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 Failures of the Atlanta Falcons

There’s something about the Atlanta Falcons that can’t be trusted (speaking of Atlanta, another sports team that can’t be trusted: the Atlanta Braves were ousted in the divisional round of the MLB playoffs last night, something that franchise has grown accustomed to). I don’t know what the hell it is, but the “check engine” light for that team seems to always be on.

There’s no doubt about it that Matt Ryan is a bad motherfucker. Straight up. I’ll write it again: Matt Ryan is one bad motherfucker. I’ve known this since his college days at Boston College when, in 2007, he pulled off a miraculous comeback against the Virginia Tech in Blacksburg to beat the Hokies. He’s undoubtedly one hell of a quarterback that’s cold and calculating (for the fans of Ryan’s opposition), but he and the Falcons have faced a wall.

Last year, during the Falcons’ regular season that saw the team finish with a 13-3 record, many internet pundits said, “Yeah, great season, but they’ll choke in the playoffs”. After a first round bye, they hosted the Seattle Seahawks and, after wielding a 20-0 lead, rookie Russell Wilson led the Seahawks back to take the lead before Ryan led the Falcons up the field for a game winning field goal, narrowly avoiding a massive chokejob that would have marred Ryan’s career that much more given how his playoff failures date back to his rookie season and his third pro year). In the NFC title game, the Falcons again jumped out to be a big lead over the San Francisco 49ers (17-0) and ensuingly lost the game 28-24 after the Niners stormed a comeback.

This year, the Falcons waltzed into the season with a “Super Bowl or bust!” mentality, and rightfully so. They lost a barnburner to their divisional rival buddies, the New Orleans Saints, in the opening game (the Saints are currently 5-0) of the season, beat the youngest team in the league — the St. Louis Rams — at home by just 7 points in week two, and ensuingly lost close games to the Miami Dolphins and New England Patriots. Last night, on the biggest [regular season] stage of them all, Monday Night Football, the hosted rookie quarterback Geno Smith and the New York Jets — at home! — and lost 30-28. Smith also threw for three touchdowns and zero picks, and the Falcons pass rush was virtually nonexistent (asides from Osi Umenyiora breaking through a time or two).

What excuses can I make to validate the Falcons’ struggles at a disappointing record of 1-4?

— Steven Jackson’s been out ever since he left the game against his former team, the Rams, and is set to return in two weeks (bye week coming up) against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
— Roddy White’s hobblin’ around, and the bye week will be good for him to heal up.
— Offensive line plights.
— Defensive miscommunication; no pressure on opposing quarterbacks, poor coverage.
— Poor red zone execution.

One could pile a list that’s sky high.

I believe the team will get it together when they heal up. A fresh win against the Buccaneers after their upcoming bye week will ensure a solid rebound. If they lose that game, though, the season’s over and the Falcons are done for.

Eminence Front: The San Francisco 49ers are Going to Super Bowl XLVII

Damn, the FortyWhiners are going to the Super Bowl.

That was the instant and surprisingly relaxed thought that hit me as I watched the Atlanta Falcons choke away a 17-0 lead and subsequently take for granted opportunities (David Akers’ missed field goal and the Michael Crabtree fumble on the one yard line) that were handed down to them. The Falcons had the game in the bag, but they decided to pick it up like a old fashioned board game of Monopoly and throw it away. Matt Ryan and Co. stretched the field and bombs were tossed to Julio Jones, Roddy White and Tony Gonzalez multiple times as the Falcons exposed the FortyWhiners’ defense for what it is. But in the second half, the Falcons conservatively toyed with a stagnant run game and a passing game that didn’t see anything longer than about 8-15 yards. Lo and behold, the FortyWhiners stormed back, took the lead and the rest of the game was history.

I unabashedly hate the San Francisco 49ers. They are a vile, disgusting team and their fans reek of immense suckitude (and bad breath). The organization and the fanbase as a whole can kiss my ass.

I’m biased as hell and I don’t care to admit it. I don’t like the FortyWhiners one bit, and if you haven’t realized that over the past [near] six years of TSTOS’s history, then maybe you should peruse the archives.

Flip on ESPN and see if you can endure 10-15 minutes of SportsCenter without hearing the name “Colin Kaepernick” mentioned as well as lauded as if he’s the greatest thing since  Jon Steven “Steve” Young. It’s embarrassing of ESPN to display such a show of ass-kissery. Is it too much to ask for, to have ESPN showcase a modicum of reality and journalistic integrity? Yes, Colin Kaepernick has done a fine job in the role of quarterback for the San Francisco FortyWhiners, but he isn’t the bread and butter of that team. The defense and his surrounding comrades are the ones who should get the utmost credit. The Green Bay Packers freely handed him the entire field on a silver platter. Kaepernick had his jerky verbally jacked ensuingly by ESPN’s wonderful analysts as if he’d accomplished something breathtaking. Yeah, 188 yards on the ground. Easy to do when the defense is 5 to 10 yards away from you in every spot of the field. Give me a break.

