It’s Not Officially Football Season Until Tom Brady Puts Out An A+ Social Media Post #NFLKickoff2017
Leave it Tom Brady to get me pumped the fuck up for the NFL season. I guess it’s not enough that the Patriots are favored to win every game this year. They also need to have their most likely GOAT QB put together a goose bump inducing video package to get everyone jacked up. I’m not even a Patriots fan and I want to run through a goddamn wall right now. If you need me, I’ll be watching Brian Hoyer and Pierre Garcon highlights while I wait for the 49ers game on Sunday. I’m so sad.
Tom Brady turns 40 today (and shares a birthday with my mother, the REAL G.O.AT.) and the Patriots celebrated the man who is almost always referred to as the G.O.A.T with some actual goats at practice today. After last year’s come from behind Super Bowl victory, it’s getting tougher and tougher to argue that Brady isn’t the G.O.A.T., and it’s getting to the point where if you rank him anywhere outside of the top 1 or 2 your opinion shouldn’t be trusted. Happy birthday to Tom Terrific, and if you’re looking for a great article to read about him on his birthday, check out this fantastic ESPN piece.
There are three things the Average Nobodies don’t partake in: drinking low fat milk, wearing the same two socks and using roman numerals. That’s why this is a Super Bowl 51 prediction blog, not a Super Bowl random capital letters blog. Anyway, we’re finally here. The wild card, divisional and championship rounds of the playoffs are complete and we’re down to the last two surviving teams. Will Tom Brady win his record breaking 5th Super Bowl or will Matt Ryan win his 1st? No matter the outcome, this game should be fantastic. Both teams are playing great football, as the Pats just ended Pittsburgh’s 9 game win streak to advance and the Falcons ended Green Bay’s 8 gamer. Here’s how I picture fans of both teams dealing with lead changes throughout the game:
The story of this game in most preview posts is about the Falcons top ranked offense versus the Patriots top ranked defense, but the beauty of both these teams is how balanced they are on both sides of the ball. The Falcons defense has been ferocious in the playoffs, blitzing teams constantly and refusing to let opposing offenses get into a rhythm. While the Seahawks offensive line has been in shambles all season, the Atlanta defense was especially impressive last week versus the Packers. Rodgers and Green Bay dominated opposing defenses over the last half of the season and into the playoffs, but thanks to constant pressure from the Falcons, they were never able to get going and faced a 24-0 deficit at halftime. The Falcons did this against an offensive line that was giving Rodgers all day to either scramble or find open receivers during their 8 game win streak , and they’ll need to be even better against Tom Brady.
While the Pats defense was ranked #1 this year in points allowed, their offense hasn’t been too shabby either, and most of that credit has to go to the ageless Tom Brady. The only way the Falcons are going to win is if they mimic and execute the game plans of the Giants and Broncos from playoff game’s past. In the 2008 Super Bowl, the Giants sacked Brady eight times and pressured him pretty much all game. In the 2012 Super Bowl, the Giants only sacked Brady twice, but they again pressured him all day, even forcing a 1st quarter intentional grounding penalty that lead to the first nine points of the game for New York. The Broncos did more of the same in the 2016 AFC Championship game, sacking Brady four times, picking him off twice and allowing him to complete only 48% of his passes. While the stats paint a picture of those three games, watching them live tell the whole story. Brady was unable to hit his running backs or receivers because of constant pressure, and even if he wasn’t sacked or picked off, he was getting knocked down or rushed.
