Welcome to the AFC North weekly predictions!
Each week, our AFC North featured writers will list their picks for that week and be forced to explain why they voted as they did. Keep in mind that these picks are for entertainment purposes only, and in no way should be used to influence gambling or illegal activity, unless you’re smart enough to recognize that we know more than you because we publish things.
In the Championship round the AFC North writers met similar fates as both banked on historical trends continuing. The safest trend was that the Patriots would turn their #1 seed into a Super Bowl appearance. The NFC Championship game was much more challenging in that both the Packers and Falcons have had playoff challenges, but the writers figured the Packers at least have had something to brag about in the Rodgers era. The Falcons as well as QB Matt Ryan haven’t had much success at all until now. As a matter of fact, in the Falcons one Super Bowl appearance after the 1998 season, they needed a miracle to take out the Randy Moss led 15-1 Vikings. Down by seven with just over two minutes remaining, they needed a TD drive AND a 38 yard field goal miss by Gary Anderson, who hadn’t missed a field goal all season going into that game.
Super Bowl schedule:
Atlanta Falcons (13-5) vs New England Patriots (16-2), 6:30pm, FOX
The game has a chance be one of the highest scoring Super Bowls in history if the playoff results are any indication. The Patriots won their first two games 70-33, and the Falcons 80-41 (the top five scoring Super Bowls range from 65 to 75 points.) Then again, both defenses are playing at the top of their games, so a right hard hitting game might be possible.
One thing is certain: For the first time since anyone can remember, there isn’t a “gate” attached to the Patriots in the Super Bowl… yet. As a matter of fact, the only controversy associated with this Patriots team has been their “alleged” relationship with President Donald Trump, from Kraft to Belichick to Brady. I’m not a Trump fan and question some of his moves, but the absurdity of post election protest bullying is almost as comical as the Deflategate lead up to last year’s Suber Bowl, and the insults President Barack Obama received by PETA after he squashed a fly during one of his early speeches. That said, people who could care less about football have now been added to ever growing list of Pats haters, so I find it funny, and I’m sure Pats fans could care less.
On to the predictions!
Paul Johansson’s picks (8-2):
Patriots @ Falcons
This has been a tough decision. My two losses have been the result of not believing in the Falcons. There is something about this team that other Falcons squads have not had: toughness all over the field. They also have an offense that is clicking so well that Brock Osweiler could find a wide open receiver… maybe even Joe Flacco. The Falcons have always had weapons around Matt Ryan, but now they have a solid offensive line and a creative coaching staff. The results have been phenomenal.
The Patriots have been the Patriots. Game-planning and coaching are reasons #1 and 1a for why they consistently win. They make the most out of their talent. They make playmakers out of those who have no business being playmakers. They turn troubled talent into focused contributors. They are prepared for anything their opponents throw at them. They don’t always win, but the always have the chance to win and will usually do something unexpected.
There is something about the Falcon s this year so I’m leaning their way… plus I can’t go 0-3 picking against them in the playoffs.
Patriots 30, Falcons 34
Jack Crawford’s picks (6-4):
Patriots @ Falcons
Despite a close talent margin, it’s impossible to imagine Bill Belichick and Tom Brady losing to a team they’ve had two weeks to prepare for. It’ll be close, but not close enough.
Patriots 27, Falcons 23