Chris Szagola/Associated Press
There are four teams left playing in each of the two NFL conferences, and that means the end of the football season in sight.
The climax, of course, will take place at Super Bowl LII at U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis, where the AFC champion will meet the NFC winner on February 4.
The Minnesota Vikings are the second seed in the NFC, and they have a chance to play at home in the Super Bowl if they win their conference championship.
No team has ever won the Super Bowl playing in their home stadium, but the Vikings have as good a chance as any team to accomplish that feat.
The 1984 San Francisco 49ers won Super Bowl XIX playing at nearby Stanford Stadium, but that was not the Niners’ home stadium.
The Philadelphia Eagles are the top seed in the NFC, but they have been hurt badly by the ACL injury suffered by quarterback Carson Wentz in Week 14.
Since that time, the once high-functioning Philadelphia offense has slowed to the rate of a leaking faucet.
Nick Foles has started three games since taking over for Wentz, and while he performed well in the Eagles’ Week 15 win over the New York Giants, he could not make that same claim about the following two games against the Oakland Raiders and Dallas Cowboys.
The Eagles played like the best team in the NFL for the majority of the NFL season, but that is no longer the case. As a result, the Eagles are the sixth choice when it comes to winning the Super Bowl.
They are plus-1400 to win the title according to OddsShark, and that’s a huge fall considering the way they played during the season. (A bettor who places a $ 100 bet on the Eagles would take home $ 1,400 in profit if Philadelphia wins the Super Bowl.)
Super Bowl Odds for Divisional Playoff Participants (courtesy of OddsShark)
In addition to being a long shot to win the league championship, the Eagles are also home underdogs in the divisional playoffs to the Atlanta Falcons. Atlanta is coming off a 26-13 victory over the Los Angeles Rams in the NFC Wild Card Playoffs, and the Falcons are 2.5-point favorites over the Eagles.
Maddie Meyer/Getty Images
The defending Super Bowl champion New England Patriots are plus-200 favorites to win the Super Bowl, followed by the Vikings at plus-375, while the Steelers are next at plus-500.
Either the Patriots or the Steelers are expected to win the AFC title. It would be a surprise if the Jaguars were to upset the Steelers and go on to win it, while it would be a shock if the Tennessee Titans defeated the Patriots and then defeated Pittsburgh or Jacksonville in the AFC Championship Game.
The Jaguars are plus-1800 and the Titans are plus-5000, making them the longest shot on the board.
The Jaguars have had a wonderful season in winning the AFC South title and in the AFC Wild Card Playoffs against the Buffalo Bills, while the Titans pulled off a memorable come-from-behind 22-21 victory over the Kansas City Chiefs.
However, the Steelers are too strong for the Jaguars, and the Patriots seem likely to overwhelm the Titans. We see the Steelers and Pats meeting in a classic AFC title game, and as long as wideout Antonio Brown is healthy, Pittsburgh will find a way to beat the Patriots at Gillette Stadium.
The Falcons have more offensive weapons than the Eagles, and the defending NFC champions will get back to the conference championship game.
The long-suffering Vikings will take advantage of their home field and will beat the New Orleans Saints in the divisional playoffs and the Falcons in the NFC Championship Game to earn their chance to play the Super Bowl on their home field.
That will set up a Pittsburgh-Minnesota Super Bowl, and that’s a rematch of Super Bowl IX. That game turned out to be the first Super Bowl won by the Steelers, and it was largely accomplished by the play of Mean Joe Greene, Jack Lambert, Mel Blount and the rest of the sensational Steel Curtain defense.
This time, it’s the Vikings with the better defense, and that unit coupled with the Minnesota’s home-field advantage, will lead the way to the franchise’s first Super Bowl victory.