Super Bowl LI Preview – Falcons vs. Patriots

“Atlanta really is a solid team, you don’t make the Super Bowl by being a plucky scrub with a hot player like in the NHL. However, questions about their defense against Brady make it hard to pick them.”

Get your pizza and wings, your snacks, the beer, that one annoying friend who wants to rank the commercials and the one friend who for some godforsaken reason wants the Patriots to win and go to the poor sucker’s house who volunteered to host a party.

It’s almost time for what the NFL hopes is a good game: Super Bowl LI.

The New England Patriots will face the Atlanta Falcons in a Super Bowl where there were only two close playoff games and a regular season that was really just average at best. On Sunday, we all will find out if this season really was just the Patriots and everyone else.

Even with QB Tom Brady being given a delayed and ridiculous 4-game suspension for “Ballghazi” (I refuse to throw the word ‘gate’ after every controversy in the world), the Patriots still only lost a grand total of two games all season. New England is always at the top of their game with Brady and coach Bill Belichick, ranking as the top scoring defense and third highest scoring offense.

The Pats run through Brady, but RB Dion Lewis has been a fantastic talent for New England. Lewis may be needed to combat the suddenly potent pass rush in Atlanta. Brady also can make the Falcons pass rush irrelevant with a quick rhythm passing game involving Lewis, TE Martellus Bennett and WRs Julian Edelman and Chris Hogan (HEY DID YOU KNOW HOGAN PLAYED LACROSSE?!).

The Patriots boast the best scoring defense, but the major question is who have they played? Outside of facing Seattle’s Russell Wilson (who they lost to), New England has not faced any other quarterback that even made the diluted Pro Bowl. The only other above-average QB that went up with New England was Pittsburgh’s Ben Roethlisberger in the AFC Championship, in a game where the Steelers forgot what defense was. Matt Ryan is a great measuring stick on what the Patriots defense actually is. Are they as talented as their ranking, or did they beat up on a lot of cupcake offenses?

The Falcons were going shot-for-shot with the Carolina Panthers last season before going 1-7 in the second half of the season of 2015. Atlanta stayed the course this season, with a potent offense and an improving defense. QB Matt Ryan had an MVP-caliber season, and was the catalyst to the top scoring offense in the NFL.

Ryan has always been very good, but better decision making in the red zone turned Ryan’s play into elite-status this season. However, Ryan is not the only talented piece of Atlanta’s offense. The Falcons have all-world WR Julio Jones, as well as complementary pieces in WRs Mohamed Sanu and Taylor Gabriel, TE Austin Hooper and a solid running game led by RBs Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman. If defenses try to shut down Jones, other weapons are making them pay. If you single up Julio Jones, like Green Bay did in the NFC Championship? Well, you go home bitter and ashamed.

Fun fact- LB Vic Beasley led the NFL in sacks. On a team that normally is starving for a pass rush. Beasley missed his rookie year due to injury, but Beasley has been a force for Atlanta and an annoyance for opposing QBs. Solid rookie seasons from SS Keanu Neal and LB Deion Jones have also helped Atlanta to succeed defensively. One question looms in Atlanta’s secondary: the injury of CB Desmond Trufant. Trufant was Atlanta’s best defender and would have helped with Brady and the Pats.

Stupid cliches you’ll hear all game:
– The Patriot Way
– Chris Hogan played lacrosse
– Tom Brady looks to have the most Super Bowl wins for a QB
– Atlanta looks to win first Super Bowl
– Falcons GM Thomas Dimitroff, the former Patriots front office member, bringing the Patriot Way to Atlanta
– Chris Hogan played lacrosse
– Tom Brady the greatest of all time
– Amount of food consumed during the Super Bowl
– Chris Hogan played lacrosse

PREDICTION: Atlanta really is a solid team, you don’t make the Super Bowl by being a plucky scrub with a hot player like in the NHL. However, questions about their defense against Brady make it hard to pick them. To be fair, I’m hoping to purposefully be wrong and curse New England. Also, I’m hoping for Brady to retire if he wins… (A man can dream, okay?) Patriots over Falcons, 30-27.

Enjoy your Super Bowl, and if you’re in need of more football optimism if New England ruins your day, check out the NFL Draft Position Rankings for both offensive and defensive prospects here on Better Live Than Dead!

Did you know Chris Hogan played lacrosse?

Written by Derek Kramer

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