There’s nothing worse than the two-week gap between the AFC and NFC championship games and the Super Bowl.
Sure, there’s that game of tag football that’s played during the off week under the guise of the Pro Bowl, an event players don’t want to be at and do everything they can not to pull a hammy or sprain an ankle.
I just wish the NFL would do away with the sham game and go right into the Super Bowl, without the week of hype. Everybody knows the Super Bowl is going to be the most-watched sporting event of the year, so why put everybody through the slew of analysis that is tedious and boring? I can barely stand to watch ESPN and its talking heads because it’s the same drivel day after day.
The game is finally on Sunday and it’s refreshing to see a team like the Atlanta Falcons (OK, raise your hand if you had the Falcons in the Super Bowl at the start of season). Atlanta was the No. 2 seed going into the NFC playoffs, but I don’t think many gave it a chance because it’s a dome team and Matt Ryan, while a very good quarterback, didn’t have much of a playoff pedigree.
The trendy pick, of course, was Dallas because the Cowboys were relevant again and were such a good story because rookies Dak Prescott and Ezekiel Elliott were leading the way behind the NFL’s best offensive line. The NFL brass is always happier when Dallas is good, because that translates into ratings which translates into “cha-ching.”
Then there was Green Bay and quarterback Aaron Rodgers, which had been white-hot over the last two months after enduring a stretch where its defense was swiss cheese. Green Bay, like Dallas, is also on the short list of NFL royalty.
But the Falcons upset the apple cart, though since the game is being played indoors I like their chances much better than if the game was outdoors and on grass.
Then you have New England, which is like a pair of old slippers when it comes to the Big Game. The Patriots have been in the game so often it’s almost an upset when they don’t make it. They are the NFL’s shady characters, always doing something that rankles Roger Goodell, who is going to be rooting with all his mite for the Falcons because he doesn’t want to give the trophy to his dreaded arch-rivals, the triumvirate of Tom Brady, Bill Belichick and owner Robert Kraft, Goodell’s “three faces of evil.”
As Super Bowls go, it has a chance to be competitive and I don’t really have an allegiance to either team. I’ll be shocked if there’s not a lot of points scored and really for the good of the game, I’d like to see Atlanta win since it’s never been the champion before.
As I always say, the Super Bowl matches the teams playing the best football right now, not necessarily the two best teams overall. I still don’t think Atlanta is as good as Dallas, but its offense turned on the afterburners in the postseason.
As strong as Atlanta has played, how can you go against tradition? The NFL also will be surely ramping up security and keeping a close eye on the Patriots so they don’t do anything sneaky.
My pick — New England 34, Atlanta 27.