The New England Patriots are 1 game away from winning their 5th Super Bowl in franchise history. The Tom Brady, Bill Belichick duo has been at the center of every one of the previous 4 championships. Heading into Super Bowl 51 the Pats face a tough test squaring off against the red hot Atlanta Falcons and their explosive offense. I’m here to tell you why the New England Patriots will defeat the Falcons in this year’s Super Bowl. Here’s how!
History Repeats Itself:
People always are looking for the next big thing. That new exciting upstart often times catches more attention than the proven product. Most of the NFL fans have their reasons for hating the Patriots but I’m asking you to not be blind to the facts. Outside of the egregious Donald Trump stuff which everyone should be disgusted with, people find ways to rationalize hating things that they fear. In this case, it’s the Patriots everlasting dynasty. There is no chance New England loses this game. I want you to read these next two paragraphs and compare them to each other. History repeats itself folks!
In 2015 the red hot Carolina Panthers charged their way into a Super Bowl appearance on the heels of first time MVP Cam Newton. The Panthers fan base rode the slogan ‘Keep Pounding’ riding a huge momentum wave all season including an NFC South title. Newton’s breakout season was aided by offensive coordinator Mike Shula, the son of hall of fame coach Don Shula who won 2 Super Bowls during his head coaching career. The Panthers met the Broncos in the Super Bowl and were defeated by a 39-year-old Peyton Manning and the number one ranked Denver defense. The Broncos would go on to defeat the Panthers 24-10 in Super Bowl 50.
One year later the red hot Atlanta Falcons exploded onto the scene on the heels of soon to be first time MVP, Matt Ryan. The Falcons fan base rallies around the slogan ‘Rise Up’ after a successful 2016 season winning the NFC South title. Ryan’s breakout season was aided by offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan, the son of coaching legend Mike Shanahan who won 2 Super Bowls during his head coaching career. The Falcons will meet the Patriots in the Super Bowl. 39-year-old Tom Brady and New England’s number one ranked defense are looking for their 5th championship.
See the similarities above….. History repeats itself. Better learn your lesson now before it’s too late. ‘Do your Job’ sounds a hell of a lot stronger than ‘Rise up’ does right? Here’s a new saying for you Atlanta…. How about ‘Sit Down’.
Defense Wins Championships:
This statement has been engrained in our heads for awhile now but is it true? Well, it is! The number one ranked defense has met the number one ranked offense 6 times in Super Bowl history. The defense has won all but one of those games with the lone exception being a Joe Montana 49ers team. I think so much attention has been surrounding the Falcons offense that we often forgot how bad the Atlanta defense is. If this Falcons team wins the Super Bowl it would be the worst statistical defense to ever win one. I don’t like those odds.
The first thing the Patriots are going to do in this game is establish the run. Sometimes the best gameplan for slowing down a historic offense is keeping them off the field and burning the clock. Enter LeGarrette Blount who rushed for 1,161 yards and 18 touchdowns during the regular season. During the playoff run, Dion Lewis has actually been the more valuable runner who also affects the passing game as well coming out of the backfield. We saw how impactful Lewis can be when he scored 3 touchdowns in the Divisional round win over the Texans. By the way, did I mention the Falcons can’t stop the run? Since week 9 according to Pro Football Outsiders, the Falcons rank 11th in pass defense and 32nd in run defense. Overall the Falcons are the 25th ranked defense and give up 104.5 rushing yards per game. If that happens the Falcons don’t have a chance to win. One of the biggest reasons the Falcons struggle with run defense is they don’t have the defensive line depth that New England does. The Patriots constantly rotate bodies in and out of the lineup. The Falcons have Courtney Upshaw, Ra’Shede Hageman, and Dwight Freeney to rotate in. That’s it! When the game gets into the 4th quarter, I don’t think Atlanta’s run defense will be able to hold up.
While Atlanta is much better in pass defense, they still are missing their top cornerback Desmond Trufant that no one seems to be talking about. Robert Alford, Jalen Collins, and Brian Poole will be no match for the Patriots crafty wide outs. How do I know this? Below is a comparison between the Patriots and Falcons cornerbacks in terms of passer rating against.
- Eric Rowe 55.8
- Malcolm Butler 77.2
- Logan Ryan 84.2
- Jalen Collins 85.8
- Brian Poole 91.7
- Robert Alford 105.0
The Patriots not only have superior cornerbacks but they probably have the right formula for at least slowing down Julio Jones. If Antonio Brown can only reel in 77 yards, I doubt Julio will be able to have a much better game.
Remember folks this Patriots defense isn’t just better, they are more experienced. Atlanta will start 7 defensive players who are in their rookie or 2nd year in the league. The difference is Atlanta’s defense isn’t just inadequate, they are horrific situationally as well. The Falcons give up touchdowns in the red-zone 72.13 percent of the time which ranks last in the NFL. Compare that to New England where they only give up a touchdown 50 percent of the time inside the 20. Do you really think any team can beat the Patriots that don’t perform well in situational football? It may be time to tell the Falcons to sit down instead of rising up.
