Its Falcons and Patriots In The Super Bowl
PATRIOTS, FALCONS CRUISE TO "W'S" ON CHAMPIONSHIP GAME SUNDAY
Houston, we have a problem!
No, no, the Super Bowl LI matchup between the (for now) 3-point favorite New England Patriots and the Atlanta Falcons figures to be a blast come Sunday, Feb. 6th as both teams are hotter than a firecracker but we're just afraid of taking in the opinions of all the "experts" out there.
No kidding, the New York Daily News, for example, has an eight-man consensus box that makes National Football League selections all year long and - believe it or not - everyone picked Green Bay plus the points in the NFC Championship Game on Sunday and all but one dude selected Pittsburgh plus the points in the AFC Championship Game ... plus most of the TV talking heads we watched/listened to all week leading up these games were wrong, wrong, wrong!
Not us! It was a win, win weekend all the way around. 100 Units on the Falcons and 15 Units on New England
Now, the "experts" are gonna fill your heads with all kinds of junk these next two weeks - and then as sure as the sun rises in the East, sets in the West -- we gotta believe most of the "experts" will be wrong when it comes to Super Bowl 51.
Okay, so the folks at Fox and CBS and ESPN all spread the word on Sunday night that the Patriots are headed to the franchise's ninth Super Bowl (the Pats are 4-4 in the big game) and this the Falcons' first trip to the Super Bowl since the 1998 season but reality says nobody's ever been hotter on offense heading into a Super Bowl than this Atlanta crew that's scored 44, 36, 38, 33, 41 and 42 in its last six games (yes, all wins, 5-of-6 pointspread covers) while you take a look at the Pats and realize they've now won five in a row and six of their last seven games by twin-figure margins and we're talking about a New England team that's now - get this - 15-3 ATS (against the spread) this year.
The Pats have only lost one game with QB Tom Brady (384 yards passing with 3 TDs and 0 INTs Sunday) on the field - see Seattle 31-24 back in Week 10 - and if the Atlanta folks wish to take any solace in that regular-season game then consider it came after the Patriots' bye week ... ahhhh.
Naturally, we will have plenty to say about Super Bowl LI, its players, coaches, etc. in the next two weeks but first let's get you a little reminder and then we'll give quickie re-caps to a pair of championship games that, let's say, lacked for overall drama.
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NFC CHAMPIONSHIP GAME - ATLANTA 44, GREEN BAY 21
Gotta say it looked as if the sharpies in Las Vegas were begging the public to bet Green Bay plus the 6-point price here - but did anyone think Atlanta would score seemingly on every possession en route to this laugher? Okay, so QB Matt Ryan (392 yards passing with 4 TDs and 0 INTs) is the toast of the town but it was a 14-yard scoring tumble into the end zone that showed this player/this club is ready/willing/able to go beyond conventional ways to score.
Let's just say the Packers' ill-equipped and admittedly short-handed secondary never stood a chance against the likes of WR Julio Jones (9 catches for 180 yards and 2 TDs) and friends but trust us when we tell you that Fox announcers Joe Buck and Troy Aikman hit the nail on the head when they compared this up-and-coming Falcons' defense to the one Atlanta head coach Dan Quinn helped to mold back in Seattle in recent years. The "D" hurried/harassed/hit Green Bay QB Aaron Rodgers and in two weeks we'll see if DE Vic Beasley and mates can make Mr. Brady a tad uncomfortable.
THE NFC CHAMPIONSHIP GAMES - PAST 10 YEARS
Here's a little refresher on the past 10 NFC Championship Games (all home teams are in CAPS below):
|2016||ATLANTA||- 6||Green Bay||44-21|
|2014||SEATTLE||- 8.5||Green Bay||28-22 (ot)|
|2013||SEATTLE||- 3.5||San Francisco||23-17|
|2012||San Francisco||- 4||ATLANTA||28-24|
|2011||NY Giants||+ 2||SAN FRAN||20-17 (ot)|
|2010||Green Bay||- 3.5||CHICAGO||21-14|
|2009||NEW ORLEANS||- 4||Minnesota||31-28 (ot)|
|2007||NY Giants||+ 8||GREEN BAY||23-20 (ot)|
AFC CHAMPIONSHIP GAME - NEW ENGLAND 36, PITTSBURGH 17
Why does it always seem that when the Patriots host a playoff game it's either raining, snowing or both?
In Sunday's never-in-doubt win against the Steelers, the rain came down sideways and so all was right for Pats head coach Bill Belichick (always love the hoodie look in January!) but while the weather was predictable, who out there in NFL-land saw this game coming by WR Chris Hogan (9 catches for 180 yards and 2 TDs - the same exact stats as Atlanta WR Jones!) and those numbers could've been better 'cause he dropped a couple of Brady aerials.
Yes, the Pats were given a major break when Steelers' ace RB Le'Veon Bell went down after just six carries and 20 yards with a severe groin injury but we're quite sure Pittsburgh WR Antonio Brown won't be livestreaming his game that produced a non-factorish 7 catches for 77 yards).
The Steelers dropped a bucket full of throws by QB Ben Roethlisberger (314 yards passing with 1 TD, 1 INT) and Mike Tomlin's secondary was a wreck - why didn't they even challenge Hogan, WR Julian Edelman and mates instead of always giving up a 10-yard cushion?
Gee, wonder what Tomlin said to Belichick during the post-game handshake ... hope he kept the swear words to a minimum!
THE AFC CHAMPIONSHIP GAMES - PAST 10 YEARS
Here's the most recent AFC Championship Game winners and note all home teams in CAPS below:
|2016||NEW ENGLAND||- 5.5||Pittsburgh||36-17|
|2015||DENVER||+ 3||New England||20-18|
|2014||NEW ENGLAND||- 7||Indianapolis||45-7|
|2013||DENVER||- 5||New England||26-16|
|2012||Baltimore||+ 8||NEW ENGLAND||28-13|
|2011||NEW ENGLAND||- 7||Baltimore||23-20|
|2010||PITTSBURGH||- 4||NY Jets||24-19|
|2009||INDIANAPOLIS||- 8||NY Jets||30-17|
|2007||NEW ENGLAND||- 14||San Diego||21-12|