Waynesville football coach Brad Drehle and the Daily Guide's Derek Dueker pick who they believe will play for the Super Bowl and make a friendly wager
Because you haven't seen enough of these articles this week and really needed another one to be able to make an educated decision on who will win the AFC and NFC championship games on Sunday (please don't use this article to do any such thing; just use it as reading material while on the toilet or something), the Daily Guide's Derek Dueker and Waynesville football coach Brad Drehle picked who they believe will head to the Super Bowl and made a friendly wager.
Derek Dueker: Did you get all your research done this morning?
Brad Drehle: *laughs* No.
Derek: We aren't any experts here but I guess it's going to be a shootout Sunday possibly in both games. What do you think is going to happen on the AFC side?
Brad: It's hard to pick against the Patriots but when you've got somebody coming from Waynesville that's playing there with [linebacker] L.J. Fort and all that stuff and connections to [former Waynesville football] coach [Rick] Vernon, it'd sure be nice to see him have success. So, my head may say pick the Patriots but my heart is going to say pick L.J. and the Steelers.
Derek: How big of a margin do you think it could wind up being in that one?
Brad: I think it'll be closer than what everyone believes. Two things are going to come into that game: [New England quarterback] Tom Brady being the competitor he is. He's worked extra hard, I'm sure, in film study after having a bad week last week — his worst playoff performance — but the Steelers are a good defensive team. You've got to do some things to them and [QB] Ben Roethlisberger and the way they're able to control the clock with [running back] Le'Veon Bell. It should be a fun game. I think a field goal may be the difference.
Derek: What do you think the score will be in that one?
Derek: I have it Pats 31-29. You know, they're 4-0 against the Steelers at Gillette. But they've never played Big Ben and Le'Veon and [wide receiver] Antonio Brown. But I just don't know how you pick against the Pats at home in Gillette. But this could be the time that Ben gets his revenge on Brady.
Brad: I agree. And then the Steelers have had to deal with the Antonio Brown story this week, so where is their focus? Did that pull the locker room closer together and bring more focus or has it divided it? You won't know until the ball is kicked.
Derek: And [Patriot's coach] Bill Belichick, apparently, has sent some flu their way is what I've heard. But what about on the NFC side?
Brad: That's going to be a fun one. You talk about a shootout, that's the one I think could be a really high-scoring game. [Green Bay QB] Aaron Rodgers is one of the best ever and he's hot right now. But to pick against the Falcons at home and [Falcons' quarterback Matt] Ryan playing at home in front of his crowd, they played really well last week, and they've got a little bit better of a running game. So, if I had to pick one I think I would pick the Falcons in that one and I think that could be a touchdown game. I think that one could be a 35-28. I don't know any team could score 40 in that one.
Derek: I was worried we would pick the same way but we are going to pick against each other on both sides. Earlier in the year, I think, it was Falcons 33-32 or something like that. But they were without [LB] Clay Matthews, [WR] Randall Cobb, [WR/RB] Ty Montgomery and [tight end] Jared Cook. So, I went ahead and picked the Packers. I still think Matt Ryan is the MVP and could win. But it was a one-point game and Green Bay was missing all those guys back earlier when they weren't playing as well, so I wound up picking the Packers 39 Falcons 35. So, what do we do if you win here?
Brad: I hadn't thought about it in those terms. I didn't know we were putting something on it. What are you thinking? I don't have anything Patriots, so I couldn't wear it if they won.
Derek: Oh, I've got a Brady jersey. Do they have L.J. Fort jerseys? I could wear an L.J. Fort jersey for like a whole week.
Brad: You have to wear it at least a day. You'll have to show up here and do a game in your L.J. Fort jersey. You think about how rare that is to have kids come out and play at that level and to have two out of this high school [potentially] going to the Super Bowl (Gijon Robinson played with the Colts in Super Bowl XLIV). That's a pretty big deal.