Preparing for the playoffs
A look at the upcoming NFL championship teams.
The NFL playoffs are down to four teams, each just one more win away from going to the Super Bowl. I know there is a large concentration of Seattle Seahawks fans at TWU and I know it was a difficult time for all of you this past Sunday. However, as a Philadelphia Eagles fan, I know more about what you’re going through than you will ever understand. Just because your team lost in excruciating fashion and did so because of terrible coaching (again, I can relate to you more than you’ll ever understand) doesn’t mean it’s time to tune out the playoffs and move on to something else. Whether you’re a Seattle fan or not, there is still some great football ahead and there is a case to be made for each of the four remaining teams.
Atlanta Falcons: Maybe it’s true that the first one is the hardest to get and it’s all easy after that. Matt Ryan and Mike Smith were 0-3 in playoffs prior to Sunday. In spite of coach Smith’s best efforts to ruin it, the Falcons pulled out a miraculous victory on a late field goal that came after blowing a 20 point fourth quarter lead. The Falcons are an elite home team and will play the NFC title game at home on Sunday. Julio Jones, Roddy White, and Tony Gonzalez can make plays down field, if Atlanta can contain Colin Kaepernick they just might win a shootout on Sunday
San Francisco 49ers: The problem with containing Colin Kaepernick is that it is simply impossible to do. There is simply no consistent defense to beat a man with his size, speed, and throwing ability. After struggling late in the regular season, has righted the ship and once again looks like the impressive unit that allowed the fewest points in the NFL prior to Week 15. A strong running game lead by Kaepernick, Frank Gore, and former Oregon Duck LaMichael James (shout out) could be more than enough to win a sixth super Bowl for the 49ers.
Baltimore Ravens: sometimes sports can’t be reduced to math and match-ups. Sometimes, the reason a team can win goes beyond rational reason. The Baltimore Ravens in Ray Lewis’ farewell tour certainly qualify for one of these situations. Lewis has been playing with a large arm brace to protect torn triceps and has lead his team emotionally the best two weeks to wins many thought the Ravens couldn’t achieve on offense. Despite the naysayers, Joe Flacco has continued his postseason brilliance. Many discredit him as a marginal quarterback but the fact remains that he is the only QB to win a playoff game in each of his first five seasons in the league. The Ravens were a Lee Evans dropped pass away from beating the Patriots and making the Super Bowl last year; don’t count on them messing it up two years in a row.
New England Patriots: It all comes down to Tom Brady. A Quarterback in football influences and controls the outcome of a game more so than any other position in another sport. Brady is in the conversation for the greatest QBs to ever play which means New England always has a chance. A fourth Super Bowl ring could be the last resume booster Brady needs to officially be the greatest ever and he knows it too. The Patriots defense and running game is playing much better than the shoddy units that struggled to support Brady last year.
What will happen? The 49ers will rush for over 250 yards and get some big pass plays on play action to beat the Falcons soundly in Atlanta, 35- 20. The Ravens will shock the world and beat the Patriots. I believe in the Ray Lewis farewell tour. Furthermore, Baltimore has always played New England tough; they beat them, earlier this year and they should have beat them for the AFC championship last year. I expect to see Baltimore get redemption for last year when Anquan Boldin catches a late touchdown to beat t he Patriots, 31-28.