By Shaun Morash

Cold Open

The Blu-Ray Championship season video is being produced as I type this, highlighting “The Hail Mary,” and the “Strike to Cook.” Those plays in back to back weeks are legacy defining moments we will remember forever if and when Aaron Rodgers has his day in Canton years from now.

What we are seeing from Aaron Rodgers right now is much more than a quarterback getting hot and winning playoff games, what we are seeing is a legacy being cemented. In my 29 year of life I have NEVER witnessed a quarterback play this well. Now I am not saying he is a better all time player at the position than Tom Brady or even Peyton Manning, but right here, right now, Peyton Manning and Tom Brady have never looked this “magical.”

The Packers still have two huge hurdles to climb to get Rodgers ring number two, but it is hard now not to root for him to do it, who wants to remember these memorable moments as ones that didn’t matter in pursuit of a championship? Not me.

Ten Yard Gain

1- What did get lost in Aaron Rodgers magic was just how well Dak Prescott responded to adversity as he helped lead him team back from a 21-3 deficit Sunday. Down 18 points in his 1st ever playoff game, Dak could have panicked, especially since it appeared his head coach was. Instead he remained calm, cool, collected, and lead Dallas back. Prescott showed traits in his 1st season that we have not seen from Tony Romo in a decade.

2- Speaking of Tony Romo, the obsession that Jerry Jones continues to have with him is nauseating. In speaking with our affiliate 105.3 The Fan in Dallas on Tuesday, Jerry says that Tony Romo is capable of making all of the plays Aaron Rodgers did on Sunday, and said Romo will win a Super Bowl before his career was over. Tony Romo is an underappreciated warrior in reality, but Jerry Jones actually finds a way to make Romo unlikeable with comments like these.

3-Roger Goodell will not go to New England for the AFC Championship game, choosing instead to head to Atlanta for the 2nd time this post season. This of course struck a nerve with Patriots fans. I ask though, why would he go to New England? Goodell has done a lot of wrong as the commissioner of the NFL, how he handled Tom Brady and “deflategate” however, was not wrong. Brady obstructed an investigation by destroying his phone, yet Patriots fans seem to have the excuses why. Good for you Roger.

4- The Texans on Saturday Night still lost in blowout fashion, but gave any of us more of an interesting game to watch than we expected. In doing so, they may have provided the blue print to beat these Patriots. Any decent offense, with a decent quarterback, and receivers who catch passes would have beaten the Patriots with a similar defensive game plan on the other side. You know who has those tools? The Steelers.

5-If you look closely at the last 3 Seattle Seahawks drafts you will notice a common theme: not enough impact players. Due to that, and veterans from their championship team leaving each year it is now fair to ask, is their window closing? They will be bailed out next season by the fact their division will be rather weak. However, the Seahawks have now become a 9-7, 10- good team, as opposed to a 13-3 dominant team.

6- As I noted in last week’s Up The Gut, the Atlanta Falcons continue to be the biggest “wild card” in the entire post season. They can thump anybody, they may even be the most balanced team left playing, but do we trust this organization that has always given us let downs when we count on them the most?

7- Antonio Brown’s “Facebook Live” video was about as selfish and immature as anything you will see from an NFL player all season. While the talk of the offseason still may center around Odell Beckham Jr punching a wall or going on a boat, any of those incidents pale in comparison from not being mature enough to realize running a live video of social media for 17 minutes after the coach and quarterback make it clear to stay off social media is about as low as it gets for Brown.

8-Travis Kelce blaming the refs following the Chiefs loss Saturday night was ironic and funny in so many ways. I am always one to defend a “blaming of the refs,” as I feel they either insert themselves too much or not enough in big games and big plays. There is never a middle ground. Yet somehow, the one time they make the very obvious and right call on a big play they get criticized. You could probably look back at 8 plays in that game that were either missed calls horribly, or calls that should never have been made. Those would have made for a much stronger argument for Kelce, not a hold as obvious as I am fat.

