NFL 2016-2017 Conference Championship Picks & Analysis – FootballSunday, January 22, 2017 12:00
Picks & analysis for 2016-2017 NFL AFC & NFC Conference Championships Games.
NFL Conference Championships
DIVISIONAL WEEK: 2 – 2 = .500
Overall Tally: 131 – 122 – 11 = .518
Specials 2 – 1 Cumulative Specials: 33 – 39 – 3 = .449
Totals Picks: 3 – 1 Cumulative Totals = 62 – 47 – 1 = .562
GAME OF THE WEEK 12 – 7
LOCK OF THE WEEK 6 – 10 – 2
UPSET SPECIAL 8 – 10 – 1
OVER/UNDER OF THE WEEK 7 – 12
GAME OF THE WEEK 11 – 7 LOCK OF THE WEEK 6 – 10 – 2
GREEN BAY PACKERS (12-6) @ ATLANTA FALCONS (12-5) – 5.5 61.5 [U]
After last week’s heroics, Aaron Rodger’s balls have been washed so many times they probably look like prunes taking a sauna.
My god, you had experts on every airwave and web server calling this pass, “the greatest throw in the history of football:
Please scroll 3/4 of the way down and watch the play unfold—it’s a designed roll out left—read the copy. Rodgers knew the pass had to be in one spot and one spot only. The only thing was, don’t throw a pick. If he missed, it’s overtime—he wasn’t under that much pressure. Geez!
Don’t get me wrong, great throw but Big Ben’s game winning throw in the Cardinals Super Bowl was his fourth option, on fourth down, with a Lombardi on the line. Anyone remember John Elway’s TD throw that ended “The Drive?”
Why does every play have to be the greatest, every player a “first ballot HOFer?” It gets old when the media—charged with governing perspective—only hypes a story into an absurd stratosphere.
Rodger’s magic ends today. The Green Bay running game stinks and the Falcons finally found one. The Green Bay defense stinks, and the Falcons defense isn’t that much worse
I made my mind up early last week watching the Falcon’s highlights. Matt Ryan had that look like he believed; like he finally saw it unfolding before his eyes.
Here is the deciding fact for this handicapper:
The Pack has played 15 straight football games.
In the last 10 weeks, the Falcons have had two byes.
By the fourth quarter, the Birds of Prey will be licking their chops—the Meat Men will be gasping for air.
I’m looking at an easy Falcons win—I’ll go against the grain and play the Under.
Falcons 33 Packers 24
UPSET SPECIAL OVER/UNDER OF THE WEEK
PITTSBURGH STEELERSS (13-5) @ NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS (15-2) -6.5 50.5 [U]
A week that began with Antonio Brown making a fool of himself disrespecting his team, head coach and a formidable opponent will end with a game for the ages at The Razor.
Too bad Bill Belichick is a chump cheater. Defeating a true legend like Vince Lombardi or Chuck Noll, or Tom Landry has a unique deliciousness.
Defeating a two-bit cheater tastes a little bland.
Look, my annual Spygate/Deflategate/Patriotgate rant is going to be short and simple this year. I give you this link:
If any Patriots fan can read that article—watch the video too—and come away with the typical wicked stupid, arrogant attitude denying Belichick cheated the game deliberately, willfully, and consistently for the better part of a decade, then you are a blind, stupid troglodyte that doesn’t respect the sport or athletic competition.
This year, though, we’ll make sure we indict his players and coaches, too—They knew exactly what they were doing. For all the talent Brady and fellow Patriots like Vince Wilfork, Willie McGuinest, Rodney Harrison, Romeo Crennel, and Josh McDaniels and any other cheater connected to Bill Belichick have as players or coaches, they, too, are cheaters.
After our annual—“Belichick is a Disgrace Rant”—we follow that up by lamenting how much the Patriots would have won if the playing field had been leveled. The 2016 version of the Patriots is without star power if you don’t count Tom Brady—we do.
