Tom Brady. Ben Roethlisberger. Aaron Rodgers. Matt Ryan. All four remaining teams have a great QB, but they’ve also now lost their advantage at the position. So who has the best help?
Judging those decisions — even though we directly see how they play out on the field — is also tough. It’s too easy to criticize a coach who goes for it on fourth-and-short and fails, even if the play he calls manages to scheme somebody open. And likewise, a coach who punts in a situation calling for aggressiveness, as Pete Carroll did last week, might push the opposition back to the 1-yard line and see them march down the field anyway. You have to separate the decision to try a conversion or kick a field goal from the actual way the game subsequently played out, which isn’t our nature as fans, analysts or humans.
It’s the same formula as last week: scoring. The Falcons averaged an NFL-best 33.8 points per game during the regular season, including a 35-point average at home. Then they went out last week and put up 36 against what was supposed to be a reputable Seahawks defense. The Falcons have scored touchdowns on their opening drives in each of the past seven games. Some have been pleading coach Dan Quinn to put the ball in the hands of the high-powered offense if the Falcons win the toss, but deferring certainly hasn’t slowed them down. Yes, the Packers also reached 30-plus points the last time the teams played, but the Falcons are more than capable of scoring 40 if necessary. The only thing that might slow them down is the status of top wide receiver Julio Jones, who aggravated a foot sprain and will see limited practice time heading into Sunday’s game. He says he’ll be ready to play Sunday.