"The Stack" 1-19-

By ndstacken
Jan. 19, 2018

Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports
Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports

Tom Brady missed practice on Thursday with a hand injury. Is this a huge cause for concern in New England? Will it cause the Patriots to lose to the Jaguars? We'll find out on Sunday. Championship weekend is here.

Hello! Did you miss me? The Stack has been a little preoccupied with Baby Stacken, but we’re here with NFL championship weekend edition of our Football Friday post. There will be a couple of extra things as well as we look back at the week and some of the other big headlines outside of Petty Paul Pierce so let’s get right to “the stack” for today, Friday, January 19th:

What we missed

It sounds like the New England Patriots are losing two highly respected coordinators when their season ends, whether that is Sunday or two weeks from Sunday. Defensive coordinator Matt Patricia is going to be named the Detroit Lions head coach and Josh McDaniels is heading to Indianapolis to become the Colts new head coach. Both are good hires. Patricia reunites with GM Bob Quinn who came to Detroit from New England. I still wouldn’t have fired Jim Caldwell, but landing Patricia is a good replacement. McDaniels pairing up with Andrew Luck (assuming he’s healthy)? That could be a lethal combo.

In other NFL head coaching news Mike Mularkey and the Tennessee Titans “mutually” agreed to part ways on Monday following the team’s loss to New England on Saturday. The Titans are behind the eight ball a little bit in getting a new head coach, but Mike Vrabel from the Houston Texans or Steve Wilks from the Carolina Panthers. We shall see.

In other news, this must be the week of fights in the NBA. The Los Angeles Clippers and Houston Rockets had no love lost on Monday and Blake Griffin and a Rocket got ejected and then some Rockets took a secret tunnel and tried to get into the Clippers locker room at the Staples Center postgame. Chris Paul did not get suspended. Perhaps he should have been. Orlando Magic guard Aaron Afflalo did though after he threw a punch in their game against the Minnesota Timberwolves Tuesday. This should turn people away from the NBA, but I don’t think it will. I don’t think it’s a good look for the NBA, but it doesn’t seem like people really care.

A lot of top ranked college basketball teams keep going down like #4 Oklahoma to Kansas State earlier this week. #8 Wichita State fell and the n#7 team did too. This is a weird year in college basketball. Going to make life difficult to pick a good bracket come March Madness.

Then we get to the USA Gymnastics saga with the maligned Dr. Larry Nassar who sexually assaulted many gymnasts and the sentencing hearing. Such a sad state of affairs and a disgusting and angry story. I will not pretend like I know all of the details surrounding the case, so I will just leave it at that.

Let’s get to the championship games now shall we?

AFC Championship

Jacksonville Jaguars @ New England Patriots 3:05 PM ET CBS

The big question now going into this game is the health of Tom Brady’s hand. He apparently injured it in practice on Wednesday. Obviously no one really thinks he is going to miss the game, but that Jaguars defense is so good that if they can apply constant pressure and hit Brady a few times, Brady is going to get uncomfortable really quickly. It’s just really difficult for me (and everyone else for that matter) to see Blake Bortles outdueling Tom Brady. That Jaguars defense will keep them in the game, but the Patriots defense continues to improve and they are going to focus on taking away the Jaguars rushing attack and force Bortles to beat them. I don’t know if he can. It will be a frustrating day for Brady and the Patriots offense, but they will do just enough to get the win I think though it would not surprise me entirely if the Jaguars can pull off the upset.

Prediction: Patriots 23 Jaguars 13

NFC Championship

Minnesota Vikings @ Philadelphia Eagles 6:40 PM ET FOX

The Minneapolis Miracle. Need I say more about the Vikings? Okay we’ll talk more. I don’t think it was as difficult as some might think for this team to regain their focus after that miraculous play Sunday on the final play of the game against the New Orleans Saints to keep their season alive. The Eagles continue to take the fact that they are underdogs to heart, but does anyone really believe they are that big of an underdog to the Vikings and would be shocked to see them win? No. They are playing at home against a team that plays indoors. The weather is going to be nice (upper 40s or low 50s) so that’s perfect weather for football. The Vikings just have to make sure they aren’t slipping all over the field and falling down on crucial plays like Julio Jones did last week for the Atlanta Falcons. It’s going to come down to which quarterback can make the bigger play. Both defenses are outstanding. Nick Foles was reigned in a little bit last week for the most part. The Eagles are going to need him to take more shots down the field. His running game could be the biggest difference. The Vikings don’t need Case Keenum to make a bone-headed throw like his interception against the Saints. After the Minneapolis Miracle, aren’t the Vikings a team of destiny though? I am having a real hard time picking this game and my pick will likely change before kickoff.

Prediction: Vikings 23 Eagles 20

Listen to this week's "The Sports Block" podcast .

Coming up Monday: AFC and NFC Championship game reaction

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