By OBSERVER STAFF
By MATTHEW MCCARTHY
New England Patriots Head Coach Bill Belichick has made a habit of capitalizing on the mistakes opposing teams make. If the Patriots can take advantage of the Atlanta Falcons’ mistakes, they’ll win the Super Bowl. The problem? The Falcons do not make mistakes.
Atlanta’s Matt Ryan has been one of the best quarterbacks at taking care of the football this season. In his last six games, Ryan has thrown a total of zero interceptions. The Falcons won each one of those games by an average of nearly twenty points. Atlanta isn’t just beating their competition; they’re destroying them.
This is due to the Falcons’ ability to beat teams both on the ground and through the air. The team ranks fifth overall in rushing yards per game and third overall in passing yards per game. The high potent offense ranks number one in points per game with 33.8. Atlanta operates a pick-your-poison style of offense, where if a team chooses to defend Ryan’s passes, they will be left to face a high-powered rushing attack.
Atlanta’s explosive tandem of tailbacks consisting of Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman have also protected the ball well this season. Each runningback only fumbled the ball once during the entire year. With the top scoring offense in the league, and one of the best at taking care of the ball, the Atlanta Falcons have the most dangerous offense the Patriots have faced this season. While New England possesses a formidable offensive attack as well, it simply cannot compare to the Falcons’ eighth highest scoring offense in NFL history.
The matchup of the two high-powered offenses will only come down to which team makes less mistakes.
Ultimately, the Falcons will win the Super Bowl by doing what they do best: playing mistake-free football.
By SHOBAIR HUSSAINI
Sports and Health Editor
With Super Bowl LI nearing, there are two differing mindsets regarding the two teams which will be facing off on the gridiron. The first is one of admiration for Coach Dan Quinn for leading the Atlanta Falcons to its first Super Bowl appearance since 1999. On the other hand, the second viewpoint is one of disdain for the Coach Bill Belichick. After all, the Patriot will be making their eighth Super Bowl appearance in 20 years this upcoming Sunday.
Surely, one can use the franchise and historical statistics card to favor Tom Brady and the Patriots in this year’s Super Bowl. But, statistics can be somewhat deceiving and it is for this reason, that the Atlanta Falcons will persevere and rise the Vince Lombardi Trophy for the first time in franchise history.
It is no secret that Sunday’s game will feature a class of the titans — titanic in the sense that the Falcons and Patriots combination brings the best of the National Football Conference (NFC) and American Football Conference (AFC) offenses. However, the Falcons are led by a threatening offensive-attack by Matt Ryan and Julio Jones, that has so far, proven that it is unstoppable.
The Falcons have led the National Football League (NFL) in scoring for the first time in franchise history this season. In fact, they scored 540 points this season, which ranks as the eighth-most in NFL history. Moreover, the Falcons have won their past six games, averaging 39.0 points per game in those contests. These are staggering numbers, which will make it even a more difficult task for the Patriots defense to execute stops.
A closer examination of the Falcons offense highlights greater concerns for Belichick’s team. Ryan has gone two full months without an interception, and has completed 212 passes during this time. He has also thrown seven passing touchdowns with no picks this postseason, which will create a nightmare situation for the Patriots’ defensive unit. One of Ryan’s go-to targets is wide receiver Julio Jones. Jones has been averaging 110 receiving yards per game in his five careers postseason appearances, which has been the highest since the NFL merger and among players who have played in more than two playoff games.
This season has been an electric one for Matt Ryan and the Falcons. Tom Brady and the Patriots should not be underestimated either. One thing is for sure: if the Falcons continue their offensive domination which they’ve showcased this season, they should be crowned the champions.
By ALEXANDER DIMISA
Asst. Sports and Health Co-Editor
With Tom Brady on the field, and Bill Belichick on the sideline the Patriots have been the best team in football for the past decade. Simply put, this is the best head coach/quarterback tandem in NFL history, and there seems to be no sign of them slowing down. This season they have only lost once with Brady at the helm, and he is firmly in the MVP discussion. This team consistently finds new ways to win and adapts to whatever happens in game.
One of the main reasons why Tom Brady is going to excel in this game is that he is playing with a chip on his shoulder. To start this season he was forced to serve a four-game suspension and it is clear that winning this means more to him than just his fifth Super Bowl ring. Furthermore, he has been there before.
No team or player has had as much playoff success as Tom Brady. This experience is absolutely invaluable. They have several players on this team who were in the Super Bowl in 2014. No falcon has been to the Super Bowl since 1999, where they lost. In that time Tom Brady and Bill Belichick have been to six, and won four. For the falcons this lack of experience will be their downfall. The falcons have a very talented defense but they are very young, and do not have enough experience to defeat the in his prime, Tom Brady.
In addition, the Patriots simply have too many weapons on offense. They have receiver Chris Hogan, who has had immense big play potential as of late, and fellow receiver Julian Edelman who has been one of the most consistent receivers throughout his career. In the backfield they have three starting quality tailbacks: LeGarrette Blount, James White, and Dion Lewis, all of whom are immensely talented, and can score running, catching, or returning the ball.
This Super Bowl will feature two offenses who have a variety of extremely talented players, but it comes down to experience.
Tom Brady, Bill Belichick, and the rest of the Patriots know how to win on the biggest of stages, and this game will be no different. The patriots win, and Brady is able to brush off his shoulders.
By ARTEMIS TSAGARIS
Asst. Sports and Health Co-Editor
Going into the playoffs with a 14-2 record, the New England Patriots were favored to win. First, they had a bye week, and then they crushed the Texans and the Steelers, 34-17 and 36-17, respectively. Now, they face the Falcons in the Super Bowl. Bill Belichick and Tom Brady can be classified as the best coach-quarterback team of all time. The Falcons have never won a Super Bowl, but they came closest in 1999, where they lost against the Broncos. Since 1999, the Patriots have been in the Super Bowl six times (with Brady and Belichick) and only lost two.
If the Patriots win the Super Bowl, Tom Brady will become the first quarterback in franchise history to have five (5) Super Bowl titles under his belt. The Patriots defense is highly superior to the Falcons, as they gave up the fewest yards, while the Falcons were twenty seventh (27) in the league. However, the offense is a bit of a tricky situation. Matt Ryan, the Falcons quarterback, is the top-rated passer, with Brady trailing closely behind in second. Brady only threw two (2) interceptions this entire season, while Ryan threw seven (7). Statistically, the Patriots are a much better team – since 2000, they’ve had fourteen (14) division titles. Since 1966, the Falcons have only had six (6). In all of franchise history, the Falcons have won nine (9) postseason games. Tom Brady, in his seventeen (17) years, has won twenty four (24) postseason games.
Overall, the game will be won by the one team who plays better – the rest of the season or any statistics won’t matter.