Atlanta Falcons blow the Super Bowl

The Atlanta Falcons led the Super Bowl 28-3. Late in the fourth quarter, they had an 8-point lead with minutes left and the ball just beyond the New England 20-yard line. A field goal seals the game and a Super Bowl title, and yet on second down Kyle Shanahan called a pass play and Matt Ryan took a devastating sack.

Of course New England deserves credit for the comeback, and they’ll get plenty as the New England dynasty and the Tom Brady legacy will be discussed ad nauseum. But the story of this game is the Atlanta collapse.

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Tom Brady and the New England Patriots destined for a Super Bowl return?

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The New England Patriots have been one of the dominant forces in the National Football League for almost two decades and the main reason for their consistency at the top has been down to Tom Brady’s ability at the quarterback position.

When the Patriots selected Brady with the 199th pick in the 2000 NFL Draft, nobody expected the former Michigan man to break into the starting roster let alone enjoy an illustrious career at the top level. During his time at Gillette Stadium, Brady has won four Super Bowl rings, three Super Bowl MVP awards and 11 Pro Bowl selections – achievements that show just how impressive he has been for the franchise. Read the rest of this entry »

Patriots linebacker Jerod Mayo and Old Spice working to end “overspraying epidemic”

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There’s a war going on that you may not even know about. We hear a lot about world events like missing Malaysian Airlines Flight 370, Syria and the Middle East. But one thing we don’t hear about is the overspraying epidemic that exists for 75% of guys.

Patriots All-Pro linebacker Jerod Mayo and Old Spice have teamed up to teach men how to scent responsibly and stop this epidemic the way Mayo stopped Ravens tight end Dennis Pitta in the 2013 AFC Championship.

“I’m actually on my way now to educate young guys at Boston University to teach them how to scent responsibly,” said Mayo, concern evident in his voice.

“They know how to drive responsibly, and do other things responsibly. It’s all about scenting responsibly in 2014. I’m very excited to help end the overspraying epidemic that’s happening now.”

One reason the problem has reached epidemic levels is ignorance; 68% of guys admit that no one had ever showed them how to apply body spray properly.

The first step is acceptance — realizing that you have an overspraying problem and then taking the necessary steps to move forward.

Mayo, Captain of the Patriots defense, is here to call out your defensive spray audible.

“There’s some rules you have to abide by. First off, it starts with a shower. You have to take a shower with your Old Spice gel. That helps gets the pores open so you can put on the Old Spice Refresh Body Spray. But the thing about Refresh is that you don’t need too much of it.”

Read the full interview here.

Sour grapes from Bill Belichick

Gregg Doyel makes some excellent points in his recent column, and his point about Bill Belichick’s comments about Wes Welker are echoed in part by Brian Billick in the video above.

Belichick tried to call out Welker as a dirty player, but the tape and the circumstances make his claim ridiculous. The bottom line here is that Belichick outsmarted himself by letting Welker go and trying to replace him with Danny Amendola. The experiment failed miserably, and he had to watch Welker help Peyton Manning to a record-setting season, capped off by an easy win over the Patriots in the AFC Championship Game. Belichick comes across as very bitter here. Even pathetic.

NFL Championship Game Free Picks

AFC Championship Game: Patriots vs. Broncos, 3:00PM ET
After the Broncos hung on to beat the Chargers last Sunday in the Divisional round, oddsmakers opened the line for the AFC title game at Denver -6.5, which immediately drew New England bettors. The line quickly dropped to Denver -4.5 but has since been bet back up to 5, indicating that books are receiving good two-way action on today’s game.

All of that aside, the Patriots have accomplished remarkable feats this year despite losing Rob Gronkowski, Vince Wilfork, Brandon Spikes, Tommy Kelly, Aaron Hernandez and Wes Welker since the start of the offseason. It’s a testament to Bill Belichick’s ability to plan around his strengths and attack opponents’ weaknesses that the Pats are once again back in the AFC title game. That said, the Patriots might finally face their end, ironically at the hands of Peyton Manning, whom they have bested plenty over the past decade.

If Denver can stop LeGarrette Blount, which is no easy task, especially since they too are depleted defensively due to injuries, and force Brady to work outside the numbers, then the Broncos could flip the script on Belichick. It sounds insane for Denver to put the ball in Brady’s hands but New England, in its latest rebirth, is a team that plays power football and uses play-action to stretch defenses vertically. Take away Brady’s ability to use the middle of the field to get the ball to Julian Edelman or Danny Amendola and the Broncos may turn this thing into a track meet.

Again, Belichick has done amazing things with his defenses, including using rookie Jamie Collins as a moveable chess piece in last week’s win over the Colts. But tight end Julius Thomas didn’t play in the first meeting between these two teams, which gives Belichick one more weapon to worry about. While it’s tempting to take the points with a red-hot Patriots team (if not the smart thing based on the value that the point spread offers), I like the Broncos.
FREE PICK: Broncos -5.

NFC Championship Game: 49ers vs. Seahawks, 6:30PM ET
Perhaps no team remaining in the playoff field is playing better than the Niners, whom have put together impressive back-to-back wins against the Packers and Panthers. This would be a perfect time to wax poetically about how difficult it is to win three-straight road games in the postseason but if any team is build to win on the road, it’s San Fran. First and foremost they play outstanding defense, their physical, they can pound the ball on the ground, and Colin Kaepernick’s ability to test the edge gives pause to even the most aggressive defensive coordinators.

But obviously San Francisco will meet its perfect match tonight in Seattle, which too plays outstanding defense, can run the ball and is just as physical is its counterpart – if not more physical. Pete Carroll’s hybrid front often gives opponents fits and nobody plays the Cover 3 better than the Hawks, who are tough to beat outside the numbers. Russell Wilson is also a versatile threat who forces defenses to adjust to his mobility.

So who offers the most value? Honestly, it’s the Niners, who are 3.5-point underdogs. One would expect this game to come down to a field goal based on how evenly matched these two teams are, although I don’t view the game that way.

I admit that this is more of a hunch than anything, but I believe Kaepernick will struggle today. Carolina gave him trouble for most of the first half last week in Carolina and Seattle will be even tougher on him today. The Panthers problem is that they couldn’t reach pay dirt twice in the first half when they had the ball at the goal line. And one thing that has separated Seattle and San Francisco in the previous three meetings is execution inside the red zone. The Hawks have made 11 trips inside the red zone versus San Francisco in the past three meetings, averaging 5.9 points in those three games. The Niners, meanwhile, averaged 2.6 points in 10 trips. Even though Wilson has struggled for nearly a month, I’ll take him in the red zone tonight over Kaepernick, who has had his fair share of issues in Seattle. While the Niners settle for field goals (much like they did a week ago in the first half against the Panthers), I expect the Hawks to eventually pull away with touchdowns.
FREE PICK: Seahawks -3.5.

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