The Falcons and Patriots Have a Date Set on February 5th (Super Bowl LI)

Let’s face it: we all overrated the Green Bay Packers, especially after they narrowly defeated the Dallas Cowboys after blowing an 18-point lead. We saw Aaron Rodgers do Aaron Rodgers things, and we all ooh’ed and ahh’ed.

Well, I had the Falcons beating the Packers, but not the way they did it. Atlanta slapped Green Bay around so badly that they are forcing ’em to relocate to another city before the Raiders do. In all seriousness, Atlanta jumped out of the gates, Mason Crosby missed a field goal (which prompted one of my friends that’s a Cowboys fan to text me with an expected and very appropriate, “Oh now you fucking miss one, Mason Crosby”) and the Packers made mistakes. That Ripkowski (kickass last name) fullback the Packers had fumbled, and Atlanta hardly let their foot off the gas.

We should have saw this coming. Atlanta is so fast; the Packers were hobbled and hurt coming into the game. Let’s also face the fact that the Packers aren’t very good. Aaron Rodgers is the makeup to the Packers’ acne. I still believe that Matt Ryan is the unequivocal MVP of the NFL this year, given the fact that the Falcons’ 2016 campaign is the 8th ranked offense of all-time, but take Rodgers away from the Packers and they are the Cleveland Browns of the NFC North.

The Patriots dominated the Steelers from start to finish. I’ve said it for years about Mike Tomlin being the most overrated head coach in the league. I’m sure he’s a great person, and well, he’s also a good “rah-rah” coach, but he inherited the Steelers after they were built up by Bill Cowher, and he was lucky to win Super Bowl XLIII against the Cardinals (he better thank Roethlisberger and Santonio Holmes for a lifetime). He rode the coattails of the players Cowher brought in. Also, the fact that he has Roethlisberger — who’s probably the best quarterback in the AFC North outside of a temperamental Joe Flacco — and they’ve lost the division to the Cincinnati Bengals two of the last three years, underperforming with a high powered offense. From the Steel Curtain to the aluminum trash bag.

“So, Troy, you are saying that Tomlin is overrated just because he lost the AFC title game to the best organization in football?”

No, I’m saying he’s overrated because the Steelers have underperformed over the last five years with Tomlin. Besides, Tomlin is on the upper echelons of “coaches that Belichick consistently owns” list. Tomlin is a rah-rah guy, so the media loves him, but hey, just like Terry Bradshaw said, I reckon he’s more of a glorified cheerleader in a coach’s outfit rather than a head coach.

My early predictions for the Super Bowl? The Patriots will stifle the Falcons’ offense. The Falcons will score and get things going, but the Patriots will control the tempo of the game and not make mistakes like the Packers did. A lot of people refuse to believe in momentum in football, but think if the Packers would have hit that field goal to make the game 7-3 in the Falcons game, or if Ripkowski didn’t fumble. Momentum is absolutely real; these pro football players are still human. They have emotions and confidence issues at times. The script can be flipped and the tide can change.

I do hope the Falcons win, however. I heavily followed the Falcons when they drafted Michael Vick out of Virginia Tech in 2001. When they weren’t facing the Rams (or Dolphins), I rooted for them. One of my great friends/de facto brothers is a Falcons fan. Matt Ryan is the real deal; I watched him pick apart a menacing Virginia Tech defense when VT led Ryan’s Boston College Eagles 10-0 with a few minutes left in the game. Ryan tossed two touchdowns in 2 minutes and 11 seconds to stun the Hokies in Blacksburg. He’s the real deal. I can’t repeat that enough.

I’m hoping for a great game. The conference title games were stinkers!

The MVP of the NFL is Obvious, and it’s Not Even Close — Yo, Adrian!

I’m not sure how one could possibly give the Most Valuable Player award to Peyton Manning. His efforts this season have been remarkable, having missed an entire year of football and coming right back, to a completely different team with a coaching staff foreign to him, only to play like he practically never lost a step.

But that doesn’t fit the mold of ‘most valuable player’. More like ‘Comeback Player of the Year’. That’s what Peyton is.

The real most valuable player of the NFL this season comes out of Minnesota. Adrian Peterson. The man tore his ACL last year and he ran around, carrying a football as if he never tore his said ACL in the first place. How? Hard work, determination and perseverance, I would surmise. He was only 8-9 yards away from shattering Eric Dickerson’s single season rushing yards record, and guess what, folks? He’s the reason why the Minnesota Vikings are in the playoffs.

Without Peyton Manning, the Broncos likely would have gone 6-10, maybe 7-9. Hell, perhaps even 8-8. Without Adrian Peterson, the Vikings would have likely gone 2-14 or 3-13.

