NFL playoff analysis

Friday, January 27, 2017, Vol. 41, No. 4
By Terry McCormick

Since there is an off-week before Super Bowl LI, we will save our prediction for next week.

But we can go ahead and analyze how the conference championship games went down Sunday with the Patriots and Falcons both making quick work of their opponents in order to reach the title game.

The Patriots were once again the big news as the franchise heads to an NFL record ninth Super Bowl and its seventh in the Tom Brady/Bill Belichick era.

Brady and the Patriots made quick work of Pittsburgh, 36-17, in a game that quickly got out of hand with Steelers running back Le’Veon Bell out early with a groin injury.

Brady sliced and diced the Steelers to the tune of 382 yards passing with three touchdown throws, including a pair of scoring passes to Chris Hogan.

Yeah, I know, I can’t believe I typed Chris Hogan with two touchdowns, either. But that is the way of Brady and the Patriots. Unknowns, unheraldeds and players who may have been so-so on other teams somehow find success in New England.

What it adds up to is another Super Bowl opportunity for the Patriots, and the chance for Brady – Deflate-gate suspension and all – to become the first quarterback to win five Super Bowls.

Over on the NFC side, the Green Bay Packers came in red hot only to run head first in a buzzsaw that was the Atlanta Falcons offense.

Before Aaron Rodgers and the Packer offense knew what hit them, Matt Ryan, Julio Jones & Co. had put the game way with a 31-0 lead on their way to a 44-21 rout in the final game ever in the Georgia Dome.

Now, the franchise will try to do something it has never done – win a Super Bowl. The Atlanta offense is certainly Super Bowl worthy, though other high-octane attacks have fallen short in recent Super Bowls – the 2007 Patriots and 2013 Broncos come to mind. What may be more fascinating is the development of the Atlanta defense in recent weeks, which seemingly has gotten better as the postseason has gone on.

Here’s hoping that the game lives up to the hype.

Oh, and one last little note for those of you who believe in karma or coincidence or history repeating itself:

The Falcons’ only Super Bowl came in 1998. That was followed by the Titans’ lone appearance, seemingly out of nowhere, in 1999.

Could the Titans do the same and follow the Falcons back to the title game in 2018. If you believe in those sorts of oddities and happenings, then go to Vegas, where the Titans are 50:1 odds to win Super Bowl LII.