Well, that was kind of boring.
The NFL’s conference-championship weekend gave us two duds, as Atlanta and New England beat Green Bay and Pittsburgh, respectively, by a combined 42 points. Through 10 postseason games, only two have been decided by single digits.
“It’s terrible,” CBS Sports senior NFL writer Will Brinson said on CBS Sports Radio’s After Hours with Amy Lawrence. “There’s no doubt about it. I don’t think it was a very good postseason. The third-closest game was the Raiders/Texans game.”
The Texans beat the Raiders, 27-14, in a Wild Card matchup between Brock Osweiler and Connor Cook.
“The reality is, it just hasn’t been exciting,” Brinson said. “I think the first week got jammed up because of the injuries to quarterbacks. The real disappointment, though, was the two games we just saw on conference-championship weekend. Atlanta/Green Bay, everybody expected to be a close shootout, and the Falcons just blew the Packers out of the water, and I thought the Steelers might actually pull off the upset. That was obviously stupid, but the Patriots were too much for Pittsburgh to handle. And to have four quarterbacks like we got in Aaron Rodgers, Matt Ryan, Tom Brady and Ben Roethlisberger and not to get a single good game out of it is pretty disappointing.”
Ryan was unstoppable Sunday, finishing 27-of-37 for 392 yards and five touchdowns (four pass, one rush), while Brady went 32-of-42 for 384 yards and three touchdowns.
“I think there was more pressure on Matt Ryan to win, but I think Brady went up against a much more difficult defense,” Brinson said. “(The Falcons) are locked in and they’re moving the ball with ease and Matt Ryan is finding guys, but you see that game against the Packers, and those receivers were wide open the whole day. So there was more pressure on Matt Ryan, but the level of difficulty was significantly higher for Tom Brady.”
This marks the seventh Super Bowl appearance of the Brady/Belichick era, which Brinson believes is the their most impressive accomplishment.
“People point out that Joe Montana never lost a Super Bowl,” Brinson said. “Well, Tom Brady has been to seven. You’re going to ding the guy because he went to more Super Bowls? That makes no sense. To go to seven Super Bowls since 2000 with one quarterback and one head coach in this free-agency era, to me, is just a staggering accomplishment. People don’t want to label is a dynasty, but to me, it’s maybe the greatest dynasty in all of sports when you factor in the parity and difficulty of winning year-to-year. To do what they’ve done is just incredible.”
As for the Super Bowl, we have the No. 1 offense (Atlanta) taking on the No. 1 defense (New England). That matchup has happened six times, with the No. 1 defense going 5-1 in those games. The most recent was Super Bowl XLVIII, when Seattle beat Denver, 43-8.
“I don’t think the matchup is quite like that,” Brinson said. “I don’t think (the Patriots are) a physical defense like that Seattle team. They’re certainly very good, but if you look at the last eight to 10 quarterbacks they’ve played, Ben Roethlisberger is by far and away the best quarterback they’ve played. They’ve gotten fortuitous in their scheduling and it’s helped them a little bit. But one of the things you’re going to have to see from New England is (slowing down the Falcons early).”
The Patriots are known for taking away a team’s No. 1 weapon. Well, even if they take away Julio Jones, they have a lot of other pieces to worry about.
“I think Taylor Gabriel and Mohamed Sanu are going to be much bigger factors and the running backs are much better too when you factor Le’Veon Bell being out,” Brinson said. “So to me, it’s what do they do with those secondary weapons once they try to eliminate Julio Jones, and does it actually work?”