FROM THE PRESS BOX: ANYONE ELSE UP FOR A SUPER BOWL I REMATCH?
Today is my favorite football day of the season, in terms of the NFL — it’s conference championship day.
Although the Super Bowls have been pretty competitive the last few years, for years the majority were blow outs, so the best football was always the AFC and NFC Championship games.
This year, I think we’re in for at least one very entertaining game today, and a competitive Super Bowl.
Thoughts on the NFL Divisional Round:
• The Packers were dominant in a 32-18 win over the Rams, piling up nearly 500 yards in total offense, including 188 rushing yards against one of the best defenses in the NFL, while limiting the Rams to 244 yards of offense.
Green Bay looks like the best, most complete team left in the playoffs to me.
• New Orleans had a chance to take a big lead in the first quarter against Tampa Bay, but only managed a 6-0 lead, and it was game on.
Tom Brady had a solid game for the Bucs, but it was really their defense, with three interceptions of Drew Brees, that was the difference-maker.
If Brees is done in the NFL, it was a tough way for him to end a Hall of Fame career.
• What a difference a gael-force wind can make. A pair of high-powered offense were hamstrung by strong winds off Lake Erie last Sunday in Buffalo’s 17-3 win over Baltimore.
The Ravens actually had a big advantage in total yards 340 to 220, but the Bills were able to finish off their scoring drive, while Buffalo DB Taron Johnson put an end to Baltimore’s game-tying drive when he stepped in front of a Lamar Jackson in the end zone and raced 101 yards to a TD that all but wrapped up the win.
• It won’t surprise many people, but one thing we learned last weekend is that the Chiefs are a pedestrian offense without Patrick Mahomet at the helm. Yes, Chad Henne made a couple plays to clinch the win at the end, but first downs and touchdowns are two totally different objectives.
I’ve seen Baker Mayfield bashed a little bit this week, and I just don’t get it.
The Browns offense is designed to run the ball and control the clock. Mayfield’s role is to be a field general, to execute the play-action passing game, and complete a pass down field here or there to keep defenses honest. He played his role perfectly against an under-rated Chiefs defense.
If it hadn’t been for a fumble at the goal line, it’s quite possible the Browns would be battling the Bills this weekend.
Thoughts on the Conference Championship games:
• This Packers team seems like a team of destiny to me. Aaron Rodgers is playing as well as he ever has, and he’s surrounded by weapons, whether it be in the backfield, at tight end, or on the outside.
And, the defense can handle the run, put pressure on opposing QBs, and slow down opposing passing games.
On the other hand, Tom Brady seems destined for another Super Bowl. He seems bent on proving he was the reason for the Patriots’ dynasty, and not Bill Belichick. (I believe it was a perfect combination.)
Brady has had a great season, even without taking into consideration he’s 43 years old. However, I’m not sold on Tampa Bay’s ground game, and his favorite receiver as of late, Antonio Brown, will be inactive.
Again, I just have a feeling this is Green Bay’s year. … PACKERS 31, BUCCANEERS 17.
• This could be the game of the year — a match-up that pits two great offenses against two under-rated defenses.
It feels like it’s a game featuring the old gunslinger (Patrick Mahomes) and the new gun in town (Josh Allen), but Mahomes, although he has a Super Bowl ring, only has two more career starts than Allen.
After two mediocre seasons, Allen had a superb season. He has several weapons at his disposal, and wideouts Stefan Diggs and Cole Beasley are at the top of their game.
What more can you say about Mahomes. He can make every throw, from any angle, and he has two of the best in the game in wideout Tyreke Hill and tight end Travis Kelce.
Mahomes has been cleared to play after a concussion last week, but I wonder if he’ll be a bit one-dimensional this week, and avoid taking off and running with the ball. Speaking of Chiefs injuries, both running backs — Clyde Edwards-Helaire and Le’Veon Bell are questionable.
The Bills have had exceeded all expectations, and had an incredible season, but in the immortal words of a famous American poet, “to be the man, you have to beat the man.” Until someone beats them … CHIEFS 27, BILLS 24.
So, yes my pick is for a Chiefs-Packers Super Bowl — a rematch of Super Bowl I.
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