With the Championship Round in the books let us look back and go over some things I learned from this recent round of the NFL Playoffs:
1. It may actually be a good thing Atlanta didn’t win due to Matt Ryan’s injury
Nobody wants to lose, especially with a chance to go to the Super Bowl, but let’s face facts here: if the Falcons advanced to Super Bowl 47 we’d be spending the next two weeks questioning whether or not Matt Ryan would be able to on Super Bowl Sunday. More then likely Ryan would give it a good shot but he would be very limited in what he could actually do, as we saw towards the end of the NFC Championship Game. You don’t want to play in the biggest game of your career and question whether or not you are healthy enough to even play.
Ryan’s health would’ve seriously put a lot of doubt in the Falcons chances of winning the Vince Lombardi trophy and competing at his “normal level.” This NFC Championship Game loss will give the Falcons an opportunity to “taste” what it’s like to be so close and watch another team celebrate the chance to play in the Super Bowl. That type of attitude, at times, gives team’s the motivation to go back out there the following season and try to recapture the glory, with the hopes of finally winning in the NFC Championship Game. I like Atlanta in years to come but this season was not their year.
2. The window could be closing in New England
There was belief at the end of last season that the window in New England could be closing and after the heartbreaking AFC Championship game loss you have to question it even more yet again. New England just did not look good at all in the 2nd half versus the Baltimore Ravens. Point the finger at whomever you want to blame but the Ravens just outplayed the New England Patriots on ever facet of the game.
Now don’t get me wrong here, New England will make the playoffs again next season, it’s just whether or not they will be that Super Bowl contender we deem them to be nearly every season. Tom Brady is, at times, looking old in the pocket and that’s because he is getting old. He’s not getting any younger out there and you have to wonder how many years he may actually have left in the tank. The Patriots know that they probably have at least one good Super Bowl run left in them, it’s just coming down to whether or not they will ever be able to reach that pinnacle ever again.
3. Colin Kaepernick is reminding me a lot of Tom Brady’s original path
In recent weeks I have been able to correlate the way Colin Kaepernick has come up this season to the way Tom Brady came up with the New England Patriots. Both quarterbacks came in to fill the void left behind their injured starting quarterback and they never gave the job up even when their QB was healthy enough to return. Both quarterbacks also took both of their teams to the Super Bowl that season, Tom Brady obviously won (in New Orleans ironically enough) while we wait to see what Colin Kaepernick will do in the Superdome.
It’s a screenplay that we have seen written before as there were a lot of questions surrounding both quarterbacks’ in-regards to their success once the starting gig was theirs. Now the actual way these two quarterbacks play is completely different but Kaepernick’s journey really reminds me a lot of Brady. Even in the NFC Championship Game we were able to see Kaepernick control his composure when the Niners were down to lead them back to victory. Just like Brady in the Patriots first Super Bowl winning season, the Niners will only go as far as Colin Kaepernick allows them to go.
4. Joe Flacco and Jim Caldwell are proving all of us wrong
While Colin Kaepernick has been one of the better stories throughout this season, the emergence of Joe Flacco and offensive coordinator Jim Caldwell has been the best story this postseason. Both of these figures are often disrespected in Football context and never receive the praise they justly deserve, until now. Questions of Joe Flacco being an elite quarterback and Jim Caldwell deserving another crack at a NFL head coaching job will be answered on Super Bowl Sunday but for now they are making a really strong case for both.
Flacco and Caldwell have been the butt of jokes in the NFL at times because one of them isn’t an elite quarterback (but says he is) while the other was bashed as a head coach for not being able to win without Peyton Manning. To see both of these polarizing figures come together and lead a memorable playoff charge to become AFC Champions is pretty amazing. Even if you doubted them, you have to enjoy or respect watching them prove us all wrong.
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