Sports from the Basement

The Atlanta Falcons Have What It Takes To Win Super Bowl LI

Following a blowout 44-21 win against the Green Bay Packers in the NFC Championship Game, the Falcons are one step away from lifting the Vince Lombardi Trophy. However, the final step will be their biggest hurdle in the entire season. Atlanta will have to take down the mighty New England Patriots to win it all.

The Patriots had no problems to beat the Pittsburgh Steelers at Foxborough 36-17. And really there’s no question that they are the favorites to win again. However, the Falcons need to be taken seriously. After all, there’s a reason why they finished with the second seed in the NFC. And they took care of the Seattle Seahawks and the Packers in postseason. If anything, they have enough weapons to keep New England’s defense honest.

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We all know Matt Ryan is playing at an MVP level. The 31-year-old signal-caller is the frontrunner for the Award, and it would be shocking if he doesn’t get it. He finished the regular season with 38 TDs, only seven interceptions, 4,944 yards and a 117,1 rating. As if that wasn’t enough, he’s been even better in the playoffs with seven touchdown passes combined against Seattle and Green Bay.

However, Ryan isn’t the only threat in Atlanta’s offense. Devonta Freeman is a very good runner, and Tevin Coleman offers a respectable change of pace in the backfield. And there’s also Julio Jones, who punished the Packers’ secondary to the tone of nine catches, 180 yards and two scores this past Sunday.

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Let’s say Bill Belichick decides to put Malcolm Butler on Jones. If that’s the case, then New England has to worry about Mohamed Sanu and Taylor Gabriel. They are no Jones, but their route-running (Sanu) and blazing speed (Gabriel) could make quite a difference. Sanu has scored in each of the past three games, and Gabriel had six TDs in the regular season.

With all those weapons available, it’s not a secret why the Falcons led the NFL in points per game (33,8) during the regular season.

Defensively Atlanta will have their hands full trying to contain Tom Brady. But if one player can play a key role, that’s Vic Beasley. The edge rusher led the league in sacks with 15.5, and he’ll be in charge to put pressure on Brady. We know TB12 is an all-time great, but his numbers come back down to earth when he’s facing pressure.

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Overall the numbers weren’t kind to Atlanta’s defense, though. They ranked 25th in yards allowed per game (371,2) and 27th in points allowed per game (25,4). That’s not good enough if you’re going against Brady. During the playoffs they are sixth in YPG (338.0) and third in PPG (20,5), so at least they’re trending in the right direction when it matters the most.

Atlanta’s key to pull the upset in the Super Bowl, however, is their offense. And they are good enough to make things happen, as they’ve evidenced it throughout the season. Now it remains to be seen if they can deliver in the biggest game of the year. And who knows? That could be the final chapter in what has been a magical year for the Falcons.

 

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