“Fiddle, dee, dee.” “War, War, War,” complains Scarlett O’Hara in the classic film and book, “Gone With The Wind,” while surrounded by the Tarleton Twins, who just adore her. Now, tomorrow’s Super Bowl LI at NRG Stadium in Houston, Texas between the New England Patriots and the Atlanta Falcons won’t be a “war,” per se, but I expect a great game, between these two teams. Both teams made it to the big dance, and I congratulate them. I wish both teams luck. We will have to see whether the Patriots will send a message to the Falcons, that “tomorrow, will have to be another day”, or whether the Falcons will capture their first Super Bowl, and will tell the world that they’ll “never go hungry again.”
Now, that I have that out of the way, here is my analysis and prediction for Super Bowl XL. I hope you enjoy this blog, and feedback is welcome.
THE ATLANTA FALCONS
The Atlanta Falcons come to the Super Bowl with an 11-5 regular season record. They have the NFL’s #1 ranked offense. QB Matt Ryan is likely going to be awarded the NFL’s MVP, due to his fantastic year. He threw for 4944 passing yards, and had a 69.9 completion percentage. He threw 38 TDs and 7 INTs. The Falcons have many weapons on offense, such as wide receivers Julio Jones, and Mohamed Sanu. They have RB Devonta Freeman, and others. This is a very potent offense. Their defense is very fast. They have an excellent coaching staff in head coach Dan Quinn, and outgoing offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan.
HOW THEY WIN
This is not Dan Quinn’s first rodeo, as this is his third Super Bowl appearance. He was at this event twice with the Seahawks as their defensive coordinator. He will have this team prepared. Matt Ryan must be careful with the ball. Falcons must not turn the ball over, as the Patriots are the best at capitalizing on opponents’ mistakes. The Falcons defense has to mix up zone coverage and man coverage, to try to confuse Tom Brady. The Falcons must hit Tom Brady. The Falcons offensive line must protect Matt Ryan. I realize that the team is “not worried” about Center Alex Mack’s ankle, but we will have to see what happens, when the bullets start flying, so to speak.
THE NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS
The New England Patriots come to the Super Bowl with a 14-2 regular season record. This team boasts the NFL’s #2 ranked offense and the #1 ranked scoring defense. This is the team’s ninth Super Bowl appearance. If that is not a sign of continued excellence, I don’t know what is. Legendary Patriots QB Tom Brady is in his 7th Super Bowl, and should he win, he would have 5 Super Bowls. Hall of Famer Charles Haley is the only other NFL player with 5 Super Bowl rings. Brady is an MVP candidate, and in the 12 games he played, after coming off his unwarranted suspension, he went on a tear. He threw 28 TDs and 2 INTs, making it the lowest TD to INT ratio in history. Brady threw for 3554 yards, and had a 67.4 completion rating. This is absolute amazing to see a top quarterback do, especially at age 39.
The team features their legendary coach Bill Belichick, and a pretty potent offense. This is a very adaptable offense. They have wide receivers, Chris Hogan, Danny Amendola, Julian Edelman, and newly acquired Michael Floyd. LeGarrette Blount, and Dion Lewis are the two main running backs. Blount has power and Lewis is very shifty and speedy. Tight End Michael Bennett has been working through injuries, but he has come through on critical situations. The defense is very opportunistic. They do a lot of gang tackling. Donte Hightower, Alan Branch and Rob Ninkovich have been very crucial to stopping the run. Super Bowl 49 star, Malcolm Butler has blossomed into a top CB. The “Rutgers Trio,” Logan Ryan, Devin McCourty, and Duron Harmon , make their impact in the secondary, as well. As a fellow Rutgers graduate, they make me proud.
HOW THEY WIN
Coach Belichick has SIX Super Bowl rings, four as head coach of the New England Patriots, and two as defensive coordinator of the New York Giants, so he knows what he is doing. Now, how does he break the tie with the late, great Pittsburgh Steelers Head Coach Chuck Noll, who also has four rings as head coach? The Patriots defense must confuse Matt Ryan. They have to get him off his spot. They have to hit Ryan. Don’t obsess too much over Julio Jones. Don’t put all your energy into covering Jones, or Ryan will just use his other weapons to beat you. On offense, the offense line MUST PROTECT BRADY. That is paramount. Against this defense, if I were Josh McDaniels, I would run the ball. Tom Brady will get his TDs, but I think that running the ball will work. It also keeps the Atlanta offense off the field. Scoring early would be a good idea.
WHO WINS AND WHY?
I realize that I am bucking many experts, on ESPN and NFL Network, and elsewhere, who say that Atlanta will win. I can understand why. The Falcons have a high-powered offense. Matt Ryan is the hot, young QB. Many doubt the Patriots defense. Many folks still on the “Pats can’t win without star TE Rob Gronkowksi.” bandwagon. Many folks were pushing an anti-Patriots and anti-Brady agendas, so that was their reasons for picking the Falcons. I get it. I totally understand why all these folks are picking the Falcons.
I think they are wrong. It is my experience that a team with a high-powered offense, like the Falcons does not win the Super Bowl. If you look back at many of these teams, like the 2007 Patriots, the 2008 Cardinals, and as recently as last year’s Panthers, there seems to be a trend that doesn’t favor the Falcons, in my opinion. Those offenses went up against very good to excellent defenses. While I realize that the Patriots have the 2nd ranked offense, their defense should not be overlooked. I also feel that Belichick’s experience, and the experience of Tom Brady and many of the Patriot players will play a part in this game.
I think the scoring will be kept in the 20s. I think the Patriots has the better defense. I see them forcing Matt Ryan into mistakes. I see the Patriots running the ball, and I see Tom Brady picking apart that defense, especially in the red zone. I also see Tom Brady as the MVP of the game.
PATRIOTS 28 FALCONS 24