Pittman Prediction: Patriots and Falcons Move On To Superbowl
I don't think I would have picked the Falcons to beat the white-hot play of Green Bay Packer's QB Aaron Rodgers without the new knowledge that Rodgers and many other Packers, are battling flu symptoms. The return of a maimed WR Jordy Nelson or not, It won't be enough. Give Ty Montgomery credit for filling in as RB this season but he's no DeVonta Freeman who plays RB for the Atlanta Falcons.
Influenza might be an opponent to ally with the already talented Falcons team (who are at home), which would be too tough to overcome even for the NFL's hottest team in the Packers.. Tough to imagine an also hot Falcons QB Matt Ryan (Boston College) with a defensive backfield of a nightmare in Julio Jones, a dominant running game and very good defense losing this one at home. I think it will be tight with Atlanta keeping a lead and then pulling away late.
Falcons 36 Packers 26
Pittsburgh comes to New England playing much better in the second half of the season, than the first. When they last played week 7, Steeler QB Ben Roethlisburger was not on the field and Patriots TE Rob Gronkowski was. Patriots dominated 27-16, but that was a long, long time ago in terms of the journeys of an NFL season. That being said, the Steelers defense is designed to stop the Baltimore Ravens, Cincinnati Bengals and big, strong running oriented offenses. The New England Patriots offense is only that when they want to be. Optimus Prime has nothing on the morphing abilities of the Tom Brady led offense who have not lost a game since Gronkowski went down with a back injury and was lost for the season.
The punishing running style of RB LeGarrette Blount, the return of the shifty, pass catching RB Dion Lewis, the emergence of WR Malcolm Mitchell, the acquisition of Arizona Cardinals former 1st Round draft, WR Michael Floyd, additional multi threats from RB James White, the imposing presence of veteran TE Martellus Bennett and the already advanced repoire with WR Chris Hogan are all at his disposal and I still haven't mentioned his other favorite target, WR Julian Edelman or trusty slot receiver Danny Amendola.
Brady is loaded for bear...Steelers, Falcons or Packers right now.
As for the other side of the ball, this Patriots defense is an under-reported top three in the NFL. Giving up just under 16 points per game, this is more impressive when one considers the fact that high scoring offenses like the Patriots normally give too many opportunities back to opposing offenses to boast of leading defensive numbers. Not this year, not this team and not this time. A very good Patriots secondary and decent pass rush should put the pressure on the league's best RB LeVeon Bell to do the heavy lifting.
That is not to say that Big Ben and #84 WR Antonio Brown won't have some decent statistics but throughout the year, the most impressive moments this team has had, are between the 20 yard lines. Roethlisburger passed in 14 games for almost the identical numbers as Tom Brady who played in only 12. Field Goals will not defeat the Patriots in Foxboro this evening. I'm afraid Pittsburgh will need to score north of 35, or go home and watch the Patriots represent the AFC in the Superbowl for the seventh time in Brady's sixteen healthy seasons.
New England 34 Pittsburgh 27