In a huge breaking turn of events, Roger Goodell has suspended the entire Atlanta Falcons organization for ball tampering in the NFC Championship Game! To ensure that a champion will be crowned in Houston, Commissioner Goodell has called upon the NFC runner-up Green Bay Packers to take the Falcons’ place. This means a rematch 20 years in the making will happen as the Green Bay Packers will take on the New England Patriots in Super Bowl LI! Since this historic decision happened at such short notice and the Packers and Falcons are completely different teams, let us at Cream City Central bring you up to speed for the big game.
As mentioned before this is a rematch 20 years in the making after the Packers beat the Patriots 35-21 in Super Bowl XXXI in New Orleans behind the play of the legendary Desmond Howard. It is safe to say Howard’s Super Bowl record 244 total returning yards won’t be repeated in this game but the Packers are led by another legendary play
er who goes by the name of Aaron Rodgers. Rodgers unsurprisingly had another MVP caliber year throwing for over 4400 yards, 40 touchdowns and only 7 interceptions. Because of the Packer
s horrible 4-6 start, he has been statistically under the radar, even being told he has been having a “down year”. What many forget is that an NFL season has 16 games. Ever since he said his Packers could run the table, Rodgers has fully formed into his demigod self and has led the team on an eight game winning strea
k. Along with Rodgers is a great tandem of receives which includes Jordy Nelson and Devante Adams who both had over 10 receiving touchdowns for the year. Tight-end Jared Cook has also proven to be a deadly weapon for Rodgers especially in the playoffs. The weakness of the Packers and probably the biggest reason Rodgers’ back hurts is the injury plagued defense. The defense does have good areas such as safeties Morgan Burnett and Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, defensive tackle Mike Daniels and linebacker Nick Perry who leads the team in sacks with 11 but it is no secret that the passing defense is playing at a historically bad level. After starting 4-6, many wrote the Packers off but through heart, determination and the mystical play of Aaron Rodgers, they can beat any team on any given day by hook or by crook.
The biggest question going into the game is: Can the Packers defense slow Tom Brady and the Patriots offense enough. It has proven to be a difficult task for opposing defenses, as its more than Brady that teams have to worry about. Julian Edelman had over 1000 yards receiving for the season, tight-end Martellus Bennett led the team in receiving touchdowns with 7 and Chris Hogan had a huge game against the Steelers in the AFC Championship game. The Patriots also have a deadly rushing attack behind LeGarrette Blount who has over 1100 yards rushing and led the league in touchdowns with 18. Then of course there is Tom Brady who despite missing the first four games of the season, is having another career year passing over 3500 yards with 28 touchdowns and only 2 interceptions. Brady throughout his career has relied heavily on the short pass game and yards after the catch, a stat the Patriots lead the NFL in per reception at 6.34. Another huge asset the Patriots have that is common for Bill Belichick teams is their defense and it’s the best scoring defense in the league only allowing 15.6 points a game. A strategy for Belichick defenses historically is to completely take out the opposing team’s best player if its eliminating the running game or heavily pressuring the quarterback. They have a great tandem of solid players on that side of the ball between their secondary of Logan Ryan, Patrick Chung, Devin McCourty, Malcolm Butler, their linebackers Dont’a Hightower, Rob Ninkovich and their defensive line of Chris Long and Alan Branch who leads the team in sacks with 7. The Packers do not have a consistent run game but they do not keep tha
t a secret as they literally dare opposing defenses to stop Aaron Rodger’s passing attack. For the past eight weeks of football no opposing defense has been able to get the job done but if there is one that can it’s a Belichick coached one. If the Packers want to score on this defense they must play the game that’s been leading them to victory in the last eight weeks but they’ll have to step up their already great pass blocking because that Patriots defense will attack Rodgers right off the bat to shake him up for the entire game. They must allow Rodgers to not get trapped in the pocket when pressure is high because as everyone knows, he is the most unstoppable quarterback the world has ever seen when he passes outside of the pocket. Another strategy that has made Brady great for all these years is his ability to connect on quick passes, usually spending only 2-3 seconds in the pocket. Because of the expected pass rush of the Patriots it would be wise if Rodgers and his offense got the ball off quickly like his opposing QB will do when his team is on offense. Rodgers is far more accurate on quick passes than he is when he has to spend more than five seconds in the pocket. There isn’t much the Packers can do on defense to stop Brady and his offense. A Brady led team has only lost once this season and that was to the Seahawks. Seattle’s strategy for that game was to blitz Tom Brady and make him uncomfortable in the pocket but their secondary was great enough to prevent the quick pass game. The Packers’ secondary obviously doesn’t compare to Seattle’s and even their pass rush but they’ll have to put everything they have into pressuring Brady. It is their only chance to slow that offense down as it will be a high scoring game regardless.
Despite the NFC Championship Game which is now stricken from the record books, the Packers are the hottest team in football and it is extremely difficult to extinguish a red hot football team, especially in the playoffs. Rodgers conquered the great to solid defenses of the New York Giants and Dallas Cowboys but he’ll have to conquer the best to win his second championship and the franchise’s record fourteenth. This game is truly a dream matchup, as the two greats of Aaron Rodgers and Tom Brady go head to head with only one prevailing over the other. This game will truly quiet the argument of who’s the better quarterback. It will be an entertaining shootout throughout and it will definitely come down to the last drive. Happy Super Bowl Sunday to all!