NFL NFC Championship Game - Philadelphia Eagles vs. Minnesota Vikings (Monday 10:40am AEDT)
One week into this season, the Minnesota Vikings lost quarterback Sam Bradford to a knee injury, resulting in Case Keenum taking the reins after unsuccessful stints with the Houston Texans and Rams (St Louis and Los Angeles).
In Week 14, Philadelphia's Carson Wentz suffered a year-ending knee injury, requiring Nick Foles to substitute as quarterback after poor performances with the St Louis Rams and Kansas City Chiefs after leaving the Eagles. Amazingly, one of these quarterbacks will be in the Super Bowl, and Minnesota are $1.55 favourites to defeat Philadelphia ($2.45) in the NFC Championship Game at Lincoln Financial Field.
Before his injury, Wentz was playing at an MVP-calibre level, throwing 33 touchdown passes and seven interceptions in 13 games. In four starts since taking over, Foles has thrown five touchdown passes and two interceptions; however, four of the touchdowns were against the New York Giants, who were a dismal 3-13 this season.
Foles guided the Eagles to a 15-10 Divisional Playoff win over the Atlanta Falcons, going 23-of-30 for 246 yards, but he isn't the force of Wentz. Philadelphia ran for almost 100 yards through running backs Jay Ajayi and LeGarrette Blount, and the defence restricted Atlanta quarterback Matt Ryan to 210 passing yards.
Minnesota seemed destined for vacation trailing 24-23 with 10 seconds remaining against the New Orleans Saints in their Divisional Playoff. Then Keenum found Stefon Diggs close to the sideline, and, due to a Saints defensive error, the wide receiver strolled into the endzone for a game-ending 61-yard touchdown and a 29-24 victory.
Despite one poor throw that was intercepted, Keenum was strong, going 25-of-40 for 318 yards, while the defence intercepted Drew Brees twice and held the Saints -- a strong running team -- to 80 rushing yards.
This game features two of the stingiest defences in the NFL, so points will be at a premium. With Foles at quarterback, the Eagles have scored 20 or more points only once in four games; they averaged 31 points a contest with Wentz at quarterback. The Vikings have scored almost 24 points per game this season with Keenum at the helm. In a tight tussle, I have more trust in Keenum than Foles.