On Feb. 5, the Atlanta Falcons will square off with the New England Patriots in the NFL’s 51st Super Bowl, yet the tale of these two teams’ successes is of polar opposites as they prepare for each other.
In a high-scoring, but close game that will test the scoring endurance of both teams, the Falcons offensive weapons will reign supreme as they have all season.
The Falcons fly into the Bowl with the most explosive offense in the league. Ranking first and second in points per game and yards per game, respectively, their offensive capabilities are unmatched. With quarterback Matt Ryan putting forth an MVP-caliber season and coming off an incredible 392-yard, five-touchdown performance against two-time MVP Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers in the NFC Championship game, the Falcons will likely continue their offensive dominance over the Patriots.
Coupled with Pro-Bowl wide receiver Julio Jones, who ranks first in yards per game and second in yards on the season, and Pro-Bowl running back Devonta Freeman, the Falcons have one of the most threatening trios in the league rendering their attack practically unguardable. Jones remains an unstoppable force on the outside, as witnessed by his 180-yard and two-touchdown shredding of the Green Bay defense last Sunday.
The Patriots, however, present one of the league’s tightest defenses. Giving up the fewest points per game, the Patriots rely on their stifling defense to shut down offensive weapons. On the other side of the ball, QB Tom Brady is once again leading a strong Patriots offense as he wraps up his 14th season, seeking his fifth Lombardi Trophy.
This combination of strong defense and ever-consistent offense helped the Patriots boast the largest point differential and the best regular-season record in the NFL at 14-2. The Falcons will look for their defense to slow down Brady just enough for their own offense to take the driver’s seat in this shootout.
New England coach Bill Belichick will likely double-team Jones, much like the Pats did Pittsburgh WR Antonio Brown in the AFC Championship game. This will leave the Falcons relying on veteran receivers Mohamed Sanu and Taylor Gabriel who are more than capable than taking over. Jones, a much bigger, more physical receiver than Brown will have a much easier time fighting off double teams which could end up backfiring for New England.
While the Patriots will play in their seventh Super Bowl in the past 14 years, the Falcons are looking for their first NFL Championship in just their second Super Bowl appearance.
Tom Brady could become the winningest Super Bowl quarterback ever, earning his fifth Super Bowl to break a tie with all-time greats Joe Montana and Terry Bradshaw.
It seems this Super Bowl is shaping up to be a classic defense versus offense game yet again. And while the Patriots look to contain Ryan and Jones, no team has been able to accomplish such a feat this year, including the fearsome legion of boom in Seattle.
Brady is fighting hard to solidify his place among the legends as arguably the greatest quarterback the NFL has ever seen in this matchup pitting defense and experience against youth and explosiveness, but will likely fall short of his quest.