Conference Championship Takeaways

Falcons 44, Packers 21

  • The Falcons offense was just too much to handle for the Packers’ defense, but that shouldn’t excuse Green Bay’s offense from a letdown performance. They had a chance to get right back in this game from the jump; they drove the ball right down the field after the Falcons opening touchdown, but couldn’t convert for six and missed a field goal. Then, down 10-0 and clearly needing a score, the Packers drove down the field again only to fumble it away in the red zone. The only chance they had was to keep up with Atlanta’s scoring, and they failed to do that from the jump.
  • The Falcons clearly have an incredible offense, but what makes their Super Bowl run interesting is the lack of success teams alive have had in the past. Teams that lead the NFL in scoring are just 1-5 in the Super Bowl since 2000.
  • What makes this particular case even more interesting is the fact that Bill Belichick has two weeks to prepare; the Patriots have only struggled against teams with elite defenses — the Falcons defense has improved, but it features multiple rookies and a group that is definitely not “elite.”
  • It’s amazing how many weapons the Falcons have; Matt Ryan completed passes to eight different receivers in the first half alone! But, obviously, the one weapon that needs immediate praise is Julio Jones. Belichick always takes away opponent’s best player, and it’s going to be really interesting to see how he deals with the best receiver in the game on Super Bowl Sunday.

Patriots 36, Steelers 17

  • The Steelers, like the Packers, couldn’t get on the board early and let the game get away against a superior opponent. You can’t get behind vs. the Patriots in Foxboro, and the Steelers had multiple opportunities to take an early lead in this game. They simply couldn’t get it together and take advantage, and like the Packers, their multi-game winning streak came to an end without even a fight.
  • The Steelers dropped way too many big passes in this game, and despite Big Ben’s road struggles this year, I didn’t think he was the problem at all in this game… Their offense just didn’t show up, Le’Veon Bell went down with an injury early, and Antonio Brown was held quiet. Meanwhile, the Patriots had guys like Chris Hogan going for 180 yards receiving. They’re just on another level in these types of games, and the Steelers clearly weren’t up to the task.
  • A key point in the game: the Steelers had a chance to get huge points 1. before the half and 2. right after the half (received kickoff to start 2nd half). They couldn’t take advantage, and the Patriots put the nail in the coffin from there.
  • The Patriots were clearly comfortable dropping Brady back to rip apart the Steelers’ defense. I’m interested to see their approach vs. the Falcons; I think they’ll try and run the ball more frequently to keep them off the field.
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