“That’s a pointless hypothetical, Troy! You are an idiot! Shut up! Get outta here with that crap!!!! How do you know how they would have done?!!!!!??” How do you know that your area of the country is going to receive rain tomorrow? Forecasts and predictions. This is a ‘hindsight hero’ gesture above. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out the Vikings’ success this season. And if we are being absolutely frank, the Broncos only defeated three teams that were over .500 during their win streak. All in all, I reckon Denver’s a squad full of frauds until we see that same team go toe-to-toe with the class of the AFC a la New England Patriots.

NOTE: Christian Ponder is as consistent as the fragrance “The Dreamer” by Versace. In other words, not consistent at all. Scatterbrained. All over the place, going in more directions than one’s mind can conceive. For every good game, Ponder knows how to deliver a stinker.

“But Troy, you are disrespectful to C-Pond and the rest of the Vikings team to only acknowledge A.P. as the sole reason for their playoff appearance!” Ah, no, not really. The offensive line did a pretty OK job at blocking for Adrian.

The Vikings? Yeah, they’ll probably lose to the Green Bay Packers in Lambeau tonight. They beat them last week, but the playoffs are a whole other atmosphere. When you have 11 football players and an entire coaching staff gameplanning to tackle you in the backfield or for short yardage as the aforementioned gameplan is taking precedence over whatever the hell your quarterback is doing in a league, today, that’s most definitely and unequivocally a passing league, you know — hearts to hearts — that you are dominant and the best at what you do.

The Falcons are Quietly Undefeated and Tom Brady Isn’t Clutch!

Nobody’s talking about the Atlanta Falcons except fans. And maybe a few outliers.

The Falcons are 6-0. Four of those wins have come against the AFC West. The two others against Carolina and Washington.

The critics are saying, “Boo! Bah! Humbug! The Falcons have barely won a few of those games, and they were against rather weak opponents!” What’s the difference between a close win and a blowout win? They are both wins. What, statements? Win the game. That’s all that matter. Close or by 17+. “But they haven’t faced any worthy opponents!” is yet another common phrase. Oh, yeah? Semantics, shablantics — they are undefeated and standing tall. The offense is as crisp, smooth and more well-run than it’s ever been, and their defense is leaps and bounds better than years past.

My biggest concern for the Falcons is the playoffs. If Atlanta find themselves playing Green Bay in the Georgia Dome, goooooood luck! If I remember correctly, the final score of that game from two seasons ago in the divisional playoffs was 48-21 Packers. The Falcons were the number one seed in the NFC that year, and the eventual Super Bowl champions hammered them. While the Falcons’ defensive backs are inordinately better from two years ago, there’s a guy throwing the ball that’s evading them by the name of Aaron Rodgers, a man who thrives playing in domes. I think another Packers/Falcons matchup would be interesting to see — I can imagine the Falcons scoring as much as the Packers, and that could mean a beautiful shootout. Atlanta suffered a big loss during the first game of the season when defensive back Brent Grimes tore his Achilles tendon.

Onto something else: did anybody catch wind of the whole “Tom Brady isn’t clutch!” shtick from SportsCenter’s “Numbers Never Lie” segment presented by Michael Smith last week? I just want to address that really quick, because anybody with a set of eyes and a modicum of common sense understands that Tom Brady — TOM BRADY — is one baaad dude. He’s always been clutch. Ever since the infamous game against the Oakland Raiders nearly 11 years ago… ever since he helped set up Adam Vinatieri in Super Bowl XXXVI. I know firsthand about Mr. Brady.

But this “Numbers Never Lie” BS, concocted by a horde of scrawny, dorky, noodle-armed geeks are coming up with vague numbers that say Tommy B. is no longer clutch in big game moments. Yes, the numbers are vague, because there are always two sides to every story, and I’m going to stop this moronic propagation that Brady isn’t clutch as fast as I possibly can without being too long-winded:

These dorks said that following 2001-2007, Brady hasn’t been as clutch since, that he’s lost it. Did this idiots ever stop to think, numbers aside, that the man’s defense has been progressively worse over the past four seasons (sans 2008/injury) in comparison to the defense the Patriots had during the aforementioned seven seasons? Let’s also remember: in the last two Super Bowls the Patriots have been in, both against the Giants, Tom Brady left the field late in the fourth quarter with a lead. Hear that? A lead. Let’s say it again so it will resonate: Tom Brady had his team up in the game, ready to win. It was time for the defense to do its job. Brady did his part. What, you want Tom Brady to play defense, too? The numbers say Brady is no longer clutch, but that’s simply not true — his defense simply sucks, and that’s the bottom line.

