AP Photo/David J. Phillip

How Each Team Has Gotten Here

New England Patriots

  • 14-2 regular season
  • 1st Round Bye
  • Beat Houston 34-16 in the Divisional Round
  • Beat Pittsburgh 36-17 in the AFC Championship

Atlanta Falcons

  • 11-5 regular season
  • 1st Round Bye
  • Beat Seattle 36-20 in the Divisional Round
  • Beat Green Bay 44-21 in the NFC Championship

This Super Bowl is one of the most exciting matchups in recent memory. There are a number of intriguing storylines: New England’s dynasty versus the up and coming Falcons, the Falcons’ number one offense against the Patriots’ number one defense, the controversy surrounding Deflategate and Roger Goodell, and two MVP candidates, Matt Ryan and Tom Brady, dueling it out.

In yesterday’s article, Each Team’s Keys to Victory, I mentioned that Bill Belichick will look to shut down Julio Jones. Belichick’s known for successfully eliminating players from games based on his game plan. Despite this, I think Jones is poised to have a big day. New England’s defense is overrated. Their talent doesn’t back up their season statistics; they had an easy schedule and Belichick is their coach, which probably created this discrepancy. Furthermore,  Julio Jones should physically dominate New England’s defensive backs. He isn’t going to win the game single-handedly, but his effectiveness will open up opportunities for other players.

Atlanta’s offense this year is the best we’ve seen since Peyton Manning threw for over 50 touchdowns in 2013, a season which culminated in a blowout loss to Seattle in Super Bowl XLVIII. I think this year’s Atlanta team may actually be better than that Broncos offense because of their two-headed monster, Freeman and Coleman, who, in tandem, have close to 2500 scrimmage yards and 24 touchdowns. They can gash teams through the ground or through the air, and have a nose for the end zone once the Falcons get near the goal line. In terms of competition, New England’s defense doesn’t pose as significant a threat as Seattle’s did in 2013. I expect Atlanta to play a much stronger game than Denver did against Seattle.

Devonta Freeman & Tevin Coleman || Thunder and Lightning || 2016 ATL Falcons Highlights

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Atlanta seems to have the momentum and talent, but New England has the experience. Brady and Belichick have been to six straight AFC title games and this will be their 7th Super Bowl. Experience is something that can’t be overlooked, making New England a reasonable (and popular) pick.

However, there has to be a first for everything. I am going to pick the Falcons to win this Sunday. Their offense has been magical during the playoffs and is on a historic run. Even though Brady may have a great day, I think Atlanta’s offense has too much firepower and will overwhelm the Patriots with a historic Super Bowl performance. A Falcons win just feels right. They’re peaking at the right time, they have incredible chemistry, and it seems like this is their year. Matt Ryan might never get back to a Super Bowl, but this year, he’ll be heading home with the Lombardi trophy.


Atlanta has proven me wrong every playoff game this year. Hopefully, I am not too late to jump on the bandwagon.

Atlanta 30 New England 28

Ryan is currently a student at the University of North Carolina. He grew up in the Bay Area and has had Raiders season tickets his entire life fostering his love for the NFL. He has founded his own sports website, thejrreport.com and works at the Sports Desk for the Daily Tar Heel. You can follow Ryan on twitter @rytime98 if you want to discuss anything sports.


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