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Sports Medley: 2015 NFL Playoffs Conference Finals

by Tony Medley

Mea Culpa: This is the worst year of prognosticating I’ve ever endured.  But I was influenced by watching the inept AFC teams battle one another in the playoffs. Except for New England, all the good teams are in the NFC, namely Seattle, Green Bay, Dallas, Detroit, Arizona, and San Francisco, and those were the teams I watched throughout the year.  Since I hadn’t seen much of the AFC, I made my judgments on the playoff games.  Although at the start of the playoffs it was pretty clear to me that the Super Bowl would be Seattle-New England, when Baltimore beat Pittsburgh and Indianapolis beat Cincinnati and Denver fairly easily, I gave those games a halo effect and thought they might have a chance against New England.  The AFC playoff teams, Pittsburgh, Baltimore, Indianapolis, Cincinnati, and Denver are on a par with the weakest NFC playoff team, Carolina, which lost more games that it won in the NFC. To my credit, on the NFC with teams I had seen play many times, I’m 5-0.

Last weekend’s games:

New England 45-Indianapolis 7: An embarrassing rout, this game showed how weak the AFC is and there’s no sense in spending any time on it. The deflating of the football and the reaction of Coach Bill Belichick and quarterback Tom Brady will be covered in another column.

Seattle 28-Green Bay 22: Talking heads are calling this a great game. A great game it was not. Aaron Rodgers said after the game, “We were the better team.” The better team they were not. Talking heads said Russell Wilson played a horrible game. He did not play a great game, but horrible it was not. He targeted Jermaine Kearse five times with four interceptions. Two were perfect passes that Kearse muffed into the hands of Green Bay defenders. The interception in the end zone was underthrown and Wilson’s fault. But if Kearse makes the two catches on the muffed passes they result in a first down on one and a very long gain on the other and it’s a different game. Green Bay’s weak offense was dominated by Seattle’s terrific defense. Time and again they were given gifts by Seattle but couldn’t convert. Green Bay’s offense played almost the entire game in Seattle territory due to the turnovers, yet all they could get was one touchdown and five field goals. They only got six points on the five turnovers. After the Green Bay interception with less than five minutes remaining and a 19-7 lead, the Green Bay interceptor went to the ground, giving himself up at the Green Bay 40 instead of running into Seattle territory and getting close to a game-clinching field goal. Instead of trying to move the ball, they tried three runs and were forced to punt. Seattle drove down for a quick touchdown and then recovered an onside kick and drove down for another quick touchdown. So leading 19-7 with 2:09 left, Green Bay was behind 44 seconds later. That’s not the “better team,” Aaron. Seattle won because it is the best team in football with one of the best defenses in history and a well-rounded offense with a good scrambling passer and a great runner. The only thing that keeps it from being considered on a par with the ’74-’79 Steelers and the ’62-’67 Packers (yes, Virginia, there was an NFL before the Super Bowl era), is the lack of a deep receiving threat. They made a huge mistake getting rid of Golden Tate, who became the Lions’ leading receiver. With Tate, they would be close to the dynasties mentioned above.