AJ Hawk and Flipping the Bird

After Green Bay Packers’ linebacker AJ Hawk sacked St. Louis Rams’ quarterback Sam Bradford, he extended his arm and gave the sky a middle finger.

People are raging, calling him a goofball, a classless and insolent jerk, a realistic depiction of today’s American athletes compared to the athletes of old…

All of this crap.

Testosterone is one hell of a funny hormone. Today’s sports games practically have five billion cameras on every athlete on the field or court. Every time an athlete moves, picks his nose, adjusts his crotch, does jumping jacks, laughs at a joke, frowns, grimaces, etc., that athlete will be on camera and somebody, somewhere will have the nerve to sit down and complain about it.

Well, I’m complaining, but not about Hawk and his middle finger — I’m complaining about the massive overreaction on Yahoo! Sports. I don’t expect anything more from that site, considering some of the news that their columnists post,  but it’s time to stop insulting athletes when they are acting in the heat of the battle. It’s called an impulsive reaction. Now, some people can control themselves better than others — that’s a given.

Someone once said that a person’s true character shines when in the heat of a battle, but I think that’s a bit overblown. I think a person’s true character actually shines when money is involved (let’s be honest — money is the best truth serum, and if you take two people and put money between them, only then will you see the two people’s true attitudes and character).

But I digress.

There are simply too many ‘journalists’ writing about nothing! Athletes are testosterone fueled freaks (and I mean that in a good way, for sure)! They will be brash, callous, and yes, even tactless when competing! They don’t need to be diplomatic! I read where the R&B singer Usher ripped his pants on stage. So what?! He’s a singer. He sang his show! All was well! Celebrity weddings! Thousands of dollars spent! Enough to buy two or three houses for a Hollywood wedding that might make four years.

I can’t believe we are so worried about a middle finger.

Ben Roethlisberger: A Case of Overreaction

Before the Super Bowl, Ben Roethlisberger was being made out to be the second coming of the next messiah due to his leadership and toughness as well as the fact that he was 10-2 in the playoffs going into Super Bowl XLV.

Following a 31-25 loss that saw Big Ben toss two interceptions (one which was returned for a touchdown by Nick Collins), Roethlisberger is an afterthought, and according to a lot of Aaron Rodgers worshipers out he’s not even allowed to be spoken about in the same sentence.

The sports world sure is strange, huh? As NFL fans we witnessed a huge amount of MVP overreaction when Michael Vick went off against the paltry Washington Redskins. The overreaction turned into being a big bunch of bullshit.

You can apply the same terminology to the fact that Roethlisberger is being screwed by the blogosphere because of his performance in the Super Bowl!

Here’s an idea, sports fans: have some perspective. Instead of blaming Roethlisberger and the Pittsburgh Steelers for their lackluster performance in Super Bowl XLV, give credit and take your hats off to the Green Bay Packers’ defense and their ability to not only hit Roethlisberger but to screw up his arm and make him throw off unbalanced feet.

It was the Packers’ defense that forced Roethlisberger into playing a bad game, not Roethlisberger himself. Again, have some perspective, people.

Aaron Rodgers is the NFL’s World Heavyweight Champion

Aaron Rodgers accomplished something last night that Brett Favre never has and never will. Rodgers was named the Super Bowl MVP of Super Bowl XLV. In the Super Bowl Favre won (Super Bowl XXXI), Desmond Howard was named the MVP.

While Rodgers were nearly perfect in his first Super Bowl appearance, it was the Packers’ defense that anchored the team to victory. This morning on my favorite radio show ‘The Herd’, Colin Cowherd stated that he believes that defense no longer wins titles, that quarterbacks do, because the league is now purely a passing league. While Colin does have a basis to work on with what he said, you can’t tell me that the Packers’ defense didn’t win the team the Super Bowl. They forced Ben Roethlisberger into throwing two interceptions, and on the most crucial drive of the game — the Steelers’ last stand — he was being rushed to throw and he couldn’t get his feet set for a solid pass. The Steelers finished the game with three turnovers. So, Colin, you don’t think a defense won the championship last night?

Let’s get back to Rodgers. He played an off-the-charts Super Bowl. We all knew the Steelers’ defensive backs would be reeling, especially because Rodgers is so in sync with a receiving corps that is possibly the best in the league. Greg Jennings and Jordy Nelson caught a combined three touchdown catches. Hell, Jordy Nelson caught nine passes, and he should have caught more if it weren’t for a myriad of dropped balls by he and one by James Jones (which realllllllly stood out).