9- The NFL ratings, in particular Sunday, were as good as could be. In fact the Sunday Night game did such a good rating the thought is we will see more Sunday Night playoff games going forward. For me, this now makes sense to add an extra playoff team to each conference. If Sunday Night works for TV, this would allow us to play a 1pm eastern Saturday game and 8:20pm Eastern Sunday Night game on Wild Card weekend. Sign me up for that right now.

10- The Cowboys, Giants, and Eagles may be getting the biggest off season gift before free agency and the draft even arrive. The Washington Redskins will reportedly interview Rob Ryan for their defensive coordinator job. Rob Ryan burns his defenses into the groun and teams lick their chops game planning for them. What in the world is Washington thinking even interviewing him? If they hire him, Carson Wentz, Dak Prescott, and Eli Manning would be great fantasy plays when Washington week comes up on their schedules.

My Picks

I was 3-1 last week, bringing my playoff record to 3-5. My overall record stands dead even at 26-26-5. (I was 31-30-1 at this point last season) For this week:

Packers + 4.5 @ Falcons: The Championship Blu-Ray is already being produced as I noted earlier. The Hail Mary and the throw to cook in back to back weeks show that when it comes to comparing roster talent there is something to be said for “magic.” Magic is exactly what Aaron Rodgers has going for him.

For bother quarterbacks I would say this game is “legacy defining” to the winner. While I don’t think a loss in any way will hurt Aaron Rodgers historically down the line, it could do so for Matt Ryan. The winner though will be thought of as totally differently. If Rodgers continues this pace and brings the Pack back to the Super Bowl he goes from just a current great quarterback to a legitimate all-time great quarterback. Matt Ryan will go from us questioning him when discussing top quarterbacks to absolutely belonging.

In the end I think the Falcons do what Atlanta franchises typically do, they break their fans hearts. In previous championship games to close out stadiums, the 1970 49ers and the 2002 Eagles both sent their fans home unhappy. Taking the points is the smart play, but I think the Packers win the game out right on top of it.

Patriots -6 vs Steelers: The Steelers were the AFC playoff team best suited to go into Foxboro and beat New England. They man do that, especially is Le’Veon Bell can’t be tackled and is keeping Tom Brady off the field. However, this game screams that everyone is “zigging” on the Steelers here, so I will “zag.”

The Patriots are still the Patriots, and only a select few have been able to beat them in Foxboro. I believe the Antonio Brown video showed me real immaturity from the Steelers. I think you need to be mentally tough, and mentally mature to beat two of the all-time greats in their building with a trip to the Super Bowl on the line.

Sooner or later the Patriots run of dominance with Brady has to end, maybe that is next year, but this year I just still don’t see it. I don’t imagine this game will be a blowout, but I do think the Patriots win by a touchdown which gives you the cover here.

My preseason pick was Packers over the Chiefs in the Super Bowl, my Championship picks have the Packers still going, but the Patriots will join them in Houston.

Football Food of the Week

Waffled Mozzarella Sticks: I tested out the theory on these this past Sunday during the Packers-Cowboys game and the results are in: WIN!

Purchase your favorite brand of mozzarella cheese from the dairy section at your grocer. Cut the Mozzarella into long cubes, roll those pieces in flour, dip them in egg, then roll them in Italian seasoned bread crumb. (Buy enough mozzarella for the amount of sticks you want, based on the amount of people you are entertaining.)

You will also need Belgium waffle maker, I know I know how stuck up of me. In reality they are not that expensive, at a store like Target for instance. They are also worth the investment, trust me, breakfast in your house will be life changing.

Back on track, heat the waffle maker up to “medium,” or between medium and dark. Spray both sides with non-stick spray or oil. Then place 3 pieces at a time in the waffle maker and press the maker down. Wait about 2-3 minutes, or when the waffle maker light flashes “ready,”

And pull the mozzarella sticks out. They will come out oozing with cheese, with the Italian seasoning now being in a tasty waffle texture, rather than the normal fried feel to them.

I have a pic of them on my Instagram from last Sunday @MrazCBS for reference. They are the perfect creative treat for Championship Sunday.

Thanks for reading as always, you can follow me on Twitter and Instagram @MrazCBS.

 

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