by Ryan Meehan
We’re down to the Final Four of the 2014-15 NFL season, and it’s safe to say that all of the teams who didn’t really deserve to remain in the hunt for Super Bowl XLIX are now gone. Every team who got here is deserving of the chance to be a game away from the big one, and we all know it. We’re not going to discuss Dallas or Denver in this article – This piece is for the teams who have actually earned the honor of being discussed the second week of January. The NFC gives us a match-up that may very well end up becoming similar to the Giants/Niners playoff match-ups we saw in the late eighties. It’s a conference game, but not a divisional game, yet the two teams can’t stand each other with the intensity of a rivalry that exists within a division. This of course goes back to that fateful Monday night a couple of years ago where the NFL discovered that paying your referees actually matters, so two of them don’t end up in the end zone each making a different call within the same second. That’s water under the bridge now and while out West we may be seeing the new establishment of a rivalry we can enjoy for several years, one that only recently went away has now reared its head again in the New England area. The Colts and Patriots are now must-see TV again, just so long as you don’t count the Sunday Night Football game from earlier this year as “Must See TV”. But then again, who doesn’t love a good crime scene? I was glued to the TV that night and couldn’t wait for some hot young brunette to show up and start powdering prints while LL Cool J said something urban enough to retain his street cred, but just non-threatening enough to not scare white network television viewers in the 55-64 demographic. The point here is, as NFL fans we like killer match-ups. Both of these games have the potential for being awesome. Sunday could end up being six of the best hours of sports you’ll ever see, and I hope that for everyone’s sake I’m right. I can’t tell you how happy I am to say that one of these team’s playoff runs is based almost solely off of the energy put out by their defense, so that’s exactly where we’ll start in the 2015 Conference Championship preview edition…
Green Bay Packers (13-4) +7.5 at Seattle Seahawks (13-4) (47.5)
Aaron Rodgers probably should probably end up winning the NFL MVP. In a league too afraid to give that award to JJ Watt, what Rodgers has done this year more than amply qualifies him for that particular honor. However, I think he’s in some serious trouble here. While the Cowboys defensive line wasn’t able to expose the weakness in Aaron Rodgers calf, Phil Knight from Nike is probably sending hourly emails to Pete Carroll with a picture of what that injury currently looks like. We might sit here and give Ndomakung Suh a lot of shit for going after that calf, but we’d only be reporting half of that story if we didn’t mention the Seahawks are watching that leg in the film room and thinking it’s prime rib. Now that we’re familiar with Seattle and why we love or hate them so much, it’s time for us to see if we can get acquainted with that offense. The Packers are giving up 120 yards a game on the ground, so containing Marshawn Lynch could make for a very long day for them here. The Seahawks are everywhere when the other team has the ball. They are probably the most irritating defense in the history of the NFL, and they are well aware of it. That’s where all of the trash talking comes from, and as a guy who isn’t using a fan of trash-talking I respect the hell out of what the Seahawks do because they can back every word of it up. Kam Chancellor had the pick that sealed the game last week and Sherman obviously stepped up as well, so maybe it’ll be Earl Thomas’ time to shine in this year’s NFC Championship round. The Packers are a great team, but they are beat up and Rodgers’ lack of ability to move outside of the pocket could be a problem here. If I saw the Seahawks execute a corner blitz that included a drone strike, I can’t say I’d be the least bit surprised. Eddie Lacy has been okay, but just okay isn’t going to cut it here and he could easily have a 25 yard day on twelve carries. Green Bay is a classic style team, but to be honest it just feels like something is off here. It’s not just the calf, I genuinely don’t think that they are better than Seattle is. I hate the line on this game, but I get it: One wrong step on Rodgers’ part and it could turn into a blowout awfully quick. Let’s hope that for his sake that doesn’t happen and we get a good game out him even though I still think he’ll come up short. The Seahawks are going to the Super Bowl, but they won’t cover. Also stay away from the point total because we’re not sure what is going to happen to that calf just yet.
Seahawks 24, Packers 20
Indianapolis Colts (13-5) +7 at New England Patriots (13-4) (53.5)
On paper, there is no possible way the Colts walk out of Foxboro Sunday Night winners and as a result headed to Super Bowl XLIX. New England is simply way too unpredictable for the Colts to contain. But in a way, isn’t that the way that they’ve succeeded this season? They have the number one passing attack in the league, and that’s not the type of thing that happens by accident. Unless you play the Jaguars and Titans for a quarter of your schedule, in which case it’s much easier to get there. The five teams that have beaten the Colts this season were all quality teams: Denver, Philly, Pittsburgh, Dallas…and New England. The point here is that while Luck has looked incredible in a lot of his match-ups, against teams who are high quality he has struggled. So it’s hardly going to be realistic to think he’ll just be able to waltz into Massachusetts and wipe his dick on all of the cookware. A lot of that has to do with Tom Brady, who has led the league in wiping his dick on things since the second Drew Bledsoe got hurt. The Patriots are scary good. They are easily the most dangerous team in the entire league, and they’ll be hosting this game in their own backyard. (By comparison, the Colts still have Matt Hasselbeck on payroll…) When these two teams met in week eleven, Jonas Gray became the most unlikely star on the most popular show on television. Since that game, he hasn’t touched the ball once and that tells you everything you need to know about the business approach that the Patriots have towards running their ballclub. They have legions of guys on standby who could be the next playoff hero, but my money is all on Gronkowski to be the star in this one. They want him to go out there and have the game of his life, and then pull him the second the game becomes out of reach for Indy. Another important point of interest here is the stakes: The stakes for the Patriots are very high. I’d have to think that if they lose this one at home, they would consider the season to be a failure. And they’d be right to do that because they are a one seed that I would have to think is favored to win the Super Bowl right now. But for the Colts? Doesn’t matter. Unless the mob takes out both of Andrew Luck’s knees at a fundraiser, he’s going to be in this predicament many, many more times in his career. So in a way he has nothing to lose here. Except for the game, which is exactly what he will lose on Sunday night. Tom Brady will be headed to his sixth Super Bowl, and the New England Patriots will cover the spread because he did just so.
Patriots 30, Colts 19
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