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FOOTBALL FREAK: Elite quarterbacks remain

It’s no coincidence the four quarterbacks left in the tournament are four of the elite quarterbacks in the NFL this season. 

Journal Pioneer NFL columnist John Turner.

The Falcons’ Matt Ryan is going to win the regular-season MVP award; the Patriots’ Tom Brady is Tom Brady; the Steelers’ Ben Roethlisberger has two rings and knows how to win in the post-season, and the Packers’ Aaron Rodgers is the best quarterback on the planet right now.
How about that throw with 12 seconds left on the clock by Rodgers? 
The difficulty level of that throw, moving to his left, throwing across his body and throwing it 40 yards into that small window is just not human.
These four guys can throw the ball, and give their teams a great chance to win late in the fourth quarter on Sunday. They lead their teams into championship weekend, and are one of the big reasons why they are only one game away from Super Bowl LI.

Stat of the week
Rightfully so, The Freak has been very hard on kickers all season, but they need a pat on the back after great performances on Sunday. How about Mason Crosby, with two very long clutch field goals? 
If he misses the first one (56 yards), Dallas wins the game as they would have taken over at mid-field on the missed kick.
The Cowboys’ Dan Bailey kicked the game-tying field goal like it was a pre-season game. He stood over it, and pounded it right down the middle of the uprights. 
The Steelers’ Chris Boswell kicked a playoff-record six field goals against Kansas City, which led Pittsburgh to victory.

Bonehead play of the week
After dropping a pass that hit him square in the hands, Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce pushes the Steelers’ Russ Cockrell, and takes an unnecessary roughness penalty. After the game, he blasted the ref for an obvious holding penalty on James Harrison that negated the tying two-point conversion.

Packers vs. Falcons
Wow! This game has a shootout written all over it. The Falcons average 35 points, and the Packers 30 points.
Both teams have below-average defences, and it may come down to who has the ball last.  Ryan and Rodgers are the two hottest quarterbacks in the NFL, and this should be an epic offensive battle.
ARod is hoping his top receiver, Jordy Nelson, can play, which can only help. With the best pass-blocking offensive line in football, this should keep NFL sack leader Vic Beasley away from Rodgers.
In the end, the offences make all the plays until finally late in the fourth quarter, when the Packers’ D make a big play to seal the win for Green Bay, 38-35.
Steelers vs. Patriots
The Pats and Steelers played back in October in Pittsburgh, but things have changed a lot since that Patriots’ win. 
New England had Gronk, and he was the difference maker in that particular game while the Steelers had back-up Landry Jones under centre as Roethlisberger was recovering from knee surgery.
The cold weather isn’t going to affect the Steelers, and they are as hot as any team in the league, which holds more value than you think. It will be difficult to shut down Pittsburgh’s offence, with Antonio Brown and Le’Veon Bell and they will need touchdowns instead of field goals when in the red zone.
Coach Belichick will devise a game plan to control Bell, which might mean single coverage on Brown. Brady had his one bad game last week, and hasn’t thrown a pick against the Steelers since 2005. 
This game will come down to who wins the fourth quarter. The Patriots haven’t played against a great quarterback for a long time – only one this season was Russell Wilson, who beat them in Foxboro – and it will show on Sunday. 
In a classic game, Pittsburgh upsets the Patriots 27-24.
Last week: 4-for-4.
Playoffs: 7-for-8.
Season: 88-for-127.

John Turner is a Summerside schoolteacher and coaches youth football. His column appears every Saturday during the NFL season. Feel free to e-mail questions and comments to

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