And then there were two.
After a surprisingly boring slate of Conference Championship games, the matchup in Super Bowl LI has been set between the Atlanta Falcons and New England Patriots.
No NFL teams seemed to finish the regular season as strong as these two, so their title game berths do not come as a surprise. New England has won its last nine games, including tonights beatdown of the Pittsburgh Steelers, while Atlanta has reigned victorious in six straight contests, including today’s absolute rout of the Green Bay Packers.
Looking back at the year in review, it’s interesting to think about the fact that the Seattle Seahawks were the only team to beat both of these groups during all of 2016. In Week 6, the Seahawks took down the Falcons at home by a score of 26-24. In Week 9, they travelled to Foxboro, getting revenge on the Patriots by a full touchdown in a 31-24 victory.
If the Patriots win the Super Bowl, Tom Brady will have lost one game this entire season.— Mike Bar (@SeahawkScout) January 23, 2017
That game was against the Seattle Seahawks.
The common denominator between both of these wins? A healthy Earl Thomas.
While Seattle sputtered to a loss in the Georgia Dome last weekend, the fact that they defeated both of these championship-caliber groups makes the season-ending injury to their All World free safety hurt that much more.
On the flip side, looking at this from a positive perspective shows that, while many believe that the recent run of dominance by the Seahawks has come to a close, this roster is still capable of competing at the highest level.
Reaching the Super Bowl always lies in the intersection of a Venn Diagram with one side representing a dominant team and the other insane injury luck. Seattle had very little luck in the injury department in 2016, with their quarterback, free safety, and second wide receiver all being ravaged by health problems.
If the stars align in 2017, I see no reason by the Seahawks can’t make yet another playoff push for a Lombardi trophy.
In the meantime, rest assured that the team you love beat the Super Bowl LI champions.