The teams are set for Super Bowl Jet Li here in Houston two weeks from yesterday. The good news is NRG Stadium is going to see something it rarely has in recent years: Damned good football.
Patriots vs. Falcons has all the earmarks of an outstanding matchup. The dynasty vs. the up and comers. MVP Matt Ryan vs. the incomparable Tom Brady.
The Patriots opened at -3, and the over/under is the highest in Super Bowl history at 59.
It’s no surprise to see such a high total. The Falcons have been money on overs (including yesterday’s playoff record of 61).
The Falcons-Packers game had all the earmarks of a tennis match going in. Both teams could score, so whoever made mistakes on offense and failed to hold serve was going to lose.
That team was the Packers. The final score was 44-21, but the Packers lost this game in the first quarter. They missed a field goal and had a critical fumble in the red zone that left them down 10-0 in a game that should have been 10-10. The Falcons are terrific front-runners, and those miscues allowed them to build an insurmountable lead. Throw in several dropped passes from the Packers and they never had a chance against a Falcons team that did not make mistakes. When the Falcons did fumble the ball, they managed to pounce on it themselves. Matt Ryan, who will win MVP this year, was sensational, hitting 27 of 38 for 392 yards, four TDs (ran for a fifth), no picks, a total QBR of 98.4 and a traditional rating of 139.4. You simply can not play the position much better. Julio Jones might not just be the best wideout in football, he might be the best player, period. He was terrific, with 9 catches — many of them highlight reel stuff — for 180 yards and two touchdowns.
If the Falcons play like that in Houston, they should be lifting the trophy. But it won’t be that easy, because the Patriots are a different animal. They dismantled a damned good Steelers team 36-17.
The Steelers actually played pretty well on offense, especially early in the game. At one point Big Ben was 15 of 19, throwing darts, and the Steelers were still down 17-6 because Tom Brady is just that good. Raise your hand if you are one of the idiots saying “Brady’s done because his last two playoff games were bad.” Now slap yourself with the other hand and give yourself a shame bell. Lock yourself in a closet and never come out.
As great as Ryan was against the Packers, Brady was in the same stratosphere. He completed 32 of 42 for 384 yards, three TDs, a 90.4 TQBR and a traditional QBR of 127.5. And of course, no picks.
Super Bowl 51 (I refuse to use Li without calling it Jet Li) is going to be a shootout. It is a great matchup for the the city of Houston to host at NRG.
The stadium itself might be shocked to see such good football for a change.
Speaking of good football: Expect the Indianapolis Colts to get better. They finally fired ineffective GM Ryan Grigson over the weekend. It is an overdue move that should make the team better. Another AFC South foe makes a good off-season move.
Split decision: The Rockets went into a tough two-game stretch with the Warriors and Grizzlies. We had said a split would be a good result. And that’s what they got. After a soft effort against the Warriors, they came back with a dominant win over a damned good Grizzlies team Saturday night.
And these people are coming to Houston…A chowd pulled a fire alarm in the Steelers hotel at 3 a.m. I’m guessing all it did was scare some of the pay-per-views out of the Steelers rooms.
And finally...Is Great Britain becoming the new Florida? Once again they wind up in the weirdo poll position. And up your game, thief. I always think of British criminals as mastermind type thieves. This guy is far from that.
QUOTE OF THE DAY
“Success isn’t always about greatness. It’s about consistency. Consistent hard work leads to success. Greatness will come.”
— Dwayne Johnson
HOTTIE OF THE DAY