Any man will tell you that money and women will distract them more than anything. Speaking of distractions, a common theme to the 2017 NFL Playoffs has been distractions. The Giants lost after the knucklehead group of wide receivers took a trip to Miami days before a playoff game against the Packers. The Steelers were humiliated by the Patriots and may have been a direct correlation of the Antonio Brown Facebook Live scandal. Heck, even Dallas lost to Green Bay when all the media wanted to talk about was Tony Romo. Now we have Devonta Freeman doing the unthinkable; bringing up contract frustrations during the week of the Super Bowl. Now this story hasn’t gotten the juice those other ones have but G.M. Thomas Dimitroff and head coach Dan Quinn have both come up and comment on the situation. For Freeman to bring up his contract status just days before the biggest game of his life just shows a sense of unawareness and selfishness. This is especially true considering he is under contract next season and running backs can often time be considered a dime a dozen. The Patriots feed off of this stuff. They don’t give the media anything. If the Patriots take an early lead or Freeman struggles to get going, this game could be over before it ever starts.
The Lombardi Trophy Should Be Re-Named After Bill Belichick:
Are we seriously going to take Dan Quinn to beat Bill Belichick in a Super Bowl? Say what you will but this one’s not close. As explained earlier, Quinn doesn’t even run a good defense which is supposed to be his forte. When Quinn was the defensive coordinator for the Seahawks during the Super Bowl in 2014, he blitzed more than 4 players just twice all game. That’s putting a lot of faith in Vic Beasley to create a pass rush by himself. Beasley is the lone play-maker that the Falcons defense has who led the NFL in sacks with 15.5. However, he only knocked the quarterback down 16 times all year which is why his player grade is much lower than anticipated. Enter right tackle Marcus Cannon who hasn’t given up a sack since week 1. Taking on this strategy will also leave them vulnerable to the run game as I explained earlier. For those that don’t understand the Falcons play their defensive ends at the wide 9 technique which is outside of the tackles. That allows for the gaps in the middle of the field to run the ball but can be advantageous for speed edge rushers blitzing. It’s a no win battle. Do you play cover 3 and let Brady pick you apart rushing four or do you play man and blitz which allows Brady to dump the ball off for intermediate routes? If the Falcons do decide to blitz and change up their strategy, it may not be the wisest course of action. Tom Brady averages 2.32 seconds to get rid of the football which calculates as the 3rd quickest rate in the league. He not only gets the ball out quick but he studies too much film and knows where the blitz is coming from. Brady went 61-of-99 for 838 yards with 11 touchdowns and zero interceptions facing the blitz this season only being sacked just twice.
Bill Belichick scouts his opponents better than anyone. He is going to thoroughly study the Falcons gameplan that includes a heavy dose of play action passing. Atlanta runs the play action play 27 percent of their snaps, the most in the NFL. Falcons offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan also runs his zone running scheme outside of the tackles which enables his offense to run the play action stuff. I trust Belichick to prepare guys like Trey Flowers to set the edge and keep contain. In the passing game, he’s going to enforce the proper gameplan for Julio Jones. Play-caller Kyle Shanahan is very creative in the ways he lines up Jones as he is not your typical Z wide receiver. In the NFC title game, Shanahan drew up a different formation during the first 27 plays of the game as I’ve considered him to be an offensive genius for quite some time. When Jones is motioned in the slot, he’s going to have Logan Ryan on him. On the outside, it’s going to be Malcolm Butler or Eric Rowe. Regardless there will always be a safety over the top. I don’t believe Atlanta will be able to run the ball well enough to pull that safety up in the box. Up to date, New England ranks 2nd in rushing yards allowed per game (87.6). He will live with the 3-4 yard gain. Atlanta cannot win this game without creating big plays. Enter Bill Belichick who’s calling card is not allowing the big play. The Patriots have only given up five 40 yard or more big plays all year which are the fewest in the NFL. I want to show you 3 examples of how New England will shut down Julio Jones which will completely change the game in New England’s favor.
In the picture above the Patriots use bracket coverage which is a clear double team. The biggest thing with this strategy is the other corners have to hold up in single coverage. This particular strategy seemed to work pretty well in the Patriots previous two playoff games as guys like Will Fuller and Eli Rogers never had much of an impact working on Eric Rowe and Logan Ryan. Atlanta doesn’t have a premier tight end to control the middle of the field either which allows New England to employ this coverage.
In the next image, the Patriots use an over the top safety on Antonio Brown. That effectively whips out the deep ball. In this coverage, Matt Ryan will have to check the ball down for the intermediate route as you can see a Steeler wide open in the middle of the field. If the Pats can bait Matty Ice into forcing the ball to Julio in this look the Patriots can take hold of the game. If the Falcons do throw the underneath routes, it may also be playing right into the Patriots hands because they tackle so well. The Patriots number one ranked defense (15.6 points per game allowed) only gives up 4.1 yards after the catch which is the best in the NFL.
