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2018 AFC Championship Game: Jaylen Brown and the Jaguars?

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Jaylen Brown of the Celtics is rooting for the Jags this weekend due to family ties, and it’s all good with me. Oh, and conference championship picks.

Philadelphia 76ers v Boston Celtics
For one day, Jaylen Brown is allowed to severe his Boston ties and root against the Patriots.
Photo by Brian Babineau/NBAE via Getty Images

I know this is a Patriots site, but for just a brief second – before I unveil my AFC and NFC championship picks for this Sunday – I’m going to talk about Jaylen Brown. I’m sure you’ve probably heard of him. He’s a rising young star for the professional basketball team that New Englanders like to root for.

I’ve loved Brown ever since the Celtics drafted him almost two years ago. Heading into the 2016 draft, he was who I had my heart set on. Loved his game. Loved what I thought he could bring to the team. And in a season and a half in Boston, he has lived up to the hype. After countless draft picks made by Danny Ainge that literally drove me up a wall, here was one that I really, really liked, and one that has panned out thus far. Jaylen Brown is a young kid that, along with Kyrie Irving, Al Horford and rookie Jayson Tatum (another phenomenal pick by Ainge), is helping the Rebel Alliance rise up in its quest to bring down the Galactic Empire, a.k.a. the Cleveland Cavaliers. Thanks to these guys, we’re currently watching the most exciting Celtics team since the 2008 dream season.

However, on Sunday, our beloved young Jaylen Brown is severing his ties with Boston sports fans for a day. I literally just found this out prior to writing this column (thanks for the column idea, Jaylen!), but Brown’s cousin is Jaguars cornerback A.J. Bouye. Because of that, it’s pretty clear who Brown will be rooting for during the AFC Championship game between the Jaguars and the Patriots on Sunday.

“Good luck to the Patriots, but I hope my cousin picks off Brady three times and takes it to the house,” Brown said in a postgame interview on Thursday. “So you can expect me to come to the game on Sunday with my A.J. Bouye jersey on.”

I was scrolling through Twitter when I came across this story. For like a millisecond, my selfish Pats fan persona came out. No, Jaylen! How could you do this to us?? You play for the city of Boston! The Patriots are Boston’s football team! You are one of us now! You HAVE to root for the Patriots! If you are associated with one of Boston’s teams, you get ALL of Boston’s teams! This is just how it works!

But then I let it go. I didn’t even realize Brown had a cousin that played in the NFL, but if I were in his shoes, I’d be doing the exact same thing. I mean, it’s not every day one of your family members has the opportunity to knock off Tom Brady and the Patriots in an AFC Championship game. Heck, if your cousin is one win away from going to the Super Bowl, you absolutely have to root for him. It doesn’t matter who his team is playing. Family always comes first.

So Jaylen, for this one special day, I give you permission to abandon your Boston loyalties (you know, because obviously he needs my permission) and root for the Jags over the Pats in the AFC title game. Best of luck to your cousin. You are still one of my favorite Celtics, and we all still love you anyway.

But with that being said, I hope Brady, with his bad hand and all, torches your cousin and throws five touchdowns. Maybe during Sunday’s Celtics-Magic game, the fans can get a “Let’s Go Pats!” chant ringing throughout the TD Garden.

Let’s pick two teams to go to Super Bowl 52.

EAGLES (+3) over Vikings

All week, I really wasn’t sure who I liked in the NFC Championship game. After all, the starting quarterbacks are Nick Foles and Case Keenum. Is that supposed to be exciting or something? Since I really wasn’t sure which direction to go, I decided to break out two rules from the old Bill Simmons Playoff Gambling Manifesto. Even though some of these rules no longer apply, I still always turn to this ancient column every time I’m in doubt.

The two rules are:

A) Beware of the road favorite.

B) When in doubt, seek out the popular opinion and go the other way.

Well, Rule A is easy. The Vikings are coming into Philadelphia as a three-point favorite, and are still riding high from that insane, improbable and absolutely ridiculous win last week against New Orleans. Can they keep that freakish luck going on the road this week?

Divisional Round - Atlanta Falcons v Philadelphia Eagles
Can LeGarrette Blount and the Eagles get it done on Sunday as home underdogs again?
Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images

And as for Rule B, it seems like everyone is leaning towards the Vikings on Sunday. Case Keenum has actually had a pretty good season, despite the fact that he’s Case Keenum. Minnesota is obviously roaring with momentum after last week, and they have this unusual plot twist going in their favor: if they reach the Super Bowl, they get to play it in their home stadium … something that has never been done before.

Because of all these factors, the Vikings seem to be the consensus pick. I personally have never been sold on this Vikings team, so as I usually do 99 percent of the time when I’m unsure, I’m going with the home team. Even if the home team’s quarterback is … sigh … Nick Foles.

The King’s pick: Eagles 17, Vikings 16.

PATRIOTS (-7.5) over Jaguars

It’s been quite a Cinderella run for the Jacksonville Jaguars, all the way to the AFC Championship game. Who would’ve thought that right now, in the middle of January, Blake Bortles and the Jags would be one more victory away from reaching the Super Bowl? How did this happen?

It’s been a combination of that ferocious Jacksonville defense making big plays (especially in the first half against Pittsburgh last week), Bortles occasionally making a decent play or two here and there, while still being pretty bad for the most part, running back Leonard Fournette coming up with some big runs … and a whole lot of luck.

Divisional Round - Tennessee Titans v New England Patriots
The Jaguars may have a dominant defense, but the Patriots have Tom Brady.
Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images

I’m praying to God that I’m not wrong about this, but this week is where Jacksonville’s luck has to finally run out – against Brady, Belichick and the Patriots in Foxborough. Many people seem to think the Jags’ defense just might be too much for the Pats to handle. During last week’s playoff game between the Jaguars and the Steelers – while Jacksonville raced out to a 21-0 lead in the first half – I received texts from friends saying things like “I’d be terrified of that Jags defense if I were you.”

I get it. Jacksonville’s defense is good. Actually, it’s really good. That’s the whole reason they are here. But a good defense can only carry you so far. Ask yourself this question: if someone was holding you at gunpoint and telling you that you have to correctly pick this game in order to live, are you going to bet your life on Blake Bortles? Or are you going to stick with Tom Brady and Bill Belichick at home?

Case closed.

The King’s pick: Patriots 30, Jaguars 18.