The Gillette Stadium soundtrack during TV timeouts is ripped from a 1980s middle school dance, but somehow it fits. As The Outfield wails that they don’t wanna lose your love tonight, Rick Astley swears he’s never gonna give you up and The Knack thumps out an ode to their Sharona, it can feel as if the New England Patriots have been playing the same playoff game here for 30 or 40 years.
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The Patriots moved on to their sixth consecutive AFC title game on Saturday, but their performance against the Texans was a bit too uneven.
Three scores, three different ways. Patriots running back Dion Lewis became the first player in NFL history to score rushing, receiving and kickoff return touchdowns in a playoff game.
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Why the Falcons will win: Quarterback Matt Ryan, the league’s presumptive MVP, can match Rodgers throw for throw. In his past nine games, Ryan has thrown 22 touchdown passes and three interceptions.
The Falcons’ entire pass offense will be a matchup nightmare for the Packers, whose mediocre defensive secondary has been perpetually limited by injury. The Packers don’t have a lead cornerback to match up on receiver Julio Jones, let alone the other 12 players that caught touchdown passes from Ryan this season (an NFL single-season record). The Packers’ defensive options will be limited.
Their blitz was not effective Sunday against the Cowboys; Dak Prescott completed seven of eight passes against it for 108 yards and two touchdowns. Ryan was great against the Seahawks’ blitz on Saturday, completing 10 of 13 throws for 154 yards. He’ll get his on championship Sunday.