GMIM #13 MLK Day

Welcome to another installment of Good mourning, it’s Monday! This weekly blog looks to cover various topics in the news, along with personal stories or encounters from the past week at home and work to help you through your first day back at work (unless you don’t work). Hopefully my seven followers like this and share this to make it eight. Enjoy…

MLK Day, and Inauguration is four days away

Here we sit on Monday, January 16, 2017, also known as Martin Luthur King, Jr. Day. While we celebrate the life of arguably the most important figure in racial equality, we stand only four days away from the inauguration of the most controversial President-Elect in modern history. At least Trump acknowledged the day…

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I’m sure Trump is unaware Congressman John Lewis walked with MLK and fought for equality. I setting the line for Trump’s next tweet attacking someone or questioning a topic at 6 1/2 hours. Place your bets, folks.

NFL Conference Championships are set

The Divisional round is over for the NFL and we head into next week with a pair of games to determine who will play in Super Bowl LI. On the NFC side we have…

Green Bay Packers vs Atlanta Falcons

These teams met in Week 8, with Atlanta squeezing out a 33-32 victory at home. Aaron Rodgers went 28 for 28 with 246 yards and four touchdowns, or in other words, a typical Aaron Rodgers game. Matt Ryan had three touchdowns while completing 28 of 35 passes for 288 yards. As the score indicates, this game was evenly contested and the stats are a reflection of this as well. After much film study (watching the five minute recap), if the NFC conference championship is a reflection of week 8, it’s going to be a shootout. Both teams are much improved since the middle of the season, Green Bay especially.

For the Falcons, if they can contain the Packer receivers, they have a shot to win. During the Week 8 match-up, Atlanta had a linebacker spying on Rodgers to prevent the run from number 12. Yet when they did this, Atlanta also seemed to be playing a soft zone, even in key areas and downs. Packer receivers need to be jammed at the line and closely covered throughout routes. Easier said than done. The falcons front line needs to get to Rodgers and do so fast. When Rodgers has time in the pocket, it’s inevitable he completes a 30 yard pass.

For the Packers, don’t let Sanu or Jones beat you over the top. It seemed like during the Cowboys game that the Packers were called for numerous pass interference and holding penalties. If Green Bay can play this one cleaner, they should be in good shape.

I’m no football wizard and might be the last person qualified to do NFL analysis, but everyone on the planet knows this will be an air frenzy between Ryan and Rodgers. The Packers defense has looked suspect at times, so if Atlanta can get to Rodgers, it should swing in their favor. Although the last-second field goal is a huge momentum swing for the Packers, it shouldn’t be overlooked that they gave up a huge lead to Dallas and nearly lost it.

Zach’s unintelligent pick: Falcons 35  Packers 30

Pittsburgh Steelers vs New England Patriots

Back in Week 7, the Patriots traveled to Pittsburgh to take on the Steelers in what was expected to be one of the better games featured on the NFL schedule. Then, Ben Roethlisberger got injured and we were stuck watching Landry Jones play quarterback for the Steelers. Yet with some of the passes he was making, you could have made the case that Big Ben threw on the number 3 jersey. The Pats managed to win 27-16, with Tom Brady tossing a pair of touchdowns in his 222 yard day. Jones threw a touchdown, but was also picked off in the endzone. It was a marquee win for the Pats, nor was it a big loss for the Steelers as well. But it certainly helps gives us an idea of how next Sunday will go.

For the Steelers, getting to Brady and getting to him fast is key. The Texans were able to force their way through the A-gap, make center David Andrews look like a child, and knock Brady down numerous times throughout the Divisional game. James Harrison is the one big name that could create issues for New England, but if he gets double-teamed, it has to be next man up to knock Brady down. The Patriots love to do the quick passes over the middle, so man coverage with a linebacker faking blitz for zone will help break up passes, or even better, create turnovers. With Big Ben healthy, he needs to chuck it up to Antonio Brown, as the Pats secondary isn’t exactly the shutdown D Logan Ryan thinks it is. Le’Veon Bell is great at being patient and reading the line before deciding where to run; with the Pats typically playing well against the run, this will be key for Bell. The Steelers don’t need to out think the Patriots, they just need to show they have more talent on offense and keep Brady off the field.

For the Patriots, they need to stay to the fundamentals and as Bill Belichick says, “Do your job.” The offensive line won’t be playing the best defense like they did against Houston, but the Steelers still pose a threat against Brady and his receivers. New England cannot fumble the ball like the did against the Texans and likewise in Pittsburgh back in Week 7. New England needs to be able to punch in the football in goal line and red zone situations. They cannot afford to settle for field goals. On the defensive side, blitzing Roethisberger may seem ideal, but Antonio Brown is so talented that he could probably catch anything tossed his way in single coverage. The Chiefs seemed to cover the Steelers receivers, while leaving tight end Jesse James wide open in a 20 yard radius. The theory is to stop the most talented players and let the others try to beat you, but it’s another to have the tight end set up all the scoring for Pittsburgh.

In the end, this will be a completely different game from what we saw earlier this season. Big Ben is back and the Patriots (yet again) do not have Rob Gronkowski in this game. Gronk caught a touchdown last time out, was key in big catches, and was excellent in run blocking. The Patriots have been fine without number 87, but it certainly makes things more challenging. If the Patriots are going to win, they need to win the time of possession battle. They struggled at first against Huston and did fine, but the Texans offense looks like a high school team compared to the Steelers. I have been back and forth with who I think will win this game while writing this. I think Pittsburgh is the more talented team and should expose the Patriots on defense. Yet, with most playoff games, it comes down to coaching. The Patriots are clearly in Mike Tomlin’s, and Antonio Brown’s now-deleted Facebook Live video within locker room clearly shows this. It also shows that the Steelers are not a disciplined team whatsoever. My favorite part of the video was the players being told to chill on social media, and Brown continues to record for another 14 minutes. It’d be a hot fire flames take to say Facebook is why a team lost, but it is a reflection of the team’s coaching.

I’ve been trying to tell myself Pittsburgh will pull this off, but the Steelers have never defeated Tom Brady in Gillette Stadium. (The only win in Gillette came against the Matt Cassel led Pats while Brady was rehabbing from an ACL tear.) It wont be a blowout by any means, but the Pats get it done.

Zach’s guess:  Patriots 27  Steelers 24

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  1. Pingback: GMIM #14: Patriots and Falcons are on to Houston | Zachary Adam Gray

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