Has Colin Kaepernick been hit that hard yet? I’m waiting. He’s been tackled, for sure, but he hasn’t taken a grow-some-pubic-hair-right-now hits. I’m talking about a hard, violent, quick and visceral hit that sends him to the turf aching in every joint and each figment of his body is silently screaming. No, I don’t reckon that he’s taken such a hit, given the knights in shining armor that block for his lanky ass. Soon, when he inevitably has his world rocked, the faulty facade of which the modern day FortyWhiners have been built from will be unequivocally viewed.

Cue the song “Eminence Front” by The Who.

Behind an eminence front
Eminence front – It’s a put-on.
It’s an eminence front
It’s an eminence front – It’s a put-on
An eminence front
Eminence front – put-on
Eminence front
It’s an eminence front
I’ts an eminence front – It’s a put-on
It’s a put-on
It’s a put-on
It’s a put-on

The San Francisco 49ers’ performance? It’s a put-on.

Interesting note: “Eminence Front” was released in 1982, the same year the 49ers won their first Super Bowl.

The FortyWhiners are on the big boy stage (will be on February 3, rather) for the first time since 1995. It’s been a long year (flew by, actually) since their heartbreaking (I loved it) defeat to the hands of the New York Giants. They returned to the NFC championship and managed to get the job done this time around. Kudos. Now they are putting us all through two weeks of aggravating storylines surrounding the pseudo-brilliance of Colin Kaepernick.

There was another game that was played during the evening in the AFC. Abstract mentioning. Ah, well, the Baltimore Ravens won. The Ravens are THE team that have the great potential to floor Kaepernick and set the tone of the game. I don’t care about this game being labelled the “Harbaugh Bowl” or the “Harbowl”. It’s irrelevant media blotter.

Did you fine folks see the way Matt Ryan was slicing the FortyWhiners’ defense with downfield throws? Well, guess what? Joe Flacco might just be the best deep ball thrower in the league (not a typo or hyperbole). Hi, Torrey Smith.

It’s time to witness the very last game of Ray Lewis’s storied hall of fame career end on a fine note to the tune of spanking the collective ass of the San Francisco 49ers.

The Denver Broncos Lost as a TEAM!

“Peyton Manning is a playoff choker! He sucks! Tim Tebow won a playoff game last year! Peyton couldn’t do that! He blows! Throwing across his body and off the wrong foot against the Baltimore Ravens’ defense?! What in the world?! Peyton sucks!!!!!”

“The Broncos secondary is horrendous! The worst showing by any secondary all season! They are the reason the Broncos lost!!”

Team losses, oh team losses… what ever happened to team losses? The Denver Broncos lost to the Baltimore Ravens by the score of 38-35 because of a breakdown by the entire team. Yes, oh yes, the team. Everybody made mistakes (except for, say, Trindon Holliday).

What I don’t get is, with about 31 seconds left in regulation after the Ravens pulled off a monumental bomb play from Joe Flacco to Jacoby Jones that can also be called a major choke job by the Denver secondary (which happened multiple times, resulting in Flacco looking like an incredible quarterback), Peyton Manning kneeled the ball to allow the game to head to overtime. I’m not sure what John Fox told Peyton, but listen, the Broncos signed Manning for a reason. He’s a living football legend. 31 seconds left, with timeouts, is PLENTY of time to get down the field.

“But Troy! The Broncos had to take their sweet time moving the ball down the field all day! It’s ludicrous to think they could do it in 31 seconds!” Hey. HEY! Hello! They have Peyton effin’ Manning, folks. Yesterday, against the Seattle Seahawks’ defense, Matt Ryan moved the ball 41 yards in 18 seconds. There is absolutely no reason why the Broncos should have taken the knee yesterday, and it came back to bite them in overtime.

Let’s rewind to the instances BEFORE the bomb from Flacco to Jones. When the Broncos had the chance to close out the game, they ran the ball three consecutive times and didn’t even get anywhere near the first down marker. I swore, that on the third down play, Peyton would be passing. Nope. Run, stuffed, punt the ball back. Overtime… Bud Light! Here, we, go!

In overtime, Denver continued their conservative streak, running and running and running. It was physically making me sick to watch. Ronnie Hillman had a couple of damn good runs, but the offense became linear, predictable, banal.

That was a horrible throw in overtime by Peyton. The Broncos’ secondary played like garbage. The receiving corps had a couple of BIG TIME drops. John Fox… oh, John Fox!

Is John Fox even the RIGHT guy for the job? Who knows. He’s never won anything in his life (harsh statement, but trying to add some emphasis here). Obviously, when a team fails to surpass an obstacle or reach an objective, the fist two people that’s blamed is the quarterback or the coach, so I’m going to lay off of Fox for now.

