Staff picks for this weekend's NFL conference finals

Baltimore Sun writers and editors predict the outcomes of the NFL conference championships on Sunday, when the New England Patriots will host the Jacksonville Jaguars in the AFC and the Philadelphia Eagles will host the Vikings in the NFC:

Jen Badie


Last week: 2-2

Overall: 171-93


Patriots 27, Jaguars 23

Even if Tom Brady isn’t 100 percent and is facing a team that finished No. 2 in total defense, it’s a little hard to pick against him and Bill Belichick. They haven’t lost a home playoff game in six years (that was to the Ravens, of course) and are 18-3 overall in the playoffs.

Vikings 24, Eagles 17

If Carson Wentz had not been injured, I would have picked the Eagles to win this game and the Super Bowl. But in the battle of the former Rams quarterbacks, the team with the best defense in the league and riding one of the most exciting finishes ever will probably come out on top.

Edward Lee

Last week: 2-2

Overall: 153-111

Patriots 24, Jaguars 10

Tom Brady could throw with his feet and still be effective. And as well as Blake Bortles has played, the Patriots rarely lose a playoff game at home.

Vikings 27, Eagles 20

The rags-to-riches story for Case Keenum will continue and the Vikings will be the first team to host and play at the Super Bowl. Better luck next time, Philadelphia.

Mike Preston


Last week: 2-2

Overall: 177-87

Patriots 24, Jaguars 17

I would love to see an upset here but Patriots have more playoff experience. The Jaguars play the right style to win both on offense and defense, but The Patriots Tom Brady will be one step ahead of their defense and New England will shut down Jacksonville's short passing game.

Vikings 27, Eagles 24

Both teams can get pressure on the quarterback but Case Keenum is more active than his Philly qb counter part, Nick Foles. He is worth one or two more big plays because of his scrambling ability.

Two of the league’s most Super Bowl starved cities, Minnesota having gone 0-4 in the big game and have been jinxed in the playoffs since. Philly is the only NFC East team without a Lombardi Trophy. In fact, every other team has multiple ones. Eagles are 0-2 in the Super Bowl.

Peter Schmuck

Last week: 3-1

Overall: 171-93

Patriots 20, Jaguars 13

This will be a low-scoring affair that will turn on the Patriots' ability to do what the Steelers couldn't — stop Blake Bortles. Tom Brady will find a way to score a couple of touchdowns against the stiff Jags defense and that will be enough.

Eagles 27, Vikings 20

This battle of reserve quarterbacks will end in something resembling a statistical draw, but the Eagles will be at home and they'll win the turnover battle to set up a rematch of the 2005 Super Bowl.

Childs Walker

Last week: 2-2

Overall: 175-89

Patriots 27, Jaguars 14

As game as the Jaguars looked in Pittsburgh, it would feel foolish to pick Blake Bortles on the road against the best coach and best quarterback in league history.

Vikings 20, Eagles 13

This should be a bruising, low-scoring game, and the best all-around defense in the league gets the nod over Nick Foles.

Jeff Zrebiec

Last week: 2-2

Overall: 181-83

Patriots 27, Jaguars 13

The Jaguars certainly have some elements that will challenge the Patriots, but Bill Belichick and Tom Brady will find a way, like they almost always do at this time of year.

Eagles 20, Vikings 13

The Eagles defensive front against the Vikings' offensive line will prove to be a mismatch. Philadelphia will control this game in the trenches and advance to the Super Bowl.

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