Why the Atlanta Falcons Will Win Super Bowl LI
By Loot, NFL Handicapper, Lootmeister.com
The Atlanta Falcons parlayed an 11-5 regular season record where they won the NFC South into a 2-seed in the playoffs. After sitting out the wild card round, they began their playoff quest with a home game against one of the conference's perennial powers in the Seattle Seahawks. After a rough start where it looked like the game could go sideways, the Falcons hunkered down and soon took control of the game en route to a 36-20 win. Next up was the Green Bay Packers, a team on a long winning streak. The Packers were never in it, with Atlanta cruising to a 44-21 win that wasn't even as close as the score indicates.
Any reservations that people had about Atlanta's viability as a realistic Super Bowl contender were dispelled in their two playoff wins. With 80 combined points, the offense is seeing success at the highest levels. And while the weakness of their defense has been camouflaged to some extent this season with such a high-flying offense, they have shown themselves in this postseason to be a peaking, playmaking, swarming defense with a lot of speed. And how well that side of the ball performs will play a big role in whether the Falcons can notch the franchise's first Super Bowl victory.
Electric Offense: This is the Falcons' calling-card. The top-scoring offense in the league has been thoughtful in constructing their offensive identity. Many players contribute to the overall success of the offense. They have all-world talent like Julio Jones at receiver, but even the times opposing defenses were able to keep Jones quiet, other guys stepped up, guys like Taylor Gabriel, Mohamed Sanu, and others. They have a diverse offense that can also run the heck out of the ball with Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman. But even when the run was unable to get untracked, both backs were used aerially by peaking quarterback Matt Ryan. It's an offense with a lot of variety and diversity in their approach. And it's a lot for defenses to contain. They can also start very fact and amazingly, have scored touchdowns on their opening drive in eight straight games!
Better Defense than Advertised: This is likely the Achilles Heel for the Falcons and if they don't perform up-to-snuff, it will probably be due to the play on this side of the ball. By the same token, we've seen a different Atlanta defense to close the regular season and into the playoffs. While still porous on occasion, this defense brings a ton of speed to the table. In recent games, when an opposing receiver catches a short pass, we see defenders descending on the scene at a startling rate of speed. They're aggressive and can get after it. They have tremendously fast linebackers that have been making a big difference in recent weeks. Again, when you have a high-flying offense that starts all its games fast and scores more points than anybody, it can make a defense look a little better than it really is. We just don't want to continue questioning the Atlanta defense based on how poorly they played at times in the regular season. While not the best defense ever seen in Super Bowl, they certainly haven't appeared to be a liability so far in the postseason. And to keep a rolling Green Bay offense in check says a lot about how far they've come.
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The Fallacy of Inexperience: While experience in a Super Bowl setting would have to be considered an asset, that doesn't mean the opposite is necessarily bad. First of all, it's wrong to call out Atlanta for not being proven at this level. With their last Super Bowl appearance coming nearly two decades ago, they never had a chance to show they belong at this level. In other words, it's wrong to call a team out for something they've never had a chance to show. All great teams that ended up compiling big Super Bowl runs all started in the same spot the Falcons players now find themselves—in their first Super Bowl.
At the end of the day, football is football. A team that has enough inner-fortitude to even make it to this spot has already shown they can thrive when the lights are at their brightest. Sure, this is another level of hype that can swallow up unsuspecting people. Coach Dan Quinn was a defensive coordinator with the Seahawks when they achieved Super Bowl glory. While it's different in the head coaching spot, he knows what it takes and how to work through the drama that leads up to the big game. Sometimes in the Super Bowl, things like experience can take a back-seat as it becomes all about straight football and simply who the better team is. Tired of your credit card not working for sportsbook deposit? End that problem today and bet on Super Bowl LI from the comfort of your own home by signing up at Bovada Sportsbook where your credit card WILL work and where you'll receive a generous 100% sign-up bonus!