by Terri Bey
Good Afternoon, readers. Tomorrow, January 22, 2017, is AFC/NFC Championship Day for the 2016-17 NFL Season, for the American Football Conference, and the National Football Conference. The winner of each conference goes on to Super Bowl 51, in Houston, TX on February 5, 2017. Playing for the NFC Conference Game tomorrow, are the Atlanta Falcons, who host the red-hot Green Bay Packers. That game will be played at 3:05PM, EST. At 6:40PM,EST, in the AFC Conference Game, the Pittsburgh Steelers go into Foxboro, MA, and face the New England Patriots. Both of these games feature four outstanding teams, with four outstanding quarterbacks. Even though, there have been some rough games played during these playoffs, I am expecting these final four teams to put on two outstanding and entertaining games for the NFL audience.
In this blog, I am going make my predictions for tomorrow’s games. I hope you enjoy this blog. Let me know. Feedback is welcome. So, let’s get started. I will start with the NFC Conference Game, between the Atlanta Falcons and the Green Bay Packers. I am being facetious here, but is there going to be ANY defense in this game? The Falcons have the likely NFL MVP Matt Ryan, and his high-flying offense, including WR Julio Jones. The Packers have a RED HOT Aaron Rodgers throwing to an injury depleted receiving core, and his Packers are on an eight game winning streak. I mean, they are pulling people off the street to play wide receiver. OK, it is not THAT drastic, but WR Jordy Nelson is battling a serious rib injury, Davante Adams is injured. Nelson and Aaron Rodgers are battling illnesses as well. The team’s defense is a bend, but don’t break kind of defense. They have to be a bit more aggressive, and need to dial up a bit more blitzes to get after Matt Ryan.
The Atlanta Defense has to make Aaron Rodgers uncomfortable in the pocket, enough, that Rodgers makes mistakes. They can’t let Rodgers get out of the pocket. In the Divisional Round, they were extremely quick, and got to Seahawks QB Russell Wilson, who also is dangerous out of the pocket. They will have to be quick, again. On offense, Matt Ryan can not make mistakes. He has to get into a rhythm.
PREDICTION: I am expecting a high scoring game. I have gone back and forth, trying to decide a winner. Aaron Rodgers is red-hot, and has been, since he made his prediction that the team would “run the table,” when the team was 4-6. Matt Ryan, however, has finally blossomed into that great QB that I thought he could be. I have nothing against either of these guys, and I know Rodgers is getting fawned over, but I think the Falcons will punch their ticket to Houston.
ATLANTA FALCONS 40 GREEN BAY 37
Now, to the AFC Championship Game, between the New England Patriots and the Pittsburgh Steelers. I am going to confess, that I am a massive fan of BOTH teams. Long time Steelers and Patriots fan, but I will give you an honest assessment of both teams’ chances to win. Moving right along, here. The week leading up to this game started with a little drama. Steelers WR Antonio Brown posted a 17 minute Facebook video, that took place backstage, after their victory over Kansas City. Included in the video was Steelers Coach Mike Tomlin giving a speech about the next opponent, the Patriots, and Tomlin referring to the Patriots as “assholes,” and “having a day and a half to prepare.” The Steelers game was moved by the NFL, due to an ice storm in Kansas City, from 1:00pm, EST, to 8::40pm, EST, Sunday night. The Patriots played at 8:15:pm, EST, on Saturday.
Anyway, like the media usually does, they blow it out of proportion. Antonio Brown apologized, and will likely be fined by the NFL. Of course, both teams had to comment on this non-story. I personally thought it was a whole bunch of nothing. Should Brown have done it? No. Brown should have been listening to his head coach, and worried about his social media later. Will this affect him on the field? I doubt it.
On the Patriots side, Coach Belichick, and Tom Brady were all business at their Wednesday press conferences. Brady was particularly so serious, that an internet debate erupted as to whether he was ill. At his Friday presser, Brady seemed much more relaxed, but still focused. He brushed aside a reporter’s question about the current President, as well.
As for the game, I am going to start with the Steelers. Ben Roethlisberger is a fantastic QB. However, there are times, where he can be a liability. It is when he hangs on to the ball so long, trying to make a play. When he makes a play happen, it is awesome. When he screws up, and throws a pick, it is horrendous. Yes, it is disastrous, when any QB throws a pick, but Roethlisberger can win you the game, but he can lose you the game. He has to be careful with the ball. He is way better at HOME, than he is on the ROAD.
Roethlisberger must get the ball to his playmakers, WR Antonio Brown and RB Le’Veon Bell. Brown has such quick speed, and is great with it, when he gets the ball. Bell is just so patient, while he waits for a hole to open up. Once he gets daylight, he is gone. WR Eli Rodgers and TE Jesse James must step up.
The defense must do what the Houston Texans did the week before. They must try to get Brady off his spot. James Harrison has to have a great day.
What do the Patriots have to do, in order to win? The Pittsburgh Steelers have a good offensive line. The Patriots defensive line MUST penetrate, and stop Le’Veon Bell. They must stop Bell from making progress. They must harass Roethlisberger. When they get to Roethlisberger, they have to pin his ARM DOWN. They can not just grab him, and let his throwing arm dangle, or he will try to make a play. CB Malcolm Butler will have his hands full with Antonio Brown.
The Patriots offensive line MUST PROTECT Brady. I was at the Patriots vs Texans Divisional Round Game, and that offensive line was being bullied around, and Brady was being hit and harassed. The play calling has to be more balanced, and the running backs need to have a big day, as well. The other WRs, like Danny Amendola, and Michael Floyd MUST STEP UP.
PREDICTION: I think this will be an exciting game. I think time of possession will be a main factor in this game, and we will see a close game, as well. Much was made about Commissioner Roger Goodell’s avoidance of Gillette Stadium tomorrow. Well, after much consideration, I don’t think Commissioner Goodell is going to be able to hide from the inhabitants of Gillette Stadium, any longer.
NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS 35 PITTSBURGH STEELERS 27
Feedback: Alydace@yahoo.com @GioPontiFan