Sunday the Atlanta Falcons will play in their second Super Bowl when they take on the New England Patriots. In 1999, the Falcons lost to the Denver Broncos 34-19 in the first Super Bowl in franchise history. New England is accustomed to playing in the big game and will be appearing in their NFL-leading ninth Super Bowl. The Pats have the top defense in the league while the Falcons have an offense that has been compared to the Kurt Warner-led St. Louis Rams when they were known as the greatest show on turf. Despite Atlanta’s prolific offense and their six game winning streak, New England is still the odds-on favorite to win.
However, I think this time may be different. In addition to having the league’s top scoring offense, the Falcons are lead by Matt Ryan; the man I believe will be the offensive player of the year. The Atlanta quarterback has passed for over forty-nine hundred yards this season completing a pass to almost every player in his receiving corp. He has thrown seven touchdown passes in the postseason without an interception ( That’s two months), and he has the red and black averaging 39 points in their last six games.
Wideout Julio Jones has been Ryan’s’ primary target hauling in 83 of his passes for over fourteen hundred yards, reaching the end zone six times. Jones is the key component in an arsenal that includes Taylor Gabriel, Mohamed Sanu, Justin Hardy, Aldrick Robinson, Nick Williams and Bethune-Cookman University Alum Eric Weems. But the receivers are just one part of the Falcons attack. The Atlanta ground game features five foot eight inch running back Devonte Freeman. His diminutive stature allows him to disappear behind an offensive line that stands an average of 6’4″ and 305 pounds. Freeman rushed for over one thousand yards this season and had found himself in the end zone eleven times.
Now you may ask, “Why do I think the Falcons will win despite being one of seven teams that Tom Brady has never lost to as a starter?” Consider this, Atlanta has scored the eighth-most points in NFL history this season, They are on a six-game winning streak, Ryan has passed for at least three touchdowns in four consecutive playoff games ( the longest streak in NFL history), and Jones is averaging 110 yards per game in five career postseason games. Do you need more? I don’t think so.
I’m not taking anything away from the Patriots who have won four of their previous eight trips to the big game. But bearing in consideration that their last Super Bowl title came at the expense of the Seattle Seahawks and that infamous pass at the goal line (which was intercepted by Malcolm Bell) that preserved the win in Super Bowl XLIX. It’s just my opinion that the slogan heard all year long in Atlanta “Rise UP,” can be changed to “They Rose Up and Won” after they win Super Bowl 51.
Trevin A Jones