Vikings’ name may be on the trophy considering Super Bowl 52 will take place inside Minnesota’s home stadium.
Standing in the way of the Vikings’ Super Bowl hopes are the Philadelphia Eagles. Philly ended the regular season as the NFC’s number one seed, but have struggled offensively in recent weeks due to starting quarterback, Carson Wentz going down with injury. The Eagles are getting by on stellar defensive work, and home advantage could prevail once more.
In this preview, we will look at both games in more detail, and offer some bets that are worthy of consideration for these two crackerjack matchups.
Jacksonville @ New England
The main story leading up to this game has been the injury situation surrounding New England’s quarterback, Tom Brady. The 40-year-old hurt his throwing hand during Wednesday’s practise session, but x-rays have revealed no significant damage and he is expected to take to the field, with no issues on Sunday.
The Match Odds for this game shows that the Patriots are very strong favourites to return to the Super Bowl on February 4th. MarathonBet offer the currently best available odds of 8/25 for the Pats. It is the seventh consecutive AFC Championship game for Brady – which is a sign of the dominance of the Patriots in recent years. Jacksonville can be backed at the top industry price of 16/5 with 888sport and Unibet to provide another upset this weekend.
New England has to overcome an eight-point handicap with the bookmakers to cover the spread for this game. Conversely, Jacksonville has the eight-point advantage. MarathonBet is the place to go for any wager in this market as the layer has the tightest margins amongst the leading bookmakers. New England –8 is 51/50, while Jacksonville +8 can be backed at 23/25.
The bet that stands out in my view is Jacksonville +8 in the handicap betting. After struggling to beat Buffalo two weeks ago, the Jaguars stepped up hugely on those efforts by scoring 45 points in Pittsburgh – which is no mean feat. Any resemblance of that form would surely make the Jags difficult to beat, irrespective of the 8-point head start.
I cannot go away from the Patriots to ultimately prevail from this game though – especially on home soil. The 7/2 on offer with Paddy Power for New England to win by 1-6 points in the Winning Margin betting is worth a second look.
Minnesota @ Philadelphia
While the points should be flowing at a regular rate in the previous contest, this matchup between arguably the two finest defences in the NFL could turn into a low-scoring battle.
In spite of having home advantage, the Philadelphia Eagles are once again the bookmakers’ underdogs for this game. The Eagles defied my view last week against the Atlanta Falcons with some solid defense to hold off the Falcons’ late surge. Philly can be backed with Unibet and 888sport at 10/7, which is currently the best available price. Minnesota fans should log into their MarathonBet accounts for their top price of 33/50.
Just three points separate these two teams in the Point Spread market. The Vikings can be backed again with MarathonBet at 107/100 to win by more than three points, while the generally available 10/11 for Philadelphia to maintain a three-point advantage is the other side of the handicap.
I took my stance last week to go against the Eagles for Atlanta due to the Eagles having to field their second-string quarterback. I got it wrong, but the Falcons made crucial errors on their final drive that ultimately cost them victory. I don’t expect the Vikings to do the same.
I’m not prepared to get involved in the short price for the Vikings to prevail in the Match Betting market, so I’m keen to play instead on the Vikings to win by 1-10 points in the Winning Margin category at 15/8 with Paddy Power.
Another bet that catches my eye for this game is the 7/4 on offer with Betway for a Defensive Touchdown to be scored at any time in this match. Both sides possess elite defensive players, and it wouldn’t be the biggest surprise to see those skills turn into points.
- Minnesota to win by 1-10 points at 15/8 in Winning Margin market with Paddy Power.
- Jacksonville +8 at 23/25 with MarathonBet in Points Spread market.
- Any time Defensive Touchdown to be scored in Eagles / Vikings game at 7/4 with Betway
- New England 1-6 points at 7/2 in Winning Margin market with Paddy Power.