The key for the Falcons will be blitzing and getting to Brady frequently, but that’s easier said than done. A lot of that has to do with this stat I found in Bill Barnwell’s Super Bowl preview: “when defenses blitzed him this year, Brady went 61-of-99 for 838 yards with 11 touchdowns and zero interceptions, taking just two sacks in the process”. That has to be a depressing stat if you’re a Falcons fan, because it basically tells you there’s no stopping Tom Brady. You can’t sit back and coverage without pressure, because he’ll pick you apart. You also can’t blitz him every down, because he’s been almost perfect against those packages this year. Assuming the Falcons blitz consistently, Brady won’t have a lot of time to find receivers down the field. If that’s the case, the key for Brady is going to be Dion Lewis and James White out of backfield, as well as pounding the ball inside with Blount. LeGarrette will be especially important because of the presence of NFL sack leader Vic Beasley, who will be looking to pressure Tom Brady on passing downs. Another stat to pay attention to from Barnwell’s article: “When opposing teams have three or more wideouts on the field, Beasley has played 74.6 percent of snaps. When they have two wideouts or fewer, Beasley’s playing time dips to just 19.7 percent of snaps”. If the Pats can keep Beasley off the field AND have success with Blount, this game will be over by halftime.
Working in the Falcons favor is their supremely talented offense, but they’ll be going against a Bill Belichick defense that has had two weeks to prepare. That sounds like a cliché, but the guy has already won 6 Super Bowls as a defensive coordinator or head coach, so it’s safe to say he knows a little bit about preparing for an offense. Belichick specializes in taking away the best player or part of an opposing teams offense, and that will start and end with Julio Jones. Julio has had a quiet postseason so far, combining for only 15 catches, 247 yards and three touchdowns. While New England neutralized Antonio Brown last week, with all respect to AB, Jones is a different kind of monster and has a better quarterback. AB is listed at 5’10 180 while Jones is listed at 6’4 220, and Julio is able to be a dual threat at all times. He’s bigger and stronger than most corners, which is invaluable around the goal line, but he’s also a menace after the catch which he showed on last week’s 73 yard touchdown vs. Green Bay. Much like neutralizing Brady, shutting down Jones is easier said than done. Similar to Lewis and White for the Pats, Atlanta has a 1-2 punch of their own in Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman. Both are great pass catchers and excel at YAC, so if New England starts to get pressure on Matt Ryan, expect a lot of screens and dump offs.
The only thing left to do is play the game. Pats are favored by 3 points with an over/under sitting at 58. I’m going with Tom Brady to win his fifth ring, and I think it’s time we have a serious discussion about renaming the Lombardi Trophy the Belichick Trophy.
Pick: Patriots 41 Falcons 28
And then there were four. The first two weeks of the playoff’s are behind us, and four teams survived to make it to Championship Sunday. Green Bay invades Atlanta while Pittsburgh tries to do the almost impossible and beat Tom Brady in January in New England. Here are our predictions.
Green Bay @ Atlanta (-5)
Both home teams are decent favorites this weekend, but the NFC title game is the only one I can see being an upset. Here’s how I picture Vegas sports books who are rooting for the under watching this game:
The over/under on this game is a whopping 60.5, but I’d be shocked if we saw anything less than 70 overall points scored. In Green Bay’s case, last week’s game showed us two things: Aaron Rodgers may be some type of human/sorcerer hybrid and Green Bay’s defense can’t hold a lead. Luckily for Green Bay, Aaron Rodgers will still be there QB Sunday. Unfortunately, they’ll also trot out the same defense, except this time they’re facing Matt Ryan and the Falcons. Ryan will most likely win the MVP this year, and for good reason. He threw for 38 TDs against only 7 interceptions while completing 70% of his passes. That was good for a 117.1 QB rating, which happened to be the best in the league. Last week against a Seattle defense that was 8th against the pass this year, Ryan threw for 338 yards and 3 touchdowns. Green Bay was 31st against the pass this year, and gave up over 300 yards and 3 touchdowns to Dak Prescott last week. Unless GB can force some turnovers, not even Aaron Rodgers will be able to save them.
Which brings me to Aaron Rodgers. While he finally threw an interception last week (breaking his streak of 22 TDs without a pick) he also did this:
— cнiρ вroωn (@ChipBrown) January 16, 2017
He’s playing out of his mind right now, and he’s the only reason the Falcons aren’t favored by double digits in this game. The bad news for Rodgers and the Packers is that he’ll either be without Jordy Nelson and Davante Adams or they’ll be extremely limited. Coach Mike McCarthy said today that if this were a regular season game both guys wouldn’t be playing, which is never a good sign. Also, Atlanta’s defense looked great last week, picking off Russell Wilson twice. If they’re able to force even one turnover from Rodgers, that could be enough to put away the Packers with the way Matt Ryan and the Falcons offense is playing.
