Best Offensive Final Four In NFL History?
Fans of the vanquished Dallas Cowboys, Seattle Seahawks, Houston Texans and Kansas City Chiefs, all teams that lost in the NFL’s divisional round, might not want to hear this but the two games on conference championship Sunday — Green Bay at Atlanta in the NFC and Pittsburgh at New England in the AFC — are the best matchups possible this season and perhaps the greatest offensive NFL Final Four in league history.
Think about the four quarterbacks who will take their respective fields at the Georgia Dome and Gillette Stadium on Sunday. The Patriots’ Tom Brady, Packers’ Aaron Rodgers, Steelers’ Ben Roethlisberger and Falcons’ Matt Ryan have combined for seven Super Bowl titles and four NFL MVP Awards.
Ryan is the “weak link” of the group, and he had the greatest season in Falcons history while leading one of the best offenses in NFL annals. He’s going to join the MVP club when the 2016 voting results are announced on Super Bowl weekend. Brady and Rodgers each have won two of MVPs, while of course Brady is going for a fifth Super Bowl title, which would set a record for quarterbacks, and Rodgers a second. Big Ben is looking for his third Super Bowl ring. The combined seven Super Bowl titles between the conference championship QBs is the most ever. Brady, Rodgers and Roethlisberger are all lock Hall of Famers. Ryan might be if keeps going like he did this year.
Need more? Each conference finalist enters on at least a five-game winning streak. That’s a first since the NFL-AFL merger. The four clubs have just one combined loss since Thanksgiving. The Patriots, Steelers, Falcons and Packers also all rank the Top 10 in both scoring offense and total offense. “They” say defense wins championships. “They” might be wrong this year.
New England is the +135 favorite at BetOnline to win Super Bowl LI in Houston, and you can get the field at -155 against the Patriots. They actually have lost three of their past four AFC Championship Games, although the last two defeats were in Denver. New England is a 5.5-point home favorite against Pittsburgh. The Patriots have won the past three meetings, including a 27-16 victory in Pittsburgh in Week 7. However, Roethlisberger was out injured that day. Brady is 4-0 at home in his career against the Steelers with 15 touchdowns and zero interceptions. He is in an 11th conference title game, most of any player ever.
Atlanta has never won a Super Bowl but is the +250 second-favorite with the field at -300 against the Falcons. They are 4.5-point favorites over the Packers in what will be the final NFL game played at the Georgia Dome with the Falcons moving to a new stadium for next season. The total on that game is an obscene 60. If that moves just a half-point higher by kickoff, it will be the highest in NFL playoff history. A Saints-Lions wild-card game on Jan. 7, 2012, also had a number of 60 and the total went over with New Orleans winning 45-28. Green Bay has won four of the past five meetings vs. the Falcons, but Atlanta won 33-32 at the Georgia Dome in Week 8 on a Ryan TD pass in the final minute.
The favored Super Bowl result is Patriots over Falcons at +225. New England is currently listed at -3.5 against both Atlanta and Green Bay. Pittsburgh is -1 vs. the Falcons and a pick’em against the Packers. The longest shot result for an exact Super Bowl outcome is Pittsburgh beating Green Bay at +1400. Rodgers won his lone Super Bowl over Roethlisberger’s Steelers six years ago in XLV at AT&T Stadium outside Dallas by a score of 31-26. Neither has been back since.