What a weekend!
Get it together because it’s bound to get even more stressful.
Here is a little bit of background information in order to better understand how we got here and what the next round is all about: The Super Bowl was not always around.
Before there was ‘The Super Bowl’, there were two main American Football leagues: AFL and NFL, with respective champions. They decided to merge in 1966. It’s a little complicated, but what matters right now is this: when you get to the Conference Championships (this Sunday), a Champion from each conference will be crowned. This means someone will go back home with a pretty sweet Conference trophy AND get a chance to play in Super Bowl LI on February 5th.
NFC Championship Game Green Bay Packers @ Atlanta Falcons
Green Bay is coming in with too many injuries and that’s never a good sign. My main concern happens to be their best Wide Receiver, Jordy Nelson. During the Wild Card game, Nelson took a huge hit while playing against the Giants, breaking ribs and was then sidelined during the Divisional Round against the Cowboys. To make matters worse, the Packers #2 receiver, Davante Adams is also injured and status unknown for Sunday.
Lets talk about a clutch player: Packers QB Aaron Rodgers is almost single-handedly carrying his entire team. Will Rodgers and the Packers muster up the fortitude to extend their winning streak to nine games? I think so.
The first NFC Championship Game in four years for the Falcons is seeing them as favorites according to Las Vegas. The last time they met in Atlanta, the Falcons won by one point 33-32. Atlanta has the number one scoring offense while Green Bay is third. In the post season, Atlanta is first in yards and second in points, while Green Bay is second and first respectively. All this will undoubtedly add up to a high-scoring affair this Sunday.
Even though people are dismissing the impact that each of the team’s defenses will have in the game, playoff football has the uncanny ability of reminding us how important this side of the game can be. As many experts have pointed out, both defenses will allow a high number of yardage against such high-powered offenses. Yet, all it takes is one mistake. Whichever defense comes away with a turnover at the right time could prove to be the deciding factor in the game. During the Packers’ eight-game winning streak, their turnover differential has been a fantastic +16 (18 takeaways to 2 giveaways). This will need to continue if the Packers have any shot at punching their ticket to Houston. It won’t be easy for the Packers, but then again Conference championships were never supposed to be easy.
Get ready for some nail-biting last minutes…again.
AFC Championship Game Pittsburgh Steelers @ New England Patriots
First lets draw attention to the fact that New England is now tied with Dallas for the most consecutive seasons advancing in the postseason (6). This is Tom Brady’s NFL- record 11th Conference Title Game, same as his coach’s. That won’t be enough for Bill Belichick and his team though. They’re looking to secure their chance to win New England’s fifth Super Bowl.
On October 23, New England won in Pittsburgh 27-16. Although Big Ben missed that game because of a knee injury, the Patriots have dominated most of their opponents with Brady under center after the Deflategate suspension. Don’t get me wrong, Big Ben’s presence is a mayor deal and if anyone can beat the Patriots it’s them, but not even Rob Gronkowski’s absence will be enough to tip the scales in the Steelers favor. Tom Brady has consistently dominated the Steelers defense, but the Patriots need to make sure to slow down both Le’Veon Bell (RB) and Antonio Brown (WR).
When it comes to Conference Title games, the Patriots have a home record of 5-1. They’re 3-3 on the road, but two of those three games were against the Steelers. Pittsburgh is 6-5 at home and 2-2 on the road. The Patriots are 5.5-point favorites, and my pick to move on to meet the Green Bay Packers in the Super Bowl.
Guest Contributor Alma Frontera –HipLatina