The Championship Round games certainly weren’t as competitive as most fans, including myself, expected them to be, but the I think the decisive fashion in which both New England and Atlanta leaves no doubt that the best teams from each conference remain and that will set the stage for a potentially great Super Bowl Game.
I think Vegas installing the Patriots -3 as the favorite is about right. I picked the Patriots to win the whole thing in a pre-season blog post and I’m not changing that prediction now. Here is what I wrote last September…
AFC Conference Champion: New England–Steelers, Bengals, as well as Kansas City and possibly Denver could provide tough tests to the Patriots in the play-0ffs. It will be interesting to see how the Patriots fare with Jimmy G at QB. If they go 2-2 with Garoppolo at the helm I think there a good chance that they will be able to amass the best record in the AFC and secure home field advantage in the play-offs and that will be important.
NFC Conference Champion: Green Bay–I think there are at least four teams that have a good shot at winning the NFC. In addition to Packers I would add Arizona, Seattle and, of course, the defending NFC champions, the Carolina Panthers. I won’t be at all surprised if any of those wins the NFC, I’m going to go with the Packers.
Superbowl Champion: New England–Any doubts about Belichick and Brady both being GOAT’s will be put to rest when the Patriots win Super Bowl LI in Houston.
Packers came close, but obviously collapsed in the end. I must admit that I did not see the rise of the Falcons coming. They really exceeded expectations this season. I am concerned about the Falcons because of their prolific offense. I think highly the Falcons coaching staff and I like Ryan. He was definitely the league’s MVP this season.
However, I think Belichick and his coaching staff will have the Pat’s well prepared and they will take away a few of Ryan’s weapons on offense. They may not be able to shut down star WR Julio Jones, but they will stop other guys. I also expect the Patriots to limit the Falcons offense simply by keeping it off the field. I know, easier send than done, but I think NE’s offense can do that. I expect they will run the ball a lot and Brady will throw a lot of short passes to pile up 1st downs and time of possession.
If the Falcons offense does drop bombs early and they jump out to a big lead the Pat’s will be in deep trouble, but I think they can avoid that.
So, I’m going to take Patriots -3.
The Over/Under is a SB high 59 and I will take the Under.
Patriots 31 Falcons 27