Well, here we are. I was a tad off in the NFC….but the AFC was fairly accurate only because of the dominance of the highest-seeded teams. Let’s see what to expect from this Sunday’s championship games and find out who I think will really make it to the Super Bowl in February.
Green Bay Packers at Atlanta Falcons
Postseason record: Green Bay leads series 2-1
Well, this turns out to be the more exciting of the match-ups for our weekend, as the Falcons are attempting to reach their first Super Bowl since 1998, where they flopped against a John Elway-led Denver Broncos team. Meanwhile the Packers are proving resilient, taking out the most dominant team of the season in the Cowboys – fueling the fire that claims the Dallas team just can’t be clutch in winter any more. Given they were missing Jordy Nelson and the Dallas team kept coming back despite an 18-point lead at half, Green Bay has to know they’ll need a large lead to start of this game as well. With the Falcons weapons firing on all cylinders, I’d expect the run tandem of Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman to break through at least once. They’ll also certainly find a way for Matt Ryan to get the ball to Julio Jones, and if not for a touchdown, they’ll get Mohamed Sanu in there as well. I do believe the Packers will attempt to prove their resilience again, but with Matt Ryan’s stellar season, I can easily see them looking at a second Super Bowl appearance this go-around. They’ve proved in the past they were ready, and losses on defense clipped their chances between this championship and they one they lost to San Francisco four years ago. This time, they’re making it. Atlanta 31-Green Bay 28
Pittsburgh Steelers at New England Patriots
Postseason record: New England leads series 2-1
Maybe it’s just me, but this match-up ends up being a tad boring. The Patriots are in the AFC Championship yet again, extending their record run of six straight appearances there. Since Tom Brady entered the league in 2000, the Patriots have only missed the playoffs twice (going under 10 wins once in 2002, and losing a tight tie-breaking division win of 11-5 to Miami in 2008). In the time they’ve had their run in the AFC, they’ve only made the Super Bowl four times – three of those very early in Brady’s career. The Seahawks defeat may have been their only aberration recently, as they were trounced by the Giants in their other two SB appearances, and haven’t been able to get back in because of the Broncos (thrice), Ravens (twice) and other various early exits. This time, though, they’re facing the Steelers for the third time in the postseason (and first for Brady since preventing the 15-1 Pittsburgh team to win in 2004.) The quarterbacks have faced each other twice now, and there’s a lot of history riding on this – both men’s legacies will be told here, as Brady is looking for Super Bowl ring number five, while Big Ben is looking for his third. Both men will certainly enter the halls of Canton no matter what the outcome here, but for Ben Roethlisberger to return from injury in a second straight season and make it to the Super Bowl would be sweeter than seeing the inhuman old man Brady make it yet again would be much more entertaining, to say the least. Both teams definitely deserve to be here, and the components are much more solid than their NFC brethren. I imagine the defenses will be a bit tighter than past meetings, but in the end the snow will play to Big Ben’s advantage. Pittsburgh 20 – New England 17.
So there you have it. We can expect to see Pittsburgh play Atlanta in Houston come February 5th. What will happen there? If I’m correct, I’m looking forward to seeing the delicate infrastructure of Pittsburgh fall victim to those crazy weapons Matt Ryan has at his disposal. I’m looking at Atlanta bringing home the Lombardi trophy for the first time…giving hope to sports there for the first time since the ’90s. At least that’s more exciting to me, anyway. Here’s hoping it ends up being the truth.