Well, my friends, we've made it. Championship Sunday. Four teams remain, and the paths are clear for all. Win, and you're in the Super Bowl. Lose, and you're going golfing. We had two close games on one day, and two blowouts on the other. And yes, Aaron Rodgers pulled off yet another miracle, blah blah blah. Both games on Sunday are going to be tough for the teams and exciting for the fans. As we countdown to Super Bowl 51, we break down the championship games, and predict the contestants going to Houston.
NFC Championship: #4 Green Bay Packers @ #2 Atlanta Falcons
Two of the best are going at it in the Georgia Dome. Aaron Rodgers vs Matt Ryan. Both teams face tough situations on the offensive side of the ball. The Falcons offense have to deal with Clay Matthews, who hasn't had the best postseason so far on the field. Meanwhile, the Packers have to deal with Brooks Reed and Vic Beasley Jr, who were impressive in shutting down the Seahawks running game of Thomas Rawls. The one thing that will be key is that Matt Ryan will be able to utilize his wide receivers all game long. Julio Jones is their number one receiver, yes, but Sanu and Hooper each have shown great ability in helping Ryan out. Rodgers will still be without Jordy Nelson, and will be coming off another comeback performance against the Cowboys. The Packers lost to Atlanta in week 8, and that would think that the Pack would get revenge. Not exactly, as I think Atlanta's offense is just too hot for this Packers defense to handle. They'll get out to a fast start, and I wouldn't be surprised if Rodgers has problems with the Falcons defense. I don't see Julio Jones getting 300 yards, but he'll have at least 2 touchdowns. The Packers' attempt to run the table is over. Falcons 38, Packers 21
AFC Championship: #3 Pittsburgh Steelers @ #1 New England Patriots
We all know the story of Antonio Brown going on Facebook Live during the post game celebrations after they beat the Chiefs, and many people think that's going to be a factor. Breaking news: it won't be a factor. If you're coming into this game talking storylines and Facebook, then check yourselves at the door. If you're looking for a great football game, then welcome aboard my friends! Because when you look at the two games going on this Sunday, this is the going to be the best one. Triple "B" (Bell, Brown, and Ben Rothlesberger) travels to Foxboro to take on Tom Brady and the Patriots. This game can be an offensive shootout in many ways. For the Patriots to prevent this, they need to shutdown Le'Veon Bell all game long. He can't get more than five yards, or else he will make the Patriots run defense pay dearly for that mistake. For the Steelers, it's simple: take down Brady. He has receivers all over the place, so if you can stop the haircut himself, then the Steelers have a chance. While the Patriots got the #1 seed and all, I think Bell and Brown will be too much for the Foxboro faithful. Welcome back to the Super Bowl, Steelers fans! Steelers 31, Patriots 27
Hey, a 2-2 record isn't a bad way to start the playoffs. I thought that Oakland and New York were going to play better than they did in their respective games. But, the results are in, the Wild Card round is done, and we're moving on to next week. The divisional rounds is where Super Bowl predictions will be made or broken, and the matchups for this round are juicy. Let's see if I can sweep the categories this time!
NFC: #4 Green Bay Packers @ #1 Dallas Cowboys
The Packers got a big break against the Giants at Lambeau, thanks to yet another Hail Mary pass from Aaron Rodgers. Now the cheeseheads go into AT&T Stadium to take on a possible cold Cowboys team, losers of 2 of the last 3 matchups, and a bye week to boot. Yes, Zeke Elliott and Dak Prescott were incredible this season, but they're rookies. I don't consider rookies great unless they can do what they did the following season. The Packers will come into this game possibly without Jordy Nelson, who left the game against New York with a rib injury. Although Rodgers is coming into this game red hot, he's going to face a stingy Cowboys defensive line that will no doubt give him problems. Don't expect this to be a cake walk for Prescott and Elliott, however, as the Packers linebacking corp will be as relentless as can be. But I see the Packers' run coming to an end at Jerry's World, in a fiery shootout. Cowboys 38, Packers 28
NFC: #3 Seattle Seahawks @ #2 Atlanta Falcons
This is a game that I am dying to see. Julio Jones vs Richard Sherman. Matt Ryan vs Russell Wilson. Two teams with everything to lose. The Seahawks come in to this game after decimating the Lions in their Wild Card game, while Atlanta is looking to the NFC Championship for the first time since 2012. The thing to keep in mind is that Seattle's defensive backs haven't gotten an interception since Earl Thomas got hurt. I can't wait to see Sherman take on Julio Jones, who had a career season this year. Falcons fans: if your team is going to win, then they need to rely on a plethora of passing plays against this deflated backfield, and on defense, don't make Rawls look great by making him run for 161 yards and 1 touchdown. For the Seahawks to win this game, however, they have to shut down Julio Jones. Tough task, and I think the week off will benefit the Falcons at home in a ruckus Georgia Dome. Falcons 27, Seahawks 17
AFC: #4 Houston Texans @ #1 New England Patriots
This is a trap game for the Patriots, in my opinion. The Texans defense dominated Oakland, even though it was their third string quarterback. Houston should be able to take that defensive momentum into Foxboro and use it to aggravate Tom Brady and his offensive weapons. Brady has looked great this season, despite serving a 4 game suspension to begin the season. He's had to utilize Marcellus Bennett since Rob Gronkowski was lost to a knee injury, and the addition of Michael Floyd after being released from the Cardinals after a DUI arrest helped Brady out. But the Texans are going to be huge underdogs, and if they want to pull the upset, their defense needs to be on their toes the whole time, and Brock Osweiler MUST be confident and have a perfect game. I will not be surprised if Houston wins, but with all of the weapons the Patriots have on offense and defense, I don't see it happening. Patriots 45, Texans 20
