Brady and Belichick have been a dynasty unlike any other and will appear in a staggering seventh Super Bowl together this Sunday against an explosive Atlanta Falcons squad. The Falcons, appearing in their franchise’s second championship and first since 1998, boast the league’s top offense and have cruised to the Super Bowl, taking down Seattle and Green Bay via sizable margins.
By no means does this make New England a less intimidating adversary, and Atlanta will enter the game as an underdog. With the two most explosive offenses going head to head, don’t expect a low scoring fixture. Names like Julio Jones and Mohammed Sanu stand out immediately, not to mention anyone Brady graces with the ball. Since scoring is basically guaranteed, the defensive matchup will be the deciding factor in crowning this year’s champ.
Offensively, the Atlanta and New England rank one and three in scoring offense, Atlanta at 33.8 PPG and New England at 27.6. With arguably the two best quarterbacks in the league (heavy emphasis on arguably), and offensive schemes coveted as the most creative in the game, scoring is inevitable, but containing the offenses is crucial. Atlanta’s defense has been, among numerous strengths, their achilles heel this season. Ranking 25th in total defense, preventing scores has not been their calling card. They give up an embarrassing 25.4 PPG including, on average, 266.7 pass yards; you can almost hear Brady licking his chops.
However, in the postseason, Atlanta’s defensive front has redeemed itself thus far, holding Seattle to just 20 and Green Bay to 21, the majority of which was scored in garbage time. Falcons OLB Vic Beasley has had his predicted breakout season and will be the anchor of an unproven and unpredictable Falcons defense. Beasley led the NFL in the regular season with 15.5 sacks, and historically, if you want to beat Brady in the playoffs, applying constant pressure is just about the only proven way to deter his dominance.
New England has ranked towards the top of the league in defensive production, ranking 8th in yards allowed per game and, impressively, first in the league in points allowed at 15.6 per game. This will give the Pats a decided edge on the defensive side of the ball, but, again, the Falcons are no slouches on offense and New England surrenders an unimpressive 237.9 yards per game on average, so that’s not to say they’re lockdown.
Matt Ryan and Tom Brady are perhaps the frontrunners for MVP honors this season, and deservedly so. Statistically, they’re simply the best. Ryan’s numbers pop; second in total yards, TDs, and YPG, all with only seven interceptions, not to mention third in completion percentage at 69.9%. And Brady? Well, Brady just wins. Two interceptions all year in the regular season, a 67.4% completion percentage, and a total QBR of 83, second only to Ryan at 83.3. This is, of course, not to mention number one seed in the AFC, and the NFL savant Bill Belichick by his side doesn’t hurt his chances at winning, either.
Matchup-wise, this Super Bowl could shape up to be one of the great offensive matchups in recent history. Football minds Kyle Shanahan and Bill Belichick run the two most effective and creative offensive schemes in the league, so look for unconventional and gutsy calls, as well as poised play from two stud QBs. My money’s on New England, but anything can happen on Super Bowl Sunday.