And then there were four. Only the Pittsburgh Steelers, New England Patriots, Green Bay Packers, and Atlanta Falcons remain. Come Monday, two will prepare to be bombarded with every question imaginable during the Super Bowl media week, while certain players from the other two will decide if they want to be bombarded with rubber balls in Orlando.
Last week, the guys at FY (me included!) went 3-1 picking winners for the Divisional Round of the NFL Playoffs. This week, we’re going undefeated, just like the ’72 Dolphins. (I’d say 2-0 is just as impressive as 17-0.) So don’t keep reading unless you want to know what happens on Sunday.
If you don’t mind a spoiler, here are the aforementioned winners.
Game 1: Green Bay Packers at Atlanta Falcons
On one side, you have a wall that is completely torn down: the Packer defense. On the other, you have a wall that may still be in one piece, but is ready to crumble with any bit of impact: the Falcon defense.
Only one team allowed more net passing yards than the Packers during the regular season (269.2 per game), and their secondary has been even worse in the playoffs, surrendering 293 net yards through the air. Ladarius Gunter could not cover Dez Bryant last week, and it’s not going to get any easier for him this week, drawing Julio Jones. The Packers are going to have to provide Gunter with a ton of help; they will end up exposing themselves in all other areas.
Aaron Rodgers will likely turn this game into a shootout, but with Jordy Nelson out and Davante Adams hobbled, that cracked wall may be able to hold for a while. Atlanta will punch its ticket to the Super Bowl.
Game 2: Pittsburgh Steelers at New England Patriots
This one isn’t as easy to put together as the last. On the left you have an individual who must capture every detail of her life to share with all her friends and followers on social media. Yes, I’m referring to Antonio Brown and the Pittsburgh Steelers.
On the right, you have two 20k gold coins from the Scandinavian Monetary Union. “Uhhh … Ty, what the hell do Scandinavian coins have to do with the New England Patriots?” Well, that monetary union was based on the gold standard, which is a phrase that’s been applied to the Patriots so many times this week.
The Patriots third-ranked rush defense has stumbled a little of late, allowing 100 yards on the ground in two of their last three. The Steelers may be their toughest test yet. This week, Belichick will be tasked with the seemingly impossible: slowing down Le’Veon Bell. Pittsburgh’s versatile back has averaged 146.5 rushing yards per game over his last eight, and totaled 149 yards from scrimmage when these two met in Week 7.
Belichick will sellout to stop Bell, forcing Big Ben to beat the Patriots’ defense through the air. Antonio Brown will see coverages shifted towards him, and it will be up to Eli Rogers and Jesse James to make New England pay.
Tom Brady tied his season total for interceptions last week against the Texans, and the offense did not look like its dominant self. Dion Lewis may not have the same success against the speedy Steeler linebackers, but Pittsburgh won’t have an answer for Julian Edelman out of the slot. Tom Terrific will show up this week and put himself one step closer to becoming the first quarterback to win five Super Bowl rings.