Everyone seems to be talking about how the Falcons offense is so high powered and can’t be stopped. Don’t forget the Patriots had the #1 defense in the NFL this year. Critics are often quick to dismiss the Patriots defense because of the quality, or lack thereof, of quarterbacks and offenses they have faced. Can the same not be said for the Falcons offense facing some of the worst defenses in the league? Everyone is rooting against the Pats. You think they would be huge underdogs instead of 3 point favorites the way everyone is discussing this game. The top offense usually struggles in the Super Bowl, especially now that great coaches have 2 weeks to prepare after the Championship games.
Super Bowl Matchups w/ Top Scoring Defense vs Top Scoring Offense
Top D – 5 Ws
Top O – 1 W
— NFL Network (@nflnetwork) January 27, 2017
The top scoring offense has taken on the top scoring defense in 6 previous Super Bowls. Here’s how those went (top offense listed first):
- Super Bowl I: Chiefs 10 – Packers 35
- Super Bowl XIII: Cowboys 31 – Steelers 35
- Super Bowl XIX: Dolphins 16 – 49ers 38
- Super Bowl XXIV: 49ers 55 – Broncos 10
- Super Bowl XXV: Bills 19 – Giants 20
- Super Bowl XLVIII: Broncos 8 – Seahawks 43
There are 2 other Super Bowls that I would add to that list from this past decade that have a similar storyline to this Falcons-Patriots Super Bowl. The first will hurt Pats fans, as it was the first matchup with the Giants in Super Bowl XLII (however the argument could be made for both Giants-Pats games). The Pats were 18-0 heading into the game, with the greatest offense the NFL had ever seen. No one thought the Giants should be in the Super Bowl that year, much less have a chance to win it. Then you get that helmet catch can Eli Manning somehow is a Super Bowl Champion. The other game? None other than last years Super Bowl featuring the Panthers and Broncos. Very similar lead up to the game. How were the Broncos going to stop the seemingly unstoppable Panthers offense lead by “SuperCam” Newton. Well Von Miller had his way with the Panthers offensive line and that was the end of that.
— Worcester Daily News (@worcdailynews) February 8, 2016
Offense gets you to the big game. Defense wins championships. Despite the major shift to an offensive-oriented league, this motto still holds true. It’s typically the better all around team that wins. To back track a bit, I think the best comparison of this game is to the Broncos- Seahawks recent Super Bowl in which the Seahawks destroyed the Broncos. Historical offense. Great defense, but with a very good offense as well. That is a recipe for success in this league. Sure talk about how Atlanta scored 34.4 points per game, but they gave up 24.8. The defense gives up points in bunches so they need to score a lot. Whereas, the Patriots gave up a league best 15.7 points per game, but scored an average of 28.4- don’t forget this is without Brady playing the first 4 games. Something has to give between the Patriots defense and the Falcons offense, my money is on Belichick figuring it out. I don’t think it will be as lopsided as the Seahawks Broncos game, but it could get out of hand if the Falcons don’t score early.
Keys to the Game
1. Make Matt Ryan Uncomfortable
Julio Jones is going to be double teamed, but will still make his plays. He’s simply too talented, you can do your best to try and shut him down but you can’t guarantee it. The best way to shut down Julio is to make Matt Ryan get rid of the ball before the longer route develops. Logan Ryan will presumably be on Julio; take away the short routes with help over the middle and a safety over the top to help stop the deep play. Some plays the Pats may have 3 or more players focused on Julio to stop the big play. Force Ryan to check down and do what the defense does best.
2. Fly to the ball and gang tackle
The Falcons are a high powered offense with a ton of game breaking weapons. Julio is just the tip of the iceberg. Sanu and Gabriel both have big play ability. Freeman and Coleman are arguably the most explosive running back duo in the NFL; both are extremely dangerous in the receiving game as well. While the Falcons aren’t exactly an offense that looks to check down, they do utilize the short passing game to get their skill player’s in space. Everyone of them is dangerous with the ball in their hands and can make you miss one on one. The Pats have to limit the big YAC plays, something they do so well. With all the focus on Julio, one missed tackle can spell disaster.
3. Don’t let the Falcons hang around
No arguments that the Falcons offense is scary good. Can they be slowed down? I believe so. Shut down completely? I doubt it. This team can score from anywhere on the field and if they get some momentum…. look out. A 2 touchdown lead isn’t really safe against this team, the Pats must continue to put points on the board consistently while eating up clock. The Falcons can easily march up and down the field if the offense is clicking, all they need is a quick stop on defense for a big swing in their favor.
Patriots 34 – Falcons 24.
Lets get one more this year….