Championship Round Thoughts
I think we all had this match up at the beginning of the season, right?
Well, that happened. My streak of perfect playoff predictions ended on Sunday. I thought the Green Bay Packers and Pittsburgh Steelers would play in the Super Bowl. Instead, it's the Atlanta Falcons and New England Patriots.
We probably should have all seen the Patriots thing coming. The top seed in the AFC has advanced to the title game most of the time in recent years, and between the flu, being behind and the fire alarm, the Steelers were at a serious disadvantage.
The other game is a head-scratcher. That Atlanta could win wasn't a surprise. That they'd destroy the hottest team in football, well that was. And this was yet another playoff weekend with lousy games. In 10 games in the Post Season, we have had only two really good, competitive games. That's a bad sign.
But we could be in for a good one in the Super Bowl. Hope springs eternal. And if not, there's always the prospect of the NFL sweating out a Lady Gaga half time show. Boom!
Here's some other thoughts:
* Most people, myself included, have under rated the Falcons. The Falcons had a quietly strong season. They went 11-5 and slipped into the two seed. The thing is, no one thought they were going to the Super Bowl. I certainly didn't. But the 53 players in that locker room did, and they played like it on Sunday.
* Le'Veon Bell is the most important player on the Steelers. There were a few reasons they lost Sunday, but none bigger than Bell going out early with an injury. He is a game-changing player, and the Steelers looked pedestrian with DeAngelo Williams in the lineup.
* The Patriots are favored and should be. Experience counts. Before this season, Matt Ryan had won just one playoff game. Tom Brady has won 100, I think. Just a rough estimate. And, of course, Brady has won the Super Bowl four previous times. Atlanta has its work cut out for it.
* That Matt Ryan MVP talk should have been real. Ryan accounted for five touchdowns in the NFC Championship. FIVE! That's a herculean effort. He is for real.