Pick: Falcons 45 Green Bay 34
Pittsburgh @ New England (-6)
Isn’t is funny how teams going up against the Patriots always seem to shoot themselves in the foot before the game even starts? Whether it’s Rex Ryan or Richard Sherman, the way other teams behave when they’re playing the Pats is like clock work. Someone opens their mouth and calls out the Patriots, they play the game and Tom Brady and Bill Belichick move on to the next round or win the Super Bowl. The most recent example we have is thanks to Antonio Brown and Mike Tomlin. Brown decided that going on Facebook live during a postgame victory speech by his coach was a good idea, and caught Tomlin calling the Patriots assholes. In the grand scheme of things that’s pretty minor, but do you really want to give the Patriots more ammo heading into this game? You’re already 6 point underdogs, and earlier in the day you watched Brady and Belichick improve to 119-21 at home in their careers, including 16-2 in the playoffs. Maybe shut your mouth and hope Le’Veon Bell can score you a hundred touchdowns. Anyway, here’s what I think Pittsburgh fans will look like after the game:
There are a lot of stats that prove Brady and Belichick’s dominance, especially at home, but it comes down to one simple point: they just don’t lose. Recently, they haven’t even TRAILED IN A GAME. Check out this stat I found on Twitter:
Stat o’ week @NFLResearch:
Patriots haven’t trailed since 11/27. 6 hrs, 1 min, and 56 secs of game time. Longest @NFL streak in 11 years.
— Andrew Siciliano (@AndrewSiciliano) January 18, 2017
How insane is that? That’s without Gronk, and without their ‘best defensive player’ Jaimie Collins who they traded away midseason. No matter what happens, the Pats always find a way to win. Most of my friends are Patriots fans, and playing Pittsburgh was their worst case scenario, but that’s only because the other options in the AFC were almost comical. The other four AFC teams that the Pats could’ve played were the Raiders (without Derek Carr), the Dolphins (without Ryan Tannehill), the Chiefs (Andy Reid, play caller. Enough Said) & the Texans. They played the Texans last week and won a very ugly game, but again, they still didn’t trail the entire time. While Pittsburgh might be the toughest matchup for them, they’re only tough compared to the other birthday cake matchups they could’ve had.
As far as Pittsburgh goes, Ben showed last week why his team is so much worse on the road, as he threw for 224 yards, 0 TDs and 1 interception. Pittsburgh won that game thanks to Le’Veon Bell, Chris Boswell and Alex Smith being Alex Smith. While Bell has been unstoppable all year, Belichick specializes in taking away your best weapon, and if I’m aware of Ben’s home/road splits, I’m going to assume Belichick is too. He’ll do his best to focus on Bell and make Ben beat him through the air, something Roethlisberger hasn’t proven he can do on the road against a decent defense. Also, if Pittsburgh is banking on Brady playing anywhere near as bad as Alex Smith did, they should forfeit now.
Pick: Patriots 38 Steelers 26
If someone were to take a bet and try and pick the company who would be able to get Tom Brady to address Deflate Gate publicly, I have to imagine Foot Locker would be very low on the list. They might not have even been on the list, but here they are, getting Brady to address the controversy front and center in a new commercial. I honestly love everything about this. Brady is notoriously secretive, so for him to go out and do this means this entire thing was eating away at him more than we knew. Secondly, good for Tom Brady. The NFL is so up it’s own ass about everything it does that it deserves to get called out from time to time. In the end, deflate gate is going to hurt the NFL a lot more than it’s going to hurt Tom Brady. Anybody with half a brain already knows that Brady is the greatest (or second greatest) QB of all time, and the only people who use deflate gate against him are sore losers or former players who wish they were half as good as he is. The NFL, on the other hand, lost one of it’s great ambassadors for the game, at a time when everything around them is crumbling, including TV ratings. Brady 100 – NFL 0.