Rodgers’ aim wasn’t to erase Brett Favre from the minds of Green Bay fans. His aim was the same as the rest of the team’s: to win the championship. He and his teammates accomplished that goal last night. Don’t let me forget to also give credit to the job Green Bay’s offensive line did. Those five guys were awesome last night.

Good teams (and great teams) finish. The Packers’ defense started well and finished well. Pittsburgh began to pick up the pace in the middle of the game, but the deficit was in place and at times they were stagnant and confused. Because of the pressure the Packers brought, Roethlisberger began to experience a few bumps. He limped and had trouble accurately delivering passes. I was surprised how much of a non-factor Heath Miller was!

Rodgers, along with winning the Super Bowl MVP, won the World Heavyweight Championship last night. It was the NFL’s Wrestlemania and he took down the mean Pittsburgh Steelers [whom I’d like to reference to as the NFL’s “Triple H”, the cerebral assassin(s)].

Congratulations Packers and Packers fans. What a victory!

Talkin’ Brett Favre and Torry Holt

So, let’s talk about Brett Favre.

Favre has recently been wanting to be reinstated to the NFL to play with the Packers, only if he can be the starting quarterback, but they will only welcome him back to the organization if he’ll be a back-up to his successor, Aaron Rodgers. As a result, Favre has been whining and complaining and whining and camplaining and whining and complaining and whining and complaining.

So, let’s talk about Brett Favre? Let’s not. If you want to hear my opinion on Favre, then brace yourself — it’s an ugly one. Every summer we have to hear these bogus stories about players getting in trouble or doing something moronic. In 2005 it was Terrell Owens. 2006 it was — I think? — Pacman Jones and Tank Johnson. 2007 it was Michael Vick’s dogfighting case. 2008 is Brett Favre. There’s thousands of people out there posting opinions on this. If you want to read them, go search ’em up.

What I really wanted to talk about is a subject that only Rams fans can truly delve into. A write-up on Torry Holt and how he will fare this season. In February ’07, Holt had knee surgery. Now, non-Rams fans will tell you that he’s washed up and isn’t the same player. However, he IS the same player.

Holt had the surgery following the 2006 season (93 catches, 1,188 yards, 12.8 YPC, 10 touchdowns). In 2007, he virtually matched those stats (93 catches, 1,189 yards, 12.8 YPC, 7 touchdowns). Sure, he only had seven touchdowns, but you can’t fault him there. If you were even the least bit cognitive during the 2007 NFL season, you would know that the St. Louis Rams were a mecca for injured players, especially the offensive line. The o-line played musical chairs, Marc Bulger got banged up, Steven Jackson was banged up because defensive lineman and linebackers were getting clear, easy shots at him due to the lack of o-line protection, and Gus Frerotte and Brock Berlin platooned each other in different weeks to see who would be the starting QB, even after Ferotte was injured!

Holt’s clearly unhappy with the Rams’ front office. Or, well, it seems like it (I can’t blame him one bit). His brother Terrence signed with the Carolina Panthers (Torry and Terrence grew up in North Carolina) earlier in the off-season, and Torry, while playing at a golf event, was asked if he’d ever leave the Rams. He didn’t say he would, but he did mention that he would enjoy playing in his home state with his brother on the Panthers, but left his comments with a simple, “We’ll see what happens in two years” (when his contract runs up).

The IF factor is again the Rams’ fate predictor for the 2008 season. IF the Rams o-line can stay reasonable healthy, Marc Bulger will be able to EASILY deliver the ball to Holt and other receivers (Drew Bennett, Donnie Avery, Keenan Burton, Reche Caldwell, Dante Hall, and, if needed, Dane Looker) with precision. However, the ability for the o-line to allow Bulger time in the back field to scan the receivers is insufficient, thus rendering Holt’s receiving services useless.

In case you never figured it out: the three teams I root for in the NFL are the St. Louis Rams (obviously), Miami Dolphins and Atlanta Falcons. No, it has nothing to do with any kind of that bandwagon crap (the three teams finished with the worst records in the league last season!) or the ‘better chance of having a team win the Super Bowl’ BS theory. As explained a LONG time ago (I’m sure I have, but to the new readers out there, I’ll explain again), I’ve always been a Rams fan, my father was a Phins fan (made for some great football arguments that were incredibly comical), and my father and I — both Virginia Tech Hokies fans — were Michael Vick fans; so, when Vick joined the Falcons, we took a big interest in the Falcons. He passed away in December 2003 (as I’ve mentioned many times on here), so he didn’t witness the Vick debacle. Anyhow, I still follow the Falcons and keep up with them, which I will continue doing.

For my NFL viewing, mediocrity rules, and I don’t seem to mind it.