The playoffs are over. The small tournament to determine the Super Bowl teams came to a close late Sunday evening. This year’s Championship Sunday, or has the historians will call it, blowout Sunday, did not provide the quality of football that is normally seen on one of the most exciting days of the sports year. The Packers looked done half way through the first quarter and as soon as Le’Veon Bell gimped to the sideline in the first quarter, the Patriots victory was all but sealed.
Aaron Rodgers performance in the Packers 8 game winning streak convinced many that the injury filled Packers would ride his hot arm to the Super Bowl. Early in the game against the Falcons it looked like the Packers would at least make the game competitive up until Crosby missed a field goal and Ripkowski fumbled the ball inside the red zone. Being down 10 points when the game should have been tied at 10 is a small hole that the Packers couldn’t recover from.
Julio Jones is amazing to watch, even if his great performance was lubricated by the below average secondary of the Packers (Brice getting injured on the opening kickoff was a big hit to the Packers secondary). Jones is 6’3”, 220 pounds, and can run a sub 4.40 forty yard dash. He was covered by 2nd year cornerback LaDarius Gunter who is 6’1, 200 pounds who runs a 4.7 forty yard dash. That kids is what we call a mismatch. After easily blowing by Gunter and catching the pass, Jones manhandled the Packers secondary while out running them. Jones finished the day with 9 catches and 182 yards, a big portion of which came on a 73 yard touchdown reception. His 2 touchdowns and 182 yards made him the first player in NFC Championship game history to have two 150 yard, 2 touchdown performances in the championship game. Matt Ryan essentially guaranteed 2016 MVP honors on Sunday throwing for close to 400 yards and 4 touchdowns.
The Packers offense couldn’t keep up with the Falcons, losing by a score of 31-0 in the third quarter. Jordy Nelson was ineffective with his fresh rib injury and the receiving core dropped crucial passes. When the game was long over in the second half, Aaron Rodgers still played hard running the ball himself without sliding, absorbing big hits. In the 4th quarter he illegally stiff armed Falcons cornerback Robert Alford ripping his helmet off in the process. Rodgers bumped Alford on the sidelines who was in his path staring at him as he made his way back to the huddle. Alford then did his best LeBron James impression and threw his arms up in the air flopping on his back a good second and a half after Rodgers nudged him. The refs didn’t take the bait. Why do players do this? The replay doesn’t lie, the whole world can see the flopping.
The Falcons has a defense with obvious flaws, but that offense is impressive making them a scary team to play against in the Super Bowl. Two great running backs, a deep receiving core, a hot QB, and a good offensive line lead by Alex Mack is a group worthy of a Super Bowl appearance.
The Patriots went the first four games without Tom terrific but other than that, they have had one of the easiest trips to the Super Bowl ever. In their current 9 game winning streak, they played against the following quarterbacks: Colin Kaepernick, Ryan Fitzpatrick, Jared Goff, Joe Flacco, Trevor Siemian, Bryce Petty, Matt Moore, Brock Oswelier, and Ben Roethlisberger. The Texans were easily discard by the Pats and going into Sunday’s game against the Steelers, everyone was looking forward to the Pats finally being forced to play a good team. Then Bell got hurt. Without their running back Roethlisberger was required to throw more (and he didn’t play well) into double coverage as the Patriots were no longer scared of their running game. It’s uncontroversial to say that Matt Ryan is going to be the best QB the Patriots have faced in over 2 months.
That was a tough break for the Steelers. Brady played like it was 2007 throwing the deep ball to Chris Hogan (who had the same exact stats at Julio Jones) instead of Randy Moss. Adding more drama to the game, the fire alarm was pulled at 3am in the Steelers hotel waking the visiting team up the night before the game. Rumor has it, these fire alarm shenanigans are commonplace in Foxborough adding fuel to the “Patriots are cheaters” fire. Equally as unsurprising as Patriots cheater talk, Roger Goodell attended the Falcons home game for the second week in a row, avoiding the hostile Goodell hating New England crowd. During the game the crowd was heard chanting “where is Rog-er!” I said this at the beginning of the season, I am rooting for the Patriots to win the Super Bowl to watch the awkward hand off of the Lombardi Trophy between Goodell and Brady.
The Patriots biggest flaw is their defense, similar to the Falcons, giving this year’s Super Bowl matchup the potential to be the highest scoring in the game’s history (current the bookies over/under in Vegas for total points is hovering around 60).
Oh, I guess the Pro Bowl is the weekend. Not watching.