By: Adam Reckamp
After a terrible wild card weekend of NFL playoff games, last weekend’s playoff games were much better. The upward trend in the quality of games will continue this weekend with two incredible championship matchups. In the NFC, the Green Bay Packers visit the Atlanta Falcons in the last game in the Georgia Bowl. While in the AFC, the Steelers visit Tom Brady and the Patriots in Foxborough.
Packers at Falcons (-4.5)
When these two teams played earlier in the season, the Falcons won 33-32 at home. These two teams are much different today than back in week eight, but I still think the outcome is the same. The Falcons enter the game with one of the greatest offenses in NFL history according to DVOA and points scored. They should feast on the Packers, who have the 31 ranked passing defense in the NFL. Julio Jones will have no one to cover him with against the Packers depleted secondary. If the Packers double team him, the Falcons have Mohamed Sanu as a solid second threat as well as a solid rushing attack built around Tevin Coleman and Devonta Freeman. The Packers will be sure to put up a lot of points to match the Falcons, Aaron Rodgers is playing on another level right now and against the Falcon’s defense he should put up incredible numbers again. The key difference in the game the second time around though is Atlanta’s young defense. Vic Beasley led the NFL in sacks this season with 15.5, and should cause havoc against the Packers. One strip sack from him could change the entire game, and if the Falcons win the turnover battle, they will win the shootout. The game will be close, and the Georgia Dome will be rocking, but the Falcons will win and cover 41-31.
Steelers at Patriots (-6)
The Patriots beat the Steelers earlier in the season with Ben Roethlisberger not playing due to injury. These two teams both come into this one with high powered offenses, but this game will be less of a shootout than the NFC championship. Pittsburgh has had a much worse offense on the road this season and the Patriots have a huge advantage with the game in Foxborough. The Patriots also have a coaching advantage because as great as Mike Tomlin has been in Pittsburg, he’s no Bill Belichick. Roethlisberger hasn’t been anywhere near as good as Tom Brady this season, and the Steelers relied a lot on Le’veon Bell last game against the Chiefs. The Patriots have the second ranked rushing defense in the NFL though, and should be able to limit Bell. But as great as the Patriots are, the Steelers offense is too potent to get blown out, and should cover away in New England. Patriots win a close one 24-20.