It’s a quarterback league. You can only get so far without one. Which is why Conference Championship weekend looks the way it does.
The New England Patriots, Pittsburgh Steelers, Atlanta Falcons, and Green Bay Packers all have something in common: an elite QB under center.
Matt Ryan is the only quarterback still standing that hasn’t won a Super Bowl. Tom Brady is looking for his fifth Super Bowl ring, while Ben Roethlisberger is looking for his third, and Aaron Rodgers is looking for his second.
The Patriots are currently the favorite to win Super Bowl LI. And Brady is the favorite to win Super Bowl MVP. It seems as though Las Vegas feels the same way I do.
There isn’t a defense left in the tournament that can stop the Patriots’ offense.
Give the Houston Texans credit. They were able to make Brady uncomfortable in last weekend’s Divisional game at Gillette Stadium, and force him to make some bad throws.
Statistically, there isn’t a potential opposing defense left in the tournament that’s as good as Houston’s. And if Brady can put up 34 points against that type of pass rush in a game where the Patriots’ offense didn’t look good at all, what will he do to Pittsburgh’s defense on Sunday at Gillette? Or even better, what will he do against those brutal defenses still playing in the NFC, if the Pats are able to get by the Steelers?
This isn’t me being a Patriots cheerleader. As a football fan who’s being realistic about the four teams that are left standing, which one of the other three teams has a defense that can slow down Brady, if one of the best defenses in the league couldn’t prevent him from putting up a 30-spot, even while making him throw a few picks?
The blueprint for giving Brady fits is there. You have to get to him. But will the Steelers be able to do that?
Home-field advantage will be huge for New England on Sunday against Pittsburgh. Earlier this season, in Pittsburgh, Brady threw for 222 yards with two touchdowns and no interceptions. He wasn’t sacked a single time. The Patriots won that game in late October, 27-16. And I know, Roethlisberger didn’t play because he was injured. But last time I checked, Big Ben doesn’t play defense.
Now, nearly three months later, Roethlisberger still won’t be playing defense, and the Patriots will be hosting the AFC Championship. And I expect Brady’s numbers against this Steelers defense to be better in his own building than they were in a Week 7 win.
If that turns out to be the case, then it will set the Patriots up for a Super Bowl against either Atlanta or Green Bay.
I don’t know if you’ve watched either of these two defenses extensively this season. But I have. And in a neutral site, I don’t see a scenario in which Brady doesn’t go off against either the Falcons or Packers.
Statistically, Atlanta and Green Bay have two of the worst defenses in football. The Falcons’ pass defense ranks 28th in the NFL, allowing 267 yards in the air per game. The Packers’ pass defense ranks second-to-last in the NFL, allowing 269 yards in the air per game.
If you’re using the eye test, you’ll probably see that the stats don’t lie. Brady shouldn’t have an issue with either defense in a potential Super Bowl.
Meanwhile, the Patriots’ defense ranks No. 1 in the NFL, allowing the least amount of points per game. So, ya, while it’s a quarterback league, it helps to be able to play defense as well.
Most importantly, it helps to have the best quarterback. That’s what the Patriots have. That’s what Brady is.
And there’s no defense still standing that’s good enough to stop him from hoisting that Lombardi Trophy once again.