Monday, January 23, 2017

Week 20 NFL Notes

What is worse—getting blown-out, or losing a close game? I suppose for Packer fans it is disappointing that this season wasn’t a repeat of the 2010 season, when the Packers blew-out the favored Falcons 48-21 along the way to a Super Bowl victory. The outcome of this season’s NFC Championship game was never in doubt, thanks to a Packer defense that carried on as it had in the fourth quarter last week—practically non-existent in a 44-21 rout, so that Packer fans at least had lots of time to absorb the result. No sacks and no interceptions is no way to keep Matt Ryan and Julio Jones in check, especially with Aaron Rodgers supposedly suffering from some illness. Although the Packers entered the game “full strength” with Jordy Nelson, Davante Adams and Geronimo Allison playing, that might not have been as helpful to the cause if their injuries limited their effectiveness, much like Robert Griffin III hurt the Redskins’ chances by staying in the game after injuring his knee in the first quarter of an eventual loss to the Seahawks in the 2012 Wild Card round. 

Nevertheless, the Packers did advance farther than anyone believed after a four-game losing streak mid-way in the season. The Packers did silence those annoying Cowboys/Dak Prescott bandwagon fanatics for at least a couple more weeks, and for me that victory was satisfying in the way the Wisconsin Badgers upset the “experts” by beating a 38-0 Kentucky team (that supposedly could compete against the lower-rung NBA teams) in the NCAA Final Four a few years ago; they might not have won the finals against Duke, but at least they insured that they would be more than a mere footnote because of that victory. 

The AFC Championship game was no more competitive. Antonio Brown was supposedly suspended for live streaming a locker room speech by his coach, but with things quickly going south for the Steelers that was just a forgotten detail. Not that it mattered at that much, with Le’Veon Bell out of commission most of the game and Tom Brady slicing-and-dicing the Steeler secondary, completing 32 of 42 passes for 382 yards on the way to a 36-17 victory for the Patriots. 

This Super Bowl will at least have historical significance in the fact that Bill Belichick will have an opportunity to match Vince Lombardi’s five titles, although it took Lombardi just seven years, and Belichick 16 years. Needless-to-say, I’m rooting for the Falcons.

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