MACON, Georgia (41NBC/WMGT) – Who would have ever believed the Atlanta Falcons will be getting ready for the NFC Championship game?
I thought this team was awful in the preseason and then awful in the first week of the season against Tampa Bay. But then look what happened.
The concerns over the wide receivers with Roddy White gone were unfounded, as others emerged to give Matt Ryan the most options he’s ever had. Tevin Coleman stayed healthy and complimented Devonte Freeman. Don’t underestimate Coleman’s contributions to this team. Alex Mack joined the offensive line and stopped the revolving door at center. Ryan finally had protection, instead of worrying about winding up in a body cast. And the defense… wow. What a surprise. The emergence of Vic Beasley, Grady Jarrett and even Jalen Collins in their second seasons – and the surprising good work of rookies like Keanu Neal, De’Vondre Campbell, Deion Jones and Brian Poole. These last two drafts for the Falcons have created a defense that is almost… almost championship caliber.
Now, this week that defense must stop Aaron Rodgers, who… is… a… beast! Rodgers is playing out of his mind and the game against Dallas on Sunday was one of the best you will ever see. Atlanta’s defense must contain Rodgers. That’s the same thing they are saying in Green Bay about what the Packers’ defense must do against Ryan. This simply may come down to a battle of two outstanding quarterbacks. And – maybe that’s the way it should be.
Think about the four quarterbacks left in the playoffs – Aaron Rodgers, Tom Brady, Ben Roethlisberger and Matt Ryan. Those four have combined for seven Super Bowl titles. Of course, it’s really just those three. Ryan has only two wins in the postseason in his career, but he’s the one going for his first championship. Ryan is the one who must prove he belongs with those other four by winning a Super Bowl. Ryan is the one who must prove he is the best quarterback in the NFL this season by winning against someone who is really, really good.
With all that is going for the Falcons, to give them a legit chance at being champions, a lot of this does depend on Matt Ryan. Four years ago against San Francisco, he threw a big interception. He can’t do that this week. Ryan may not have to play perfect, but against a team with a quarterback like Aaron Rodgers, he’s got to be – at least – close to perfect.
While I’m worried like every Falcons fan out there, I think Matt Ryan is going to do it. Yes, the Falcons are going to win on Sunday. They are going to the Super Bowl. Maybe if we keep saying that, we’ll actually believe it’s going to happen.