On paper, this could be a Super Bowl for the ages. We’ve got the New England Patriots’ number one defense going up against the star-studded Atlanta Falcons offense – a mouth-watering contest to say the least.
Furthermore, Bill Belichick will pit his wits against Dan Quinn in the showpiece event once again. In 2015, Quinn was defensive coordinator of the Seattle Seahawks in one of the greatest Super Bowl matches of all times. Belichick and Brady came up trumps on that occasion as Malcolm Butler made an incredible play to stop the Seahawks on the 1-yard line.
Quinn’s defense did their utmost to stop Brady & Co on that occasion but they fell agonizingly short – and the Falcons’ head coach will be determined to make amends on a personal level. Meanwhile, a maiden championship for Atlanta should be enough to get their 53-man roster motivated to show up on the biggest stage of all.
Statistically, the Falcons have the best offensive unit in the NFL and it would take a brave man to argue against Atlanta on current form. Quarterback Matt Ryan has had an MVP-caliber season and the likes of aggressive running back Devonta Freeman, stud wide receiver Julio Jones and emerging threat Taylor Gabriel will keep the Patriots defense guessing from start to finish.
Many believe the key to this contest is stopping Jones but defensive coordinator Matt Patricia knows that stopping the Falcons star completely is out of the question. Instead, the Patriots may attempt to bring pressure to Ryan on a regular basis in a bid to force him out of the pocket. Ryan led the NFL with a passer rating of 117.1 – an incredible figure. To put his achievements this year into perspective, his next best rating total is 99.1 from back in 2012.
Matt Ryan’s 133.3 passer rating in his last 6 games (including playoffs) is the highest by any Super Bowl starter leading up to the game pic.twitter.com/QKTTWsMRKm
— NFL Research (@NFLResearch) January 25, 2017
Given time, Ryan has the ability to pick apart this New England defense. For the Patriots, the collective unit has always been bigger than the sum of its parts and Belichick will have a plan to combat this potent Atlanta offense.
The Falcons have scored 30+ points in seven of their last eight games; scoring 28 in the other. Holding Atlanta to field goals and forcing three-and-out drives will be the key to New England’s chances of a fifth Super Bowl ring.
As of January 31st, Atlanta are priced at 23/17 with 888sport to win the showpiece event in Houston and it will come down to their offensive talent on the day. If Patricia and Belichick get it right, the Falcons may struggle.
New England’s system is unique in the sense that they always seem to keep studs quiet but it is almost impossible to keep everybody on this Atlanta offense out of the game. If you focus on Jones, the running game opens up for Freeman. By the same token, bringing line-backers and safeties up should help Jones to get loose…
This will be the sixth time in Super Bowl history that the top-ranked defense faces the top-ranked offense. In the previous five, defense has won four times – with Joe Montana’s San Francisco 49ers the lone exception.
Cast your minds back to the Super Bowl in February 2014; Peyton Manning and the Broncos were ripped to shreds by Quinn’s “Legion of Boom” defense in Seattle. Let’s hope that Atlanta bring their A-game and neutrals could witness one of the most exciting and entertaining Super Bowl contests of all times.