NFL Final Four
January 26, 2017
What looked like a fabulous Sunday of NFL Football last week ended up being a letdown. Both Conference champion games were basically over by halftime and we now have a Super Bowl with New England and Atlanta. Of course, New England is the favorite. But I will preview the game next week as we get the traditional week off from football prior to the Super Bowl.
We saw a playoff coming out party for Atlanta quarterback Matt Ryan is his team’s 44-21 blowout victory over the Green Bay Packers in the NFC game. Ryan, the likely MVP of the league, came into the season with a reputation of not playing well in playoff or big games. Not any more, as he threw for 392 yards and four touchdowns against the overmatched Packers. The Falcons have a ton of offense and they will need to put points on the board against the Pats.
If Ryan does win the MVP vote, Tom Brady will likely come in second. After he led the Patriots to a convincing win over the Pittsburgh Steelers, Brady is now 7-4 in conference championship games. Yes, that means he will be playing in his seventh Super Bowl. You can almost count on the nation rooting for Atlanta next week. New England, despite the amazing accomplishments of the 38-year old Brady and head coach Bill Belichick over the past 17 years, is the team everyone loves to hate. Unless you reside in the Northeast that is.
ACC Hoop Talk
We are just a little over a month away from March Madness so I thought I would summarize the ACC season thus far in 2016-2017. As predicted in these pages, the conference is very deep this campaign. Seven schools already have 15 wins and six of them (Florida State – 7th), (North Carolina – 9th), (Virginia – 12th), (Louisville – 13th), (Notre Dame – 14th) and (Duke – 17th) are nationally ranked. In other words, the conference is loaded.
I looked back and believe that a single conference has not been this strong since the 2010-11 Big East sent 11 teams to the NCAA Tournament. The regular season is closing in on the half way mark and Florida State, UNC, and Notre Dame are on top with 6-1 marks. Surprisingly, Duke is back in seventh place with a 3-4 ACC record. I thought the Blue Devils, along with the Tar Heels and Cavaliers, had legitimate chances to win the ACC and the National Title.
Pardon me while I insert Florida State in for Duke. The Seminoles, along with Notre Dame are the surprises in the conference while Duke has been disappointing. Still, the Blue Devils are one of 12 schools the ACC potentially will send to the Dance. There’s no chance all 12 end up making the tournament since they will beat up on each other come February, but 10 is a real possibility.
Florida State has the ingredients to be special. Jonathan Isaac is truly one of the most athletically gifted freshmen in the country. Pairing him with the talented guard duo of Dwayne Bacon and Xavier Rathan-Mayes and you have the recipe for success – a big man and two excellent backcourt players. The Seminoles are fun to watch. I can see them hanging on to edge out the Tar Heels for the regular season ACC championship. Then the real fun begins.