AFC: #3 Pittsburgh Steelers @ #2 Kansas City Chiefs
In this game, you need to keep an eye on four players, two from Pittsburgh and two from Kansas City. From the Steelers, you need to see Le'Veon Bell, who ran for 167 yards and 2 touchdowns; and Antonio Brown, who caught 5 balls for 124 yards and two touchdowns against the Dolphins at Heinz Field. For the Chiefs, it's Alex Smith, who's passed for 3,502 yards, 15 touchdowns, and 8 interceptions this season; and Tyreek Hill, who is a special teams race car. This game is a toss up, but the thing that concerns me is Ben Rothlisberger's foot injury. I don't think it's going to be an issue, but if the Chiefs defense can exploit that, then the Steeler's offense might be in trouble. The Chiefs are a team that everyone expects to make a run for the title, and even though they have the #2 seed, that's only because Oakland fell off once Derek Carr got hurt. I haven't been impressed with the Chiefs this season, but if they win, I'll think they're legit. Sadly, Chiefs nation, the Terrible Towel will be waving en mass! Steelers 38, Chiefs 21
The college football playoffs national championship game is upon us. Alabama vs Clemson, part 2 in Tampa, Florida. The Crimson Tide looking to win their second straight national title, and fifth title eight years. Clemson looks to win their first title since 1981 and defeat Alabama for the first time since 1905! While the game itself will be intriguing, and I intend on watching it (the game itself, not all of the megacast's crap that ESPN is going to have on during the game), I write this article as a concerned fan.
Since 2009, in the world of college football, there has been one thing that's consistent with either the national championship, playoff games, or conference championships. That is Alabama. Since they won the 2009 national title, Nick Saban and the Crimson Tide have been title contenders ever since, and always the choice for the SEC title. This season has been no exception, with the tide going 13-0 and beating Washington in the Peach Bowl.
Look, everyone loves a dynasty story, no matter what sport you follow. You got the Patriots in the NFL, the Spurs in the NBA, and recently the Chicago Blackhawks in the NHL. A dynasty can be a wonderful thing in sports, because the more they win championships, then the competition's goal is to beat the champs. I can say that Alabama is a dynasty in college football, and we can all agree that they are. But in college football, this dynasty isn't helping the sport at all.
The Alabama Crimson Tide are killing college football.
When the Miami Heat had the super team and went to the NBA Finals from 2012-2015, I argued that they were killing basketball because you knew who was going to win all the time, and there was no competition during that timeframe. Well, now college football is becoming the same way with Alabama. Everyone talks about Saban and Alabama winning another possible title, always a contender, and being just so damn good. I can assure you if you were to go to the Westgate Sports Book in Las Vegas, and you were to put money on Alabama to win it all, I'm sure the bookie's response will be, "We got another one." It's kind of pathetic
The reasons that 'Bama has a good team is that they recruit the best players down south, which is a hotbed of athletes period. They don't have to compete with other schools for the best prospects, because every player wants to win a national title, and if they're good enough to go to Alabama, then they go and essentially win titles and awards. The remaining SEC teams has taken a step back, and without Alabama, they wouldn't have been represented in the playoffs. When you had once powerhouses like Florida, Ole Miss, and Georgia, you now have Texas A&M.......and that's pretty much it. The SEC has gotten to the point of being compared to the Big 12, and that speaks volumes.
I can only imagine what the culture in Tuscaloosa is like. You could compare it to the career of one Ronda Rousey. You know, the former UFC Women's Bantamweight champion. When she lost her title, and the subsequent comeback loss to Amanda Nunes in UFC 207's main event, she went from being the best to essentially going away. If Alabama, god forbid, were to suffer a similar fate and not win a title in, let's say, five years, and throw in a losing season or two just to spice things up, then we can see Alabama go away, and college football can finally heal. The culture of winning can be healthy, but too many titles later, the fan's egos go way over their heads, and they get arrogant. Alabama fans aren't at that point, because they can back up their boasts with facts. But once they start saying "we're the best team ever", then they've reached the point.
Everyone wants to be that team that saves college football and beat Alabama. But until that happens, college football fans are going to get to the point where the sport itself will suffer the same fate as the NFL: low tv ratings, lower attendance than usual, and people actually DOING things on Saturday nights instead of watching the primetime games, because ALL of the games will be meaningless if Alabama is going to win another title. Can teams beat Alabama in recruiting and games itself? Sure. Doesn't mean anything until they don't win a title.
We all hope for our favorite teams to win the big one. Whether their Michigan, Ohio State, Clemson, Florida, Washington, UCLA, Oklahoma, Texas, Rutgers (poor souls), Missouri, or Penn State, we all want the chance to raise a banner and call ourselves national champions. Got a nice ring to it, huh? Well, sorry to say this, but Alabama isn't going to die anytime soon. Until this happens, you can say that the state of college football is not good. In reality, it's on life support, and may never recover until the Tide lose.