Monday, January 23, 2017

NFL Championship Weekend Recap: The Super Bowl Is Set

By Katelin Marshall, @KatelinKnowsCLE

NFC Championship Game: Atlanta Falcons 44 Green Bay Packers 21

The Falcons clinch the NFC Championship for the second time in team history. The first was in 1998-1999 season when they defeated the Vikings 30-27.

This game was over at half time when the Falcons had a 24-0 lead. The Falcons completely dominated the Packers. Matt Ryan threw for 392 yards and five total touchdowns (four through the air and one on the ground). Julio Jones caught nine passes for 180 yards and two touchdowns. The Falcons' offense scored on 7/9 of their drives (six touchdowns). In total they completely dominated the Packers. The Falcons out-gained the Packers 493-367, won the time of possession 33:39-26:21, and converted 10/13 third down attempts compared to the Packers who only went 4/10.

The Packers shot themselves in the foot early in this game. After giving up a touchdown to start the game, the Packers drove down field and ended up missing a 41-yard field goal. In their next drive (down 10-0), the Packers ended up fumbling the ball while in the redzone. Aaron Rodgers had a really good game, throwing for 287 yards, three touchdowns and a pick. But Rodgers felt pressure constantly, getting hit seven times (two sacks) and having seven of his passes deflected.

It seemed liked the Packers ran out of gas. They had multiple wideouts playing hurt, they suffered two offensive linemen injuries, and a number of injuries on the defensive side of the ball. But the Falcons took advantage of it and good for them. With this game Matt Ryan solidifies himself as one of the elite quarterback in this league.

AFC Championship Game: New England Patriots 36 Pittsburgh Steelers 17

Another blowout in these playoffs which results in New England winning the AFC championship for the 9th time in team history (7th with Brady at QB). The Patriots seemed to be in control on offense from the first snap. They drove down the field on the first drive of the game, and if not for a drop on 3rd and 1 the Patriots were deemed to get a touchdown. The score of the first half was a bit misleading 17-9 Patriots. The Steelers had problems getting to Tom Brady which resulted in numerous breakdowns in their coverage.

Brady picked the Steelers apart, throwing for 384 yards and three touchdowns. Chris Hogan caught nine passes for 180 yards and two touchdowns and Julian Edelman caught eight passes for 118 yards and a touchdown. It was total domination on offense for the Patriots. And on defense they forced two turnovers and held the Steelers offense to only 368 total yards.

The Steelers offense struggled after the first quarter when Le'Veon Bell exited the game with a hamstring injury and wasn't able to return. The Steelers had to rely on their passing offense. Big Ben threw for 314 yards on 31/47 attempts and their leading receivers were Antonio Brown with seven catches for 77 yards, Eli Rodgers with seven catches for 66 yards and Deangelo Williams also had seven catches but only for 51 yards. The Steelers only averaged 6.7 yards per passing attempt compared to the Patriots who averaged 9.1 yards per passing attempt.

The Patriots show once again they are the class of the AFC and the NFL. This is the seventh time Brady and Belichick will represent the AFC in the Super Bowl. Both are arguably the greatest player/coach in NFL history and the best duo in league history.

Super Bowl LI is going to be an awesome matchup. Its really not just two great team matching up but two of the NFL's top quarterbacks and two of the best offensive play callers in the game. So naturally this Super Bowl is going to be a low scoring game, right? Whether it is or isn't this game should be entertaining or lets hope it is because the playoffs leading up to it really hasn't been.

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