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Friday, April 28, 2017

Commentary

Super Bowl LI Preview: Atlanta Falcons


The favorite for MVP, Matt Ryan looks to give the city of Atlanta it’s first championship since 1995. | Courtesy Keith Allison/Wikimedia Commons

The Atlanta Falcons will take on the New England Patriots Sunday in Houston for Super Bowl LI.

They’ll come into the match-up boasting an 11-5 regular season record, good enough for the No. 2 seed in the NFC. They have MVP hopeful Matt Ryan leading them as quarterback, as well as as receiver Julio Jones and running back Devonta Freeman to help lead the league’s highest-scoring offense.

On defense, Atlanta is led by linebackers Deion Jones and Pro Bowler Vic Beasley.

Running the sidelines for the Falcons is second-year head coach Dan Quinn, who came from Seattle and was the architect of the Seahawks’ “Legion of Boom.”

A high point for the Falcons is that they have the No. 1 scoring offense in the league, racking up 33.8 points per game while finishing No. 2 in total offense behind the New Orleans Saints.

Ryan was second in the league in passing yardage this season, falling 56 yards short of the 5,000-yard mark. He boasted a 38:7 touchdown to interception ratio, while also earning a 117.1 passer rating—the highest in the league.

The Falcons also have Jones, who amassed 100.6 yards per game in the regular season, as well as Devonta Freeman, who was No. 9 in rushing yardage while averaging 4.8 yards per carry.

The Falcons’ potent offense is also coming in hot off of dominant playoff wins against Seattle and Green Bay. After dismantling Seattle’s vaunted defense, they had a stellar showing in the NFC Championship game against Green Bay, a team that was generally thought to have the better quarterback in that match-up and an equally, if not more potent offense.

The low point for Atlanta, however, is their defense. It finished the 2016 regular season ranked 25th, giving up 25.4 points per game, while allowing a lack-luster 371.2 yards per game.

Outside of a few games, Atlanta didn’t really have many games where they dominated the scoreboard due to their defense not being able to stop other offenses. The defense doesn’t have any big name players lead them and that may be a problem come Sunday.

For the Falcons to win their first Super Bowl, they have to play to their strengths. They have to remember who they are on offense and play their game.

They have to air the ball out and let Jones play his game and try to wear down New England’s top-scoring defense. Let Freeman wear down the Patriots’ run defense and allow Ryan to have time to make the plays that he’s made this year.

On the defensive side, they have to step up and be better than they’ve been this season.

They’re facing four-time Super Bowl champion Tom Brady, who’s also being regarded by a lot of people as the best to play the game.

If he’s allowed to, Brady will tear the Falcons’ defense apart and will be well on his way to his fifth title. They have to blitz Brady and hit him every time they get a chance.

If they can contain Brady and keep him from having a field day, they’ll be able to help their offense out and give them a chance to win.

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