The leagues best scoring defense—ranked 8th overall—plays in Foxboro. The NFL’s most disciplined, best tackling, most fundamentally sound and consistently executed defense resides in New England.
Pundits insist New England hasn’t faced an offense as diverse and deep as Pittsburgh’s.
That’s an accurate take. In the last nine weeks, the Pats have played against just three teams with winning records–the Dolphins, Texans, and Seahawks. Here is their opponent’s tale of the tape for the nine teams they have faced:
- Opponents Aggregate Record = 52-76 .406
- Playoff teams faced/record = Seahawks, Dolphins/2-1
- Elite quarterbacks faced = Russell Wilson
- The Pats lost to the ‘Hawks at home.
Same tale, same tape for the Steelers:
- Opponents Aggregate Record = 63-64-1 .496
- Playoff teams faced/record = NYG/1-0
- Elite quarterbacks faced = Eli Manning
- Steelers beat Giants at home.
One of the ten commandments of handicapping is hop onto any underdog of 6 or more if they have an elite quarterback. Big Ben certainly fits into that category—but not on the road.
Big Ben is the key to the game. For all his greatness, his HOF stats, his playground mentality, his unique ability to extend plays into something special, Big Ben has never pulled a Rogers or Brady, or Bradshaw, or Montana—lead the team to the signature victory of his career in a championship game.
Here are Big Ben’s playoff stats: http://www.pro-football-reference.com/players/R/RoetBe00.htm#all_passing_playoffs
In his nine playoff year Big Ben has eclipsed a 100.00+ quarterback rating once—to quote Johnny Dangerously—“ONCE!”…90+ three times…
In the eight years in which his playoff rating was under 100.00, Ben’s average was 79.88.
In 2016, that QBR would put Ben a few ticks better than Carson Wentz, Blake Bortles, and Charlie Whitehurst.
Roethlisberger needs this game for his own legacy, to rescue Antonio Brown from Idiotville, and to vindicate his coach for speaking the truth about Belichick.
Yeah, I know, winning is hard to do when your rival has a library of your coach’s signals, when headsets can go out at the most inopportune times. When your opponent’s footballs are softer, easier, to secure, and throw—but no more excuses, Ben.
You’ve got the best wide receiver in football, the best running back, a top five OL, and a much improved and improving defense. If you want all the glory you said you wanted—five rings—then you better get on the train.
We know, cheating or not, soft balls or not, Tom Brady is going to lead three touchdown drives. Add 2-3 Gostowski field goals and that means Big Ben needs to score 30 to advance to the Super Bowl.
You have the tools, Ben. You have the talent—and the Pats don’t react well to getting punched in the face.
You have to prove it to yourself—and Pittsburgh.
The Patriots special teams will score in this game—and the Steelers seldom field outstanding special teams. In fact, one of the most annoying Steelers tendencies often comes after a spectacular touchdown that shifts the emotional tide in their favor—they give up a long KO return or allow a much too easy scoring drive.
The Steelers might answer with a defensive touchdown. Early in the year, they used Lawrence Timmons as an OLB and he was very productive. In the Pats 27-16 victory earlier this year at Heinz Field, Timmons was charged with covering Julian Edelman. He did well—but look for DC, Keith Butler to assign rookie safety Sean Davis or speedy ILB Ryan Shazier that challenging assignment.
This isn’t the defense Brady saw in Week Seven in the middle of a season-threatening four game losing streak. Pittsburgh’s defense is jelling when it counts most.
Bottom Line: I’m sticking with the Golden Rule; taking Big Ben and the Steelers to cover the 6 points but Brady will crush Black & Gold hearts the world over and the Pats will kick a late field goal.
I hope they miss it.
Patriots 26 Steelers 24
Per usual, here are my picks in bold italics:
NFL AFC & NFC C Lines 1/22/2017
|Date & Time||Favorite||Line||Underdog||Total|
|1/22 3:05 ET||At Atlanta LW||-5.5 [U]||Green Bay||61.5|
|1/22 6:40 ET||At New England US||-6 [U]||Pittsburgh||50.5|
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