It'll be the Falcons and Patriots in Super Bowl LI on FOX on Feb. 5. Atlanta dusted the Packers on Sunday in the NFC Championship Game, then New England followed suit with a rout of the Steelers.
Skip Bayless and Shannon Sharpe kicked off Monday's episode of "Undisputed" with their breakdown of the games. Here are eight of their biggest takeaways.
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Tom Brady proved he’s still the best
The Patriots quarterback was a sparkling 32-of-42 for 384 yards, three touchdowns and no interceptions in New England's 36-17 win over Pittsburgh. And all that without a superstar wide receiver or the services of the injured Rob Gronkowski. It was proof positive to Skip — who called the game a "masterpiece" — that there is still no one better in the game.
"Tom Brady at age 39 proved he’s still the best quarterback in pro football," Bayless said. "He’s better than Aaron Bleeping Rodgers, or Ben Roethlisberger or even Matty Ice."
We'll get a glimpse of that last comparison soon enough.
The Steelers should've leaned on Le'Veon Bell while they could
Bell was injured in the second quarter of Sunday's game and did not return. Before he left, Shannon didn't like some of Pittsburgh's play-calling, which went away from its all-world running back.
On a 3rd-and-1 at their own 31 on their opening drive, the Steelers threw a deep ball to Sammie Coates that fell incomplete instead of handing off to Bell.
"Just turn around, hand the ball to Le'Veon Bell, stay on the field," Sharpe said. "At some point in time, you turn around and say, 'OK, Le'Veon, you’re the best back in football, go get me a yard.'"
Steven SenneAP photo
A big weakness came back to haunt the Steelers
As great as Brady was, Pittsburgh's mediocre pass defense didn't help matters. The Steelers ranked just 17th there during the regular season and were worst in the playoffs in that category among AFC teams. It made for a brutal recipe.
"What's been the Achilles heel for the Pittsburgh Steelers the entire season? Pass defense," Sharpe said. "And it reared its head."
Shannon picked the Falcons to win the NFC title game, and they did it with ease, cruising to a 44-21 victory. Matt Ryan had one of the best games by a quarterback in playoff history as Atlanta jumped out to a 17-0 lead and never looked back. Throw in some Packers miscues and there was a simple way for Sharpe to sum it up.
"The Packers ran into a buzzsaw," he said. "Matt Ryan has been on another level."
There are many reasons not to blame Aaron Rodgers for Sunday's loss. Among them: He is under immense pressure to be fantastic every time out to carry an injury-depleted team with a shaky defense.
"Aaron Rodgers has to be historically great every opportunity because he doesn’t have a defense that can ever help him out," Sharpe said. Rodgers threw for 287 yards and three touchdowns and yet, Sharpe said, is "going home after getting shellacked."
Skip added: "He was not that (historically great) guy" on Sunday.
Curtis ComptonAtlanta Journal-Constitution via AP
The Packers ran out of magic
After a divisional round win over the Cowboys full of I-can't-believe-that-just-happened moments, the bill came due for the Packers on Sunday, Skip said. Mason Crosby, maker of two clutch field goals last week, missed one this time. Rodgers wasn't as sharp. A costly early fumble killed what looked like a touchdown drive in the making. And on and on.
"Right on schedule the Green Bay Packers turned into what I thought they would’ve turned into (last week) at Jerry World — pumpkins," Bayless said. "They left all of their magical, mystical luck at Jerry World."
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The Falcons should be favored in the Super Bowl
There are plenty of reasons to admire this Atlanta team that is absolutely loaded with offensive weapons. But the public's perception still favors New England, as evidenced by the opening line in Vegas being set at Patriots -3. Skip doesn't get it.
"Somehow New England is a three-point favorite in this game," Bayless said. "I don’t know how. Those people in Vegas must be nuts."