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I have to assume that no one is surprised that I am expecting that the Belichick-Brady Patriots are about to win their fifth ring in seven tries, as I’ve been saying it since before the last Miami game. It was that victory that assured them of the number one seed which has helped to pave the way to Houston. I was not surprised that the Texans game was as difficult as it was, but taken somewhat off guard by the relative ease of their 36-17, victory over Pittsburgh. So, before dropping a few thoughts on you about the upcoming Super Bowl, allow me a few moments to revisit a few aspects of the AFC Championship tilt.

 

Unringing the Bell:

 

 

The concern going into this one was over the fact that the Steelers had in RB Le’Veon Bell and WR Antonio Brown two weapons that were each capable of beating you. Bell was coming off a 30 carry/170 yard game against the Chiefs, Brown a 6/108, in their 16-13 win; so which one do you focus on? A double team of Brown seemed logical but could the defensive front contend with Bell without the extra help? The X factor in the equation that no one knew about going in was that Bell had injured his groin in the Chiefs game and was not going to 100%. In fact, he actually figured he was only at 50% at best going in, and left early on after only 6 carries that netted 20 yards. His sub, DeAngelo Williams was unable to pick up the slack, accounting for only 34 yards on 14 carries, and one touchdown. The Pats running game wasn’t much more effect as it only netted 57 yards, but that was off set by Tom Brady‘s 32/42 for 384 yards. Of that total, Chris Hogan took in 180 yards on 9 catches (2TDs), while Julian Edelman was good for 118 yards on 8 catches and one TD.

 

All in all, it wasn’t really the best couple of weeks for the Steelers. In addition to just not looking prepared for the Patriots, they are still recovering from looking very bad in Brown’s post game live video, for apparently hiding the fact the fact that Bell was significant weakened by his groin injury, and on top of  that, being accused by the Giants in week 13 of deflating footballs. After all that, the “Black and Gold” was looking a little bit black and blue. It’s no wonder “Big Ben” had to take some time to think about his future. Can you blame him?

 

The Big Chill:

 

 

It’s difficult to imagine of two characters in the big game who are calmer and cooler than Tom Brady and Matt Ryan. As a matter of fact, the 31 year old Ryan’s nickname back in his days at Boston College was “Matty Ice”. In what should likely be a real shootout, the QB who can maintain his cool, and take care of the football the best is likely to win. I’m assuming that’s going to be Brady as he has essentially made a very long career out of being able to do just that, especially when things start to heat up. Ryan on the other hand, has developed a reputation of losing much of that cool during the post season, and will definitely be looking to end that perception. He’s off to an impressive start having beaten Super Bowl winners Russell Wilson and Aaron Rodgers to get to this point, but faces a real challenge in TB12.

 

More accurately he faces a real challenge in the Patriots defense, a unit that was developed into a very dependable force. Much is made of the fact that the schedule they played was less than impressive, but I’m not sure how much that matters at this point. If the Pats “D” was dependent on a number of rookies or inexperienced coaches, then I would be very concerned, but they’re not. I can’t imagine that veterans like Devin McCourty, Rob Ninkovich, Alan Branch, Patrick Chung, Dont’a Hightower, or a young guy like Malcolm Butler, are anything but prepared and focused on the task at hand. I’m sure Coach Bill wouldn’t have it any other way.

 

So, although a 34-31 Pats win sounds right, I’m counting on the Pats defense to produce a couple of turnovers which Brady will turn into points. Pats win 41-24.

 

I admit it, more than anything I want to see Roger present the Brady and the Patriots with”The Trophy”. If you are being honest, you’d admit it too.

 

Stay tuned.

 

Jerry Ballgame

About Jerry Ballgame

The personification of "old school", Jerry Ballgame was born in the shadow of Dr. Naismith's peach basket, and baptized in that "Dirty Water." Designated by his "Uncle" Ted, to keep an eye on things, he's here to tell everyone what his view is like from the Hub of the Universe.

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