NFL Conference Championship 2017

The NFL conference championships are on our doorstep. The New England Patriots look to defend Foxborough against Ben Roethlisberger’s Steelers and advance to the Super Bowl for the 7th time. The Atlanta Falcons hope to secure their first Super Bowl appearance in the franchise however, Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay packers seek to silence the Georgia Dome. Here is an analysis on the upcoming games.

AFC Championship: Pittsburgh Steelers vs. New England Patriots

In the history of the NFL only two players have appeared in six Super Bowl games. Patriots quarterback Tom Brady and nose tackle for the Buffalo Bills and Denver Broncos Mike Lodish.

Brady hopes to soar above the shared podium and elevate to a level all on his own. If he defeats Big Ben, Brady will be the first player in history with seven Super Bowl appearances and will have a chance to become the first quarterback with five Super Bowl rings.

Surely the Steelers have other ideas to spoil this party.

Pittsburgh enter Gillette Stadium defeating the Kansas City Chiefs 18-16. Kicker Chris Boswell completed six field goals re-writing the NFL postseason record books. The Steelers did not convert on any red zone opportunity. LeVeon Bell ran for 170 yards in the game on 30 carries.

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The Steelers rank 1st overall in this department. If they are to defeat the Patriots, Roethlisberger must improve in this year and convert touchdowns. Otherwise, Boswell might have to ice his leg and prepare to punch in multiple field goals. The steel curtain also ranks 1st overall in yards allowed per game. The defensive unit led by James Harrison are a force to be reckoned with. If Pittsburgh can convert some touchdowns accompanied by a strong performance defensively, Tom Brady’s dream of a seventh Super Bowl may be cut short.

For the blue and white, Tom Brady failed to run his offence optimally as he normally instructs his team. He threw for 287 yards with 2 touchdowns, 2 interceptions and was sacked twice. Julian Edelman had eight receptions for 137 yards. If Tom Brady can avoid interceptions and utilize his receiving unit effectively again, accompanied by a strong running game from Dion Lewis the Patriots can emerge victorious.

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Matt Patricia’s defence last week recorded three interceptions. Their stellar play will surely be needed against Pittsburgh. They rank seventh overall in rush defence, 2nd in pass and 2nd overall in total yards allowed. Rob Ninkovich and Devin McCourty heavily impact this defence and will be at the forefront of the defence’s consistency.

Prediction: Patriots win 28-17.

 

NFC Championship: Green Bay Packers vs. Atlanta Falcons.

Marquee Men Aaron Rodgers and Matt Ryan battle head to head in what is likely to be a shootout for the NFC Championship.

For the Packers, they face major predicaments in the receiving core. Jordy Nelson is currently dealing with fractured ribs and an illness, Devante Adams in healing from an ankle injury and Geronimo Allison is recovering from a hamstring problem. According to NFL.com, coach Mike McCarthy expects Allison and Adams to play.

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If the Packers welcome back these receivers, they also have Jared Cook and Randall Cobb in their arsenal of weapons. In order for Green Bay to win, all these receivers must come ready to catch the ball and extend the play for Aaron Rodgers. Mike Montgomery has been a great asset on the ground, and must also make an impact to open up the play-action passing game. In their 8 game winning streak, Green Bay have scored over 30 points per game.

For the men in gold and yellow, their key to victory is containing Matt Ryan’s high octane offence. Julio Jones, Mohammed Sanu and Taylor Gabriel are all having exceptional years. The Falcons also possess two running backs that can catch and run the football. Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman ran for over 100 yards combined in the victory against the Seahawks. Ryan threw for 338 yards and three touchdowns.

For the Falcons, this is their first NFC Championship appearance since the 2012-2013 season. Matt Ryan lost the game at home to San Francisco 28-24.

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This time around the Falcons are a much better team, competing in solidarity both on offence and defence. Ryan is completing around 70% of his passes and Julio Jones has solidified himself as one of the top receivers in the NFL. Atlanta rank 2nd in offence with 415.8 yards on the season and rank 2nd in the postseason with 422; just behind the Packers.

Both quarterbacks look to redeem themselves. In 2014 the Packers lost to the Seahawks at Century Link Field in overtime. A dreadful day in Packers history, intercepting Wilson four times and failing to secure the victory.

This game will be a shootout in the Georgia Dome. The defence that can contain the opposing team’s offence will be the team to enter the Super Bowl.

Prediction: Packers win 35-30.

 

 

 

References

 

NFC Championship Game. (n.d.). Retrieved January 21, 2017, from

 

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/NFC_Championship_Game

 

 

 

 

 

Packers receiver trio could be game-time decisions. (n.d.). Retrieved January 21, 2017, from

 

http://www.nfl.com/news/story/0ap3000000776875/article/packers-receiver-trio-couldbe- 

gametime-decisions

 

Statistics. (n.d.). Retrieved January 21, 2017, from

 

http://www.nfl.com/stats/team?seasonId=2016&seasonType=&Submit=Go

 

Atlanta Falcons Stats at NFL.com. (n.d.). Retrieved January 21, 2017, from

 

http://www.nfl.com/teams/statistics?team=ATL

 

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