Packers, Steelers picked to advance

By Steve Sell
January 19, 2017

It’s often said the NFL is a quarterback-driven league.

Maybe that’s why the Final Four this weekend features teams that bank heavily on the talents of their All-Star signal callers.

The four teams feature maybe the four best in the profession. In Game 1 on Sunday, it’s Green Bay’s Aaron Rodgers squaring off against Atlanta’s Matt Ryan. Game 2 features New England’s peerless Tom Brady against Pittsburgh’s Big Ben Roethlisberger.

I don’t think I can recall an NFL Final Four with such marquee quarterback star power.

I’ve often said the Super Bowl doesn’t match the teams with the best records, but the teams playing the best football.

Rodgers right now is the best in the game. What he’s done is put the Packers on his back and driven them to a pair of playoff wins. He lost top receiver Jordy Nelson, yet dissected the Dallas Cowboys’ secondary and made a remarkable throw on the game-winning drive that was a beauty to behold.

Ryan is the up-and-comer of the four even though he’s been around a while. The big advantage for Atlanta is its team is built for the fast carpet of the Georgia Dome. It seems like the Falcons play in a different gear than their opponents.

But what Green Bay has done the last 2 months of the schedule is too much to ignore.

• Pick — Green Bay 38, Atlanta 31.

Meanwhile both Pittsburgh and New England have been on serious rolls. The Steelers are playing with an edge, as they borderline the old NBA Detroit Pistons and their “bad boy” image. Granted, they didn’t score a touchdown against the Chiefs last week, winning on six field goals. But Roethlisberger won’t be in his first rodeo.

Then you have Brady, the NFL’s Golden Boy who laughs at the thought of losing to Father Time. He’s 39, but playing like 29. He’s also the most cerebral quarterback in the game.

They say it’s blasphemy to pick against Brady in a must-win game. But that’s what I’m going to do as La’Veon Bell and Antonio Brown are going to be too much.

• Pick — Pittsburgh 27, New England 24.