Reverse Barometer: Championship Sunday
Yes, it’s Wednesday, but it’s never too early to get the Reverse Barometer out for a good solid look at the NFL Conference Championship games this weekend. And since we here at ScoreBoard nailed both Clemson’s National Championship and the Packers’ win at the Cowboys last Sunday, you may want to listen up. Or not. We’re on a roll but we’re also due for a loss, so read ahead at your own peril.
For those of you who are still drowning your sorrows in the Cowboys’ loss, get over it. Aaron Rodgers has done that to a few teams over the years. Time to look ahead.
Packers at Falcons – NFC Championship
The biggest question is “will Jordy Nelson be back?” Guess what? It may not matter. When Rodgers is throwing the pill, he turns the ordinary receivers into stars. Did you see how he shredded Dallas’ defense on Sunday? Nelson would obviously help, but Rodgers is more of the key here than Nelson. Run the table? And how. But can they finish the job in the NFC with a win at Atlanta?
Matt Ryan is no slouch himself. He’s a new man after disappearing for a couple of seasons and the reason why the Falcons are hosting this game. Will Julio Jones’ foot be a factor? If it is, that’s an issue. Ryan is good but he doesn’t quite have the Rodgers ability to make chicken salad out of, well, average receivers. Bet on Jones being ready though.
The thing no one is talking about – the Falcons’ D. They were swarming the ball vs. Seattle last week and their young players on that side of the ball are making the difference. Rodgers will get his, but if Atlanta can slow down Green Bay a little bit (unlike the job Dallas did), it could spell doom for the Pack.
Atlanta 37, Green Bay 24
Steelers at Patriots – AFC Championship
The Patriots are like a horror movie out of the 80’s – they just keep coming back no matter what is thrown at them. This is what happens when you have Bill Belichick on the sideline combined with the best signal-caller ever in Tom Brady.
But if there is one team that can give the Pats a run it is these Steelers. Le’Veon Bell will be the priority target of Belichick’s defense and if they can stymie that, New England will be going to Houston. Look for the Steelers to get Bell involved in the passing game. I think it may be effective.
Then there’s that Brady guy I spoke about. Yeah, him. The Pittsburgh pass rush has been awesome and it better continue to be on Sunday to give the Steelers a chance. If they can put some pressure on Brady, they can do themselves a lot of favors. Make him uncomfortable back there, maybe throw a pick or two.
Ben Roethlisberger may be one of the most underrated quarterbacks to ever play. All the guy does is win. Betting against him or Brady – good luck. He’s still dangerous. Can Big Ben pull off another upset?
It is hard to pick against the Patriots, so we won’t go there as well. It does come down to coaching and I think Mike Tomlin is as underrated as they come. Belichick is simply too good though. Expect a very close game. Heck, we deserve it.
Patriots 27, Steelers 23