Point: Falcons claim their first title
This Falcons team is not the same Atlanta Falcons we have become accustomed to seeing implode in big games. They’re one win away from hoisting the first Lombardi Trophy in franchise history. These Atlanta Falcons are no joke. They have been stopped on offense only a handful of times this year, quarterback Matt Ryan is balling out of his mind and receiver Julio Jones might literally be impossible to stop. If you’re worried about the strength of the New England defense, keep in mind the Falcons took care of what is probably a more talented Seattle defense earlier in the postseason. If you’re worried about the Patriots offense, think back to Atlanta’s handling of that Green Bay offense.
The Patriots, as fantastic as Tom Brady might be, are not the offensive powerhouse they have been in years past. They are missing tight end Rob Gronkowski, their defense has benefitted mightily from overpowering weaker offenses and they have not had to deal with the array of weapons the Falcons can throw at you offensively.
We are more than aware of what the Falcons’ offense is capable of. Ryan, Jones and running back Devonta Freeman perfectly compliment each other to form a seemingly unstoppable force. But the reason I think the Falcons will win, surprisingly, resides on the defensive side of the ball.
I think the Falcons defense will surprise a lot of people Sunday evening.
Atlanta runs a 4-3 defensive set, and statistically, it was pretty mediocre this season. The Patriots run a 3-4 and were statistically dominant this year. As I mentioned earlier, however, the Patriots have feasted on mediocre offensive counterparts this season. A front-loaded schedule and a weak AFC East left New England with few challenges along the way to the Super Bowl, especially defensively.
Here’s a list of the stud quarterbacks the Patriots defense was lucky enough to face in the past seven games of the regular season: Colin Kaepernick, Ryan Fitzpatrick, Jared Goff, Joe Flacco, Trevor Siemian, Bryce Petty and Matt Moore. Then, in the playoffs, the Pats’ defense had the pleasure of facing Brock Osweiler and an old, beat up Ben Roethlisberger.
Due to their favorable matchups against mediocre quarterbacks, the Patriots finished the regular season with the best scoring defense in the league, giving up only 15.6 points per game.
On the other side, you have the statistically much less impressive Falcons defense. On the surface, you might get the impression they won’t be able to keep up with the Patriots on Sunday. However, I really don’t think there is necessarily a huge mismatch between the Atlanta defense and Patriots offense.
In most of the games where the Falcons gave up a lot of points, they allowed the majority of them in the fourth quarter of games. These were games when their opponents were down big and trying to catch up, so the Falcons let up on some of their defensive aggressiveness. Also, why is nobody talking about how in the NFC Championship game Atlanta held Aaron Rodgers and company scoreless in the first half? No other defense was able to do that this season.
The Falcons will severely outscore the Patriots on Sunday because Ryan and Jones are on another level right now. But, the reason Atlanta will win this game, is because its defense will shock the world by making Brady, an all-time great, look as mediocre as some of the quarterbacks the Patriots offense has feasted upon this season.
I predict New England will commit at least two turnovers and a Falcons victory by at least 10 points. Get ready world, because this young Falcons team is the real deal, and they’re ready to “Rise Up” to the occasion.
Counterpoint: Brady will finally get a ring for his pinky
Assistant Sports Editor
America’s greatest holiday is upon us. I’m not talking about Valentine’s Day, I’m talking about the Super Bowl. Nearly every year, over 100 million people tune in to watch the pinnacle of professional football.
This year’s big game isn’t bereft of storylines. Perhaps the biggest storyline of them all is the quarterback duel we’ll witness while stuffing our faces with food and pouring drinks down our gullets.
It’s Tom Brady against Matt Ryan; two quarterbacks more than deserving of this year’s MVP award. I predict the pair will be the game’s most pivotal players, with the better performer hoisting the Lombardi Trophy.
If there’s any quarterback in the league I want for one game, it’s Brady.
I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it time and time again until he retires.
If Brady wins this game, the debate is over. Nobody in his or her right mind would claim there’s a better quarterback in the game’s history. Many professionals and fans already think Brady sits atop NFL’s Mt. Rushmore, but a win against the Falcons would catapult his legacy into untouchable territory.
That alone should be enough motivation for Brady to show out Sunday, but there’s more.
Brady was suspended for the first four games of this season. That’s old news. What he has accomplished in 14 regular season games since, however, is new to us all. Brady set an NFL record for best touchdown-to-interception ratio, tossing 28 touchdowns while being picked off twice. That’s ridiculous.
What’s more, he did it without his top target, Rob Gronkowski, for the final seven games of the regular season. Think about that.
Brady doesn’t have weapons like T.Y. Hilton or Dez Bryant, let alone a player such as Julio Jones. Brady made a mockery of NFL defenses, throwing to receivers such as Chris Hogan and Julian Edelman on his way to the record books.
Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, Brady is playing for his family, particularly his mother.
Galynn Brady has reportedly been ill and hasn’t attended a Patriots game this season; something Brady said was a rarity during Super Bowl Media Day on Monday.
His father has attended only one game all season, but Brady said both his parents expect to watch their son play in Houston.
I don’t even have to get into the X’s and O’s. You can design the best game plan in the world, but if your players don’t execute, it means nothing.
Matt Ryan has drastically changed the way people perceive him. He had an amazing season, but I don’t think he’s ready yet for sports’ biggest stage.
Normally, this would just be another game for Brady. He has won more games than any other quarterback. He’s tied with Joe Montana for the most rings in NFL history.
After a cloud of doubt and suspicion followed Brady for over a year because of Deflategate, Brady is ready to deflate all of his haters. Is there a better way to do it than to have Rodger Goodell, the man who went out of his way to suspend Brady not once, but twice, hand Brady the Lombardi Trophy in front of his parents for the first time this season? Not a chance.
Brady has been waiting for this. And, come Sunday, he’ll cement his legacy while snatching the trophy from the man who tried to stop him from getting it.