The New England Patriots only blitzed 25.2 percent of the time. New England plays a ton of zone coverage with their linebackers as they believe they can often times fool teams by dropping someone into a zone an offense doesn’t expect to be there. It may sound silly but New England is exceptional at this as they always shift their players just before the ball is snapped. If guys like Kyle Van Noy, Dont’a Hightower, and others sneak their way into an interception don’t be surprised. In this example, it’s often times best to send Julio Jones as deep as possible so the bracketing linebacker can’t double team and becomes useless in coverage.
The important thing to take away is that Julio Jones is going to get the kitchen sink thrown at him. There are advantages and disadvantages to using each of the 3 coverages but guess what? Bill Belichick is brilliant and he’s going to employ each one during the proper times in the game. Julio Jones’ career high in drops in a single game is four. Take a guess a who the opponent was? It was against the Patriots in 2013.
Now you may ask yourself; Now Trey, what about the threat of Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman catching the ball out of the backfield? I’ll tell you why they won’t be as much of a factor in this game.
Often times before the ball is snapped you will see the Patriots crowd the line of scrimmage but do an excellent job of camouflaging which 4 defenders are actually going to blitz. In this play, you can see the player circled in blue responsible for the running back in the backfield. The player circled at the line of scrimmage drops into the zone and takes away any of the check down throws. Since there are going to be so many defenders on the line, it’s going to be very challenging to run the ball against a loaded box. If the Steelers could only run for 54 yards on 20 carries, what makes you think the Falcons will have any better success? If the Falcons have any chance of winning this game It’s going to have to come from guys like Justin Hardy and Taylor Gabriel. If they do I bet Bill Belichick will just tip his cap and shake hands.
Tom Brady Is The Greatest Quarterback Of All Time:
Why is no one talking about the Patriots offense? You’re crazy if you don’t think Tom Brady feeds off the fact that all the attention is going towards Matt Ryan and the Falcons historic offense. I’m sorry but I don’t believe the Falcons have the personnel to slow down New England’s attack for two reasons. The Patriots will be able to run the ball at will and New England’s receivers will win the one on one matchups. During the playoffs, Julian Edelman and Chris Hogan have accounted for 79 percent of the Patriots’ receiving yards in the playoffs. Edelman has averaged 103.4 receiving yards in his last five playoff appearances. Chris Hogan has exploded for 275 yards in two postseason outings. In an earlier paragraph, I showed you the passer rating against of the Falcons top 3 cornerbacks which should show they simply won’t hold up in the passing game. Don’t forget about Martellus Bennett either who is a matchup nightmare for any defense. Atlanta has the speed to keep up with some of their receivers but no one who matches up with Bennett’s size 6’6″, 275. The tallest defender for Atlanta who will match up with Bennett is Keanu Neal at 6’0″ as the Falcons defense is known for being fast and undersized. The Super Bowl is the biggest stage in sports. I’m going to give Tom Brady the edge here who will be playing in his 7th one compared to Matt Ryan who will be playing in his first.
Tom Brady just graded out as the best statistical quarterback season ever (according to Pro Football Focus). His 99.3 grade is by far the highest ever. These quarterback grades take out other factors such as getting help from receivers. To think about what he is doing right now at 39 is unfathomable. His regular season 28-2 touchdown to interception ratio is unheard of. Brady threw an interception on less than 1 percent of his throws and only had 2 other passes that even had a chance to get picked off. His 4 turnover worthy throws occurred at less than 1 percent of all his attempts on the season (0.81%). The biggest difference in Brady’s game over the years is that he has somehow been able to get more mobile as he ages. Brady’s 112.0 passer rating on plays lasting at least 2.6 seconds would have never happened 4-5 years ago. Is there any other explanation other than Tom Brady is god on earth? Atlanta doesn’t have a prayer of winning this game if number 12 continues to play like this. The scary part is no one is talking about how good Tom Brady has been this year. You know that’s only going to fire him up even more. Maybe Brady’s greatness can be explained even simpler. The deflate gate suspension was a blessing in disguise for the Patriots and has given Tom Brady that Rocky Balboa eye of the tiger look that has propelled his fantastic play all year long.
I tend to think this game will go one of two ways. The first is that the Pats will run the ball, chew the clock, and play enough defense to win. In the past when the Patriots played elite Peyton Manning offenses they always played just enough defense to win the game. The other is Tom Brady is just going to go on a rampage and just try to outscore them. Considering how bad Atlanta’s defense is, it’s not a bad strategy. I not only believe the Patriots will win but I think they will humiliate the Falcons. New England wins big, don’t overthink it.
*If you agree or disagree be sure to let me know @treydaubert