Well, outside of the Pro Bowl, which will be played Sunday, January 29, 2017, in Orlando, Fl, the 2016-17 NFL Season has one more game to play. The AFC and NFL Championship games have both been played, and we have our two teams for the grand finale, Super Bowl 51, which will be played in Houston, TX, on February 5, 2017. The game will be aired on FOX, and kickoff is at 6:30pm, ET. The two teams, who will be playing for the right to be called Super Bowl Champion, are the 2016 AFC Champion and Four Time Super Bowl Champion New England Patriots, and the 2016 NFC Champion Atlanta Falcons, who are looking for their first Super Bowl in the history of the franchise. I congratulate both of these teams, and I hope for a great game, regardless of outcome.
In this blog, I will by reviewing the two Championship Games, which were played this past Sunday, January 22, 2017. I will be discussing how the Patriots and Falcons defeated their respective opponents, the Pittsburgh Steelers, and the Green Bay Packers, respectively. I will also give my thoughts on the two defeated teams. I will also give my first impression of the two Super Bowl teams, as well.
I am going to start with the NFC Championship Game, between the Falcons and the Packers. Falcons QB and MVP candidate Matt Ryan played like an MVP, as he has had all season. I love this guy. I always disregarded the doubters, who thought Ryan could not be an elite QB. Ryan was throwing the ball to several different receivers. He was poised in the pocket, and was not afraid to run in for a TD, either. He has plenty of weapons. WR Julio Jones is outstanding. Jones can just jump up, and reach for that ball. WR Mohamed Sanu is also a beast. The Atlanta defense is so fast. They made many outstanding defensive plays, and got after Packers QB Aaron Rodgers, another MVP candidate.
As for the Packers, despite their 4-6 start, I think they deserve to be given a ton of credit for making it as far as they did. I know many folks feel that Aaron Rodgers gets fawned over by the media quite a bit, but he did help lead the team all the way to the NFC Championship. I think all the injuries, illnesses, etc., just caught up to them in the NFC Championship Game. Even during the game, injuries popped up. Aaron Rodgers did not have one of his best games, either. However, you can not blame it all on him. The team made errors, like fumbling the ball, and not getting turnovers, when there were chances. It just wasn’t their day.
Packers’ Diagnosis: I think that the Packers need to reload. I know that this isn’t Ted Thompson’s style, but I don’t think it would hurt if the Packers looked at Free Agents, especially in the secondary. Their secondary was all banged up. I also feel that Aaron Rodgers has several good years left, as he is only 33 years old.
Now, I will discuss the AFC Championship Game, between the Patriots and the Steelers. There is an old expression, “Insanity is doing the same thing repeatedly, expecting different results.” Well, every time the Pittsburgh Steelers play that Zone Coverage against Tom Brady of the Patriots, the Steelers get their butts kicked. Well, I am sure you have watched the game, and you saw that the Steelers played ZONE DEFENSE against Tom Brady. I bet you know what happened. Yes. The Steelers got their butts kicked. Did anyone from the Steelers defense put a HAND on WR Chris Hogan or WR Julian Edelman or WR Danny Amendola? ANYONE?
Coach Mike Tomlin and Defensive Coordinator Keith Butler, defense is supposed to be your strong suit. You all made no half-time adjustments. You just had that team allowing Tom Brady and the gang march up and down the field at will. No wonder your star QB Ben Roethlisberger is thinking about retiring. Your defense is horrendous.
As for the Patriots, they were outstanding, on all three phases of the game. Tom Brady, who is going to a 7th Super Bowl, which is a record for a QB, was surgical. My favorite play was the flea flicker, that Chris Hogan caught. The other play I loved, was RB LeGarrette Blount’s run with all those Steelers draped over him. The Patriots defense did a fantastic job containing that high-powered Steelers offense. Yes, I realize that Steelers RB Le’Veon Bell aggravated a groin injury during the first quarter, but Ben Roethisberger had plenty of other wide receivers, including WR Antonio Brown. Unfortunately, for the Steelers offense, a few of the Steelers wide receivers dropped balls. Steelers Offensive Coordinator Todd Haley did not call a good offensive game, either.
Steelers’ Diagnosis: As previously mentioned, Ben Roethlisberger has recently mentioned retirement, and many in the sports media are going nuts. I am sure Steeler fans are wondering, as well. I think this is once again, Ben being Ben. Of course, Ben has suffered a ton of injuries over the last 13 years in the league. He has a wife and 3 kids, so that plays a part, as far as how much punishment he wants his body to take. One would have to be under a rock, if you didn’t know that there has been some behind the scenes drama, concerning the Pittsburgh Steelers lately. Much of it surrounds Antonio Brown, their extremely talented wide receiver. I LOVE Antonio Brown. That being said, Antonio Brown needs to grow up. His antics on Facebook, and pouting on the field, because he didn’t catch the TD has to stop. The Steeler defense has to get better, especially in the secondary. That secondary is horrendous.
An Early Look at the Two Super Bowl Contenders:
At first glance, I see in the Atlanta Falcons, a high-flying offense, that QB Matt Ryan leads, along with Offensive Coordinator Kyle Shanahan, who is expected to be the 49ers Head Coach next year. The Falcons defense, which is very quick, reminds me of past Seahawks defenses. That is no surprise, since former Seahawks Defensive Coordinator Dan Quinn is now the Falcons’ head coach. This team will be a tough team to stop.
At first glance, I see in the New England Patriots, a very adaptable offense, but also an offense that can score a lot of points. They are led by QB Tom Brady and Offensive Coordinator Josh McDaniels. The head coach is Bill Belichick. The Patriots have the #1 Scoring Defense. This will be interesting. How will Belichick take away what the Falcons do best? Will this be a scoring battle between Brady and Ryan? You will have to wait until my Super Bowl prediction on February 4th. Hope you enjoyed the blog. Feedback is welcome.