By Jim Churchill
We’ll get to “America’s Team” in just a bit, but first…
A pretty good weekend of football this weekend in the National Football League.
On Saturday, it was good to see the worst sports city in the country (Miami a close second) show up for the Falcons rout of Seattle. Atlanta looks like the real deal. They played the most complete game of the bye week teams. The focus has been on Matt Ryan and the offense, but the Falcons defense is better than the numbers might indicate. Can Atlanta turn out the lights on the Georgia Dome with a trip to the Super Bowl? They have their stiffest challenge ahead.
Also on Saturday, a case of relief for New England fans after the Patriots victory over the Texans. The Pats engine sputtered a bit, but in the end Dion Lewis’s historic day led the way to the AFC Championship Game. We are spoiled in New England. The Pats covered an enormous spread with an 18 point win and we are somewhat queasy about how they got there. Is the less than “clean” effort by the Patriots a trend or an aberration? Based on history, I think the latter.
Sunday’s action in the Divisional round may have been the best we have seen from the NFL all season long. The competitiveness of the games was not by default as it seemed throughout the regular season in a league rife with mediocre to bad teams. This day featured some of the league’s best going at it in down to the wire finishes.
The last game of the weekend certainly did not disappoint. The Steelers have had a roller coaster of a season in many respects. Patriots fans have always had their eyes on Pittsburgh as that team that could stand in the way of another Super Bowl appearance. That match up has materialized after the 2 point win by the Steelers over the Chiefs. Ben Roethlisberger, Le’Veon Bell and Antonio Brown were very good, but kicker Chris Boswell was responsible for all of the Steelers points in the 18-16 win. Six field goals will not get it done in Foxboro, but the Patriots defense will be facing the best offense they have seen all season this Sunday.
Now to the Cowboys…
The Patriots win was a relief. The Falcons victory was eye-opening. The Steelers game was riveting. The Dallas loss to the Packers was simply enjoyable!
I must confess, I grew up a Cowboys fan. It is a period in my life that I am not proud of. The Cowboys were the team I saw first. It was a game against the 49ers and I got hooked. There were no Giants fans in my family, and the Patriots didn’t even register. I was young and easily influenced, please forgive me.
In my defense, these were the Cowboys of Tom Landry, Gil Brandt, Roger Staubach, Drew Pearson, Randy White, Tony Dorsett, Calvin Hill, etc. The Cowboys were the cream of the crop and loaded with class.
Now the Cowboys are Jerry Jones, who is in my mind, one of the most repulsive figures in professional sports. The Cowboys are hype. The Cowboys are bluster. The Cowboys are Greg Hardy and Randy Gregory. And through it all, the Cowboys are losers. They last won a Super Bowl in the 1995 season. “Dem Boyz” are just 3-9 in the postseason since that last title. Nice work Jeray!
About a decade ago, my provincialism set in. New England is my home. Boston is my sports town. The best sport city in the land. Honestly, it had nothing to do with the 3 Super Bowl trophies for the Patriots at the time. I like our crustiness. I won’t worship players, but New England and Boston is where my sports heart lies. It just took a little while for my fandom to mature. I am blessed.
Conference Championship Weekend
In the end, four of the best teams in the NFL are left standing. Certainly the four hottest teams are now in the mix to be Super Bowl champions. And four of the best quarterbacks in the game will lead their team into action.
Packers 33 Falcons 27
Patriots 24 Steelers 23 (counting on the Steelers turning it over a couple of times…)
Resulting in a Brady/Rodgers duel on February 5th in Houston.
Jim Churchill is the host of The Drive, weekdays 4pm to 6pm on 92.9fm The Ticket and streaming live at DriveShowMaine.com. Follow us on Twitter, @DriveShowMaine and “Like Us” on Facebook, Drive Show Maine.