I think you and I are destined to do this forever.
Tom Brady and Peyton Manning, both two of the greatest quarterbacks of their generation and of all time, will face each other for the 17th time this Sunday with a trip to Super Bowl 50 on the line. As AFC rivals their entire career, the stakes literally could not be higher. Brady is 11-5 in his career vs. Manning, but in their 4 career playoff meetings, each man has come away with two victories. In those four seasons, either Brady or Manning’s team have gone on to win the Super Bowl three times.
Living in New England, Tom Brady, now in his 16th NFL season, has taken on an almost God-like status. Whether you love him or you hate him, you cannot deny how superior the man is at football. Over a 15 year period, the team that represents the AFC in the Super Bowl has almost exclusively gone through Foxboro. Since the 01-02 season, this will be the 10th time (!) that Tom Brady and the Patriots have played in the AFC Championship game. Of the previous nine, they’ve won six, and gone on to win four of those Super Bowls. Brady has a career record of 22-8 in the playoffs, but is only 3-3 on the road, which goes to show how dominant his Patriots teams have been in the regular season. He’s Batman in football form, dispensing his enemies with relative ease all while keeping up the poster boy charm.
Peyton Manning, now in his 18th NFL season, has been the Joker to Brady’s Batman. Manning holds 15 NFL regular season passing records, including the most yards and touchdowns of all time. Manning’s success in the regular season is only rivaled by Brady’s, and where Brady thrives (playoffs) Manning has faltered. Manning is 12-13 in his career in the playoffs, and the only postseason stat in which he equals Brady is in the amount of Super Bowls he has lost (2). Now for a guy to play in 25 playoff games (and counting), win a Super Bowl and have all those regular accolades is an amazing career. But Peyton Manning was put on this Earth to play football at the same time as Thomas Brady, and they will forever be entwined.
While stats are fun for casual conversations with friends, all that matters to Patriots, Broncos, Brady and Manning fans is the outcome of Sunday’s matchup. From now until Sunday you’ll see a million articles about how the game is so much more than Brady and Manning, but when it comes down to it, it really isn’t. It’s all about Brady and Manning. It’s about two guys who love the game of football and are really, really good at it, and for the 17th time they get to duke it out to see who is the better man. I can confidently say we will never see a quarterback rivalry at this level again, and I’m just glad I got to be a fan during their tenures. As for Sunday’s game? Patriots 23 Broncos 16.
In fact, many former New England coaches and employees insist that the taping of signals wasn’t even the most effective cheating method the Patriots deployed in that era. Several of them acknowledge that during pregame warm-ups, a low-level Patriots employee would sneak into the visiting locker room and steal the play sheet, listing the first 20 or so scripted calls for the opposing team’s offense. (The practice became so notorious that some coaches put out fake play sheets for the Patriots to swipe.) Numerous former employees say the Patriots would have someone rummage through the visiting team hotel for playbooks or scouting reports. – USA Today
I knew that when Judge Berman reversed Tom Brady’s suspension that it wasn’t the end of deflate gate, but I was hoping that we’d at least be able to put that story on the back burner and focus on the upcoming season, which starts in two days. Of course that didn’t happen, and of course there’s a NEW cheating scandal to come out about the Patriots. According to a couple investigative journalists who totally aren’t trying to start a witch hunt, the Patriots used to send employees into hotel and locker rooms to try and steal the other teams playbook. If this story lived on it’s own, there would probably be a lot more people who cared about it, but after everything that’s been written and talked about in regards to spy gate and deflate gate, I’m just indifferent. Who cares at this point? There’s honestly nothing that could come out about the Patriots that would be make me feel happiness or anger. When reporting on the Patriots, ESPN might as well identify themselves as a gossip website, because that’s what it’s becoming. At this point, I wouldn’t be surprised if a story came out about a talented Patriot who ended up being a serial killer. Oh wait…