Different pressures for NFL's 4For Colin Kaepernick and Jim Harbaugh, it could be the first of several trips together to championship weekend. For Mike Smith and Matt Ryan, it could be their first and only.
By: Jessy Sandhu, The Jamestown Sun
For Colin Kaepernick and Jim Harbaugh, it could be the first of several trips together to championship weekend. For Mike Smith and Matt Ryan, it could be their first and only.
Over in the AFC, Tom Brady and Bill Belichick are going through their regular routine this time of the year as they attempt to return to the Super Bowl.
Ray Lewis will be dancing and preaching his way through the tunnel again this Sunday, but will it be for the last time? Or, will he have one more opportunity to display his moves?
This weekend is important for so many, for many different reasons.
Is the AFC Championship and a Super Bowl victory more important for Brady and the Patriots, than it is for Lewis and the Ravens? If it were just about championships, then this Sunday and Feb. 3 would mean the same to both.
But we are not talking just about championships when it comes to Brady and Lewis. The conversation is much bigger than that. We are talking about having their names included in the conversation as the greatest ever at their respective positions.
Brady desperately needs and wants to win a fourth ring. Isn’t it funny to hear of a player with three rings desperate for another? That’s what sets him apart from all other quarterbacks in the league today.
Lewis led a Ravens team that had no offense in 2000 to win a ring and has dominated his entire career, but the Ravens haven’t been to the dance since.
At the moment, many NFL historians would rank Lewis in the top five when it comes to the greatest linebackers of all time, but not the greatest. If Lewis can lead his team to another championship, I’d argue that he is the greatest linebacker of all time.
None of the other greats had to lead a team like he had to early in his career. There was some offense on the other side of the ball for greats such as Lawrence Taylor. Today’s Ravens team has firepower and the excuse of no offense is out the window. Lewis’ legacy is on the line.
Brady on the other hand can’t afford to go to another Super Bowl and come out on the losing end. If they beat the Ravens, the pressure will be at an all time high. How can he be compared to quarterbacks who won four rings and never lost on the biggest stage?
When it’s all said and done and if it takes Brady six, or seven, trips to the Super Bowl to win four, there’s no way he can be compared to Terry Bradshaw, or Joe Montana who both went on to win four out of four Super Bowls?
You may be able to make the argument that the Patriots were a better dynasty than those Steelers, but there’s no legitimacy in arguing that Brady was the best ever. Four out of six sounds much better for Brady’s argument than four out of seven (if he should make it to six, or seven).
Throw in the fact that Brady has a few more attempts at the Lombardi and that this is Lewis’ last chance, and Sunday’s game in New England is much more important for Ray Lewis than it is for Tom Brady.
In the NFC, the pressure is much higher on Matt Ryan and Mike Smith than it is for Jim Harbaugh and Colin Kaepernick.
Ryan and the Falcons escaped embarrassment last Sunday as Pete Carroll’s attempt to “freeze” the kicker back-fired.
The team in San Francisco is set in regards to personnel and roster spots. Regardless of Sunday’s outcome, the 49ers will not look much different next season.
If the Falcons lose to San Francisco the way the Packers did, there could be many changes coming to Atlanta.
Taking five years to win your first playoff game and following it up with a loss to Kaepernick and the 49ers should engrave doubt in the minds of all of those in the Atlanta organization. It may sound ridiculous to some to get rid of the coaching staff, or some players for losing in the NFC Championship, but I’m pretty sure the expectations for the Falcons organization are much bigger than the NFC Championship.
This group of players and coaches has been together in Atlanta for a while now and their team hasn’t produced when it matters. A loss Sunday will confirm that it hasn’t been bad luck, or bad matchups. A loss at home to San Francisco will just reconfirm that this group just can’t get it done.
Enjoy Championship Weekend!
Jessy Sandhu is the founder of www.fantasymoves.com. Reach him at email@example.com.