A few weeks ago, in my Week 7 Picks column, I lamented, among other things, sports media ding-a-lings calling that week's Seattle-Pittsburgh game a "...rematch of Super Bowl forty," despite the fact that only one player from that game remains in the league.
Tonight's matchup is between New England and Atlanta, so you can probably guess where I'm going with this.
Is this a rematch of the game that everyone still remembers for 28-3?
Well, unlike the Seattle-Pittsburgh SB, which was over 15 years ago, only five seasons have passed since 28-3. Besides Matt Ryan, there are still a few players left on both rosters from the big game, offense and defense, and including BOTH LONG SNAPPERS!
Having said all that, no, this is not a rematch. It's not for a championship of any kind. There's no trophy. There's no glory. There's no Tom Brady. Plus, it's a Thursday Night game, which is barely a real game at all.
Still, I know that even though it's not really a rematch (no matter how much sports media-types want you to think it is), it's difficult for anyone who's been a football fan for more than five minutes to look at this game and not at least THINK about that game. If I'm being honest, any time I even hear Matt Ryan's name, the first thing I think is "28-3." I'll bet a lot of people do that.
Frankly, it makes me sad.
Matt Ryan seems like a nice guy. He's really good at what he does. I haven't heard anything negative about him. He does commercials with Stone Cold Steve Austin and Ice-T. Unfortunately, he's the face of one of the most memorable collapses in sports history.
And it's not fair.
I mean, all he did in that game was go out and torch New England's defense, staking his team to a 21-3 halftime lead, before adding another TD to make it 28-3 in the third quarter. New England then mounted a comeback for the ages, but Ryan had little to do with that. He lost a key fumble, but it was as a result of a missed block, on a questionable play call. Then, late in the fourth quarter, after New England had pulled to within eight points, Ryan made a couple of great throws, marching his team all the way to New England's 22 yard line, a mere 40-yard field goal try from making it a two-score game, and essentially salting away the victory for Atlanta.
For some reason, Atlanta called a pass play, and Ryan was sacked. A field goal would be more difficult, but makeable. On another called pass play, Atlanta was called for holding, moving the ball back another 10 yards, and forcing Atlanta to punt.
The rest is history.
Kyle Shanahan was the Offensive Coordinator for Atlanta in that game. Kyle Shanahan called all of those stupid pass plays. Kyle Shanahan should be the face of that loss.
Matt Ryan still has plenty of good football left in him. Atlanta is a mess. I'd love to see him on another team, a team with a good supporting cast on offense, a good defense, and good coaching. I'd love to see Matt Ryan get another shot at glory.
Just don't send him to San Francisco.
Thursday, November 18th
New England at Atlanta
Of all the highly-touted rookie QBs this season, Mac Jones has quietly become the best-looking player out of the bunch. I couldn't say that he's better than the rest, or more talented, but he certainly is the luckiest. Not that anything he's accomplished this season has been a fluke. When I say he's lucky, it's because he wasn't drafted by the likes of Jacksonville, New York Gangrene, or Chicago. More importantly, he's lucky because he was drafted by New England.
Mac Jones is surrounded by a good supporting cast on offense. New England has a very good defense. Mac Jones has Bill Belichick as his Head Coach, and Josh McDaniels as his Offensive Coordinator. He has everything that Matt Ryan deserves.
Mac Jones should be unfazed by the hype surrounding this game, because it has nothing to do with him. My only concern for Jones tonight is that it's his first time playing an NFL game on short rest.
New England is the better team, so they should win this one comfortably.
Winner: New England