It’s all come down to this. Finally.
The Super Bowl is upon us and we have the Atlanta Falcons representing the NFC and the New England Patriots representing the AFC. At this point, it is a given that the Patriots have made it this far again. This dynasty has been one of the most consistent and dominant of any dynasty – in all of sports. Patriots quarterback Tom Brady, scoffed at his silly four game suspension and ran through the league on a 12-game revenge tour throwing 28 touchdown passes and only 2 interceptions. We all know the accolades Tom Brady possesses and we know that winning this Super Bowl only adds to his incredible legacy but the truth is – we all already know how great Brady is. Him and head coach Bill Belichick will be the quarterback/coach combo people will compare future pairings to for years to come. But all good things must come to an end. Right?
When Atlanta Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan was a freshman at Boston College, Tom Brady had already won two of his four Super Bowls and was en route to becoming an American sports icon. Both of them in the state of Massachusetts, separated by a 35 mile drive along Interstate 95.
Fast forward into time and Matt Ryan is now in his ninth season as a pro and Tom Brady is in his fourteenth season – in which seven of those led him to the Super Bowl.
This Super Bowl brings a story line most love to see in the playoffs – NFL’s number one defense verse the NFL’s number one offense. The Patriots are only allowing 15.6 points per game while the Falcons are averaging 33.8 points per game. Keep in mind the Patriots played five of six worse teams in the NFL this year, and they played against a plethora of back up quarterbacks this year (or guys who are at least the equivalent to back-up quarterback status). Without taking anything away from them though, in the AFC Championship game they held a Steelers team that averages 25 points per game to 17, and held Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger to average 6.7 yards per attempt. What helps New England is that they are third in the NFL in points scored at 27.6, but again – the competition was not much and the offense would usually find itself in great field position.
The Falcons are a young defensive team (four rookies starting) and had their struggles in the early going of the season and then it started to look as if it was coming together right when it needed to. In their playoff games against the Seahawks and the Packers, they won those games at scores of 36-20 and 44-21 respectively. All season long the Falcons had been giving up 25 points per game and their offense would generally score about ten more points than that to add a check in the win column. Now, with this defense making life easier for an offense that is 3rd in passing yards, 7th in rushing yards and 2nd in total yards per game – - this team has gotten from “scary-good” to flat out “dangerous.”
The New England defense on average, allows 3.9 yards a rush, while the Atlanta Falcons average 4.6 a carry. This results in what I have named a “Clash Average” of 4.25 yards a carry – favoring the Atlanta Falcons (don’t ask how I come up with this method – but it’s proven and it works).
New England’s pass defense will come under attack as well. They already allow the opposition to complete 61% of its passes and the Falcons are humming at a nearly 70% completion percentage. While New England’s Malcolm Butler has transformed himself from a Super Bowl hero to a top five corner back in the league – he will be matched up against the best wide receiver in the game in Julio Jones. Butler will probably have safety help (as they did for many plays against Antonio Brown in the AFC Championship) but that leads to a lot of issues going against the Falcons. Much like Brady, Matt Ryan doesn’t “force” anything – he takes what you give him. In doing so, the speed they have after-the-catch kills a lot of teams. Sanu, Robinson and even the running backs Tevon Coleman and Davonta Freeman make things happen after slant, hook and “dump” passes.
Brady loves to do the same with the talent he has – but Atlanta’s defense has something that New England’s lacks — speed and athleticism in the linebacker department. Head coach Dan Quinn is a defensive minded coach and he has built this defense more on speed than strength. This means the rushes will be faster and the reaction to receivers who are “sitting in a zone” will be noticed quicker.
Vegas has set this game at -3 favoring the Patriots since last Sunday night and it hasn’t changed one bit. The over/under is set at 59. Falcons as a three-point dog and the over would be the way to go but when it’s all said and done we all just want to know who wins the Super Bowl and not just cover the spread.
Matty Ice and the Falcons win this one 38-24.
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