It seems ages ago that teams arrived for training camp and the first preseason games were underway. After seventeen long, but welcomed weeks of regular season and a couple playoff games as well, we are down to just four vying for two precious spots in this year’s Super Bowl. Here are five important notes in Sunday’s games.
Five Factors That Could Decide Super Bowl Teams
5 – Playoff experience
There is a big difference between a regular season game and a playoff game. Any mistake in postseason becomes magnified, and any great play becomes even more so. The Steelers, Packers and Patriots have much more experience in these big games than the Falcons do. Football is always looking for new heroes, and whether one can emerge from the Falcons against the experienced Packers will need to be a major storyline.
4 – Home field advantage
When Patriots coach Bill Belichick was asked if home field helps, his response was: “Go ask Dallas and Kansas City.” It is the players on the field who win or lose the games, but surely there are other factors. At Gillette Stadium there will assuredly be plenty of terrible towels, just as there will be cheeseheads at the Georgia Dome. Do fans really have that much of an affect?
3 – Quarterback strength and flexibility
All great quarterbacks still need a strong offensive line. However, what a quarterback can do when the protection drops can make or break a game. It can be arguably said that four of the best quarterbacks in the NFL are playing Sunday, three of them with oodles of experience. Each has their own style, their own strengths and weaknesses. It will be a test of quarterback preparation against opposing coaches’ game planning that will decide the outcome.
2 – That little yellow flag
Any bad call by a referee is even worse in a playoff game. Assuming the games will be as close as bookies have predicted, penalty flags could become a difference-maker. Few things drive fans insane as poor and missed flagged plays, especially in close games. The NFL has made strides but not yet perfected the referees making the right call at the right time. Hopefully this will not be a factor.
1 – Physical and mental preparation
Nothing creates a stir as when a star player goes down to injury. Coaching, backups, training can lessen the damage, but football is a rough sport and everything can’t be planned for. The health of each team will play an important role. Mentally, players need to come in focused. Each goes through rough spots throughout the year, but missed tackles, fumbles, interceptions, can all weigh on one’s mind. A player’s ability to re-focus will be essential, and the aforementioned experience will play a part.
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