Fox didn’t play in the Denver secondary. There were two guys back to stop Jones, and he was so far behind them one must wonder how these guys are playing for an NFL team’s defense. You can’t coach that in the pros. You just can’t. It is what it is, folks. It was a team loss.

The Trials of Matt Ryan

The Atlanta Falcons made the playoffs for the first time since 2004, in 2008. Matt Ryan and the Dirty Birds traveled to Arizona to face another kind of species, the Cardinals. The game was hyped up by a horde of NFL pundits because of the resurrection of Kurt Warner’s career and the resuscitation of a franchise that had been nonexistent since its St. Louis days during the 1970s. Matt Ryan, a rookie quarterback who had looked like much more of a pro than most rookies you usually observe, had the lowest total of interceptions during the regular season that a rookie has ever had (Ryan only threw 12 picks).

With Arizona leading 14-3 during the second quarter, the Falcons fought back, with Ryan throwing dazzling strikes to receivers Roddy White and Michael Jenkins respectively. Tight End Justin Peelle caught a pass from Ryan during the late first half to put the Falcons up 17-14 at the break.

The third quarter was a disaster. Matt Ryan threw an interception, a fumble that was incurred by a sabotaged handoff from Ryan to running back Michael Turner (who struggled, only rushing for 42 irrelevant yards) was returned for a touchdown by the Cardinals’ Antrel Rolle.

The Cardinals, who ended up leading by 13 at one point, won the game 30-24.

If you look at Atlanta’s season from the forefront, you will quickly notice that Ryan’s success was instigated by the debonair play of Michael Turner. Turner was a newly acquired member during the 2008 offseason, signing a big mega deal with Atlanta, to come in and be a franchise back. He sure as hell looked like one this season, rushing for 1700 yards, leading the Falcons to a playoff berth.

Any team who has a deft running game is apt to have a solid passing game if their quarterback is competent enough to make smart passes, have good footing, and be a leader. Matt Ryan has all three of those aptitudes. With defenses looking for Turner to run the ball, play-action fakes opened up holes for Ryan and the Atlanta receivers to get downfield fast and look to get open. Atlanta thrived.

Nice season, Falcons.

The New Hierarchy

You know you’re at the top of the NFL when the only thing people can say to deign you is that “Randy Moss is your number one wide out!” or “you knew defensive signals!” That was how Tom Brady lived life as pro football’s Golden Boy, up until eight minutes into the 2008 season.

Who’s that team now? Not the New England Patriots, considering that Matt Cassel is far worse than average, and it shows (lack of effort, defense on the field more than often). Not the Dallas Cowboys, considering they haven’t even won a playoff game in 12 seasons. Not the Indianapolis Colts, considering that Peyton Manning is only a shell of what he used to be in his prime (his age has been showing, and maybe you can argue otherwise, but I’m sticking to what I think here). There’s no team in the NFL that is the that team right now.

The 1999 season is here all over again — except the St. Louis Rams aren’t going to go 13-3, and there’s no surprises so far, except the Miami Dolphins 38-13 over the Patriots last Sunday, along with Ronnie Brown’s five touchdown (four rushing, and one — surprisingly — passing) performance.

So, there’s no that team and there’s no golden boy. The NFL is as freelance as possible right now. You don’t have the same guys dominating. J.T. (John Thomas — I looked it up) O’Sullivan is quarterback’ing the San Francisco 49ers. The Seattle Seahawks may be in jeopardy of losing their crown as the NFC West champions. The 2008 St. Louis Rams may be the worst team in NFL history. The only thing I know that hasn’t changed is Al Davis, as he’s still the senile prick that we have all come to know and hate (“Commitment to Excellence”? I say Commitment to Debauchery, because firing head coach after head coach is not a way to work magic).

The Atlanta Falcons are 2-1, but that’s not going last. They will falter. Matt Ryan has a lot of faults, but Mike Smith — who I think is a better coach than what he’s being acredited for — is using him to his talents, allowing him to throw the deep bomb to guys like Roddy White.

Aaron Rodgers’ great play also won’t last, unfortuantely (I’m really rooting for the guy to play well in Green Bay, all because of my disdain for Brett Favre’s decision to return to football), because this is only his first year starting, and you don’t see a Kurt Warner every day (but like I said, this is like the 1999 season all over again, and that was Kurt Warner’s leap to NFL greatness).

It also could be the year of the apocalypse. There’s a receiver who talks trash for the Cincinnati Bengals (that’s not a surprise) who changed his last name to Ocho Cinco (the surprise). A attention-vying move, perhaps a message to the Bengals, who refused to trade him. Let’s hope he’s traded sometime, and that he lands on a team having to wear a number other than Eighty Five.

Is this the year of the “What The Hell Is Going On?” You tell me.