Super Bowl LI – Patriots vs Falcons Preview
For the second year running the Superbowl is serving up a match up that would have never been predicted back in August when teams reported for training camp. Its NFC again that has given us a surprise team with a dynamic offense never seen in the NFL, and the AFC is once again being represented by the New England Patriots. Both these teams were considered amongst playoff worthy teams but only as outsiders. The Falcons had gone 8-8 in 2015, and had seen a steady decline in the numbers of quarterback Matt Ryan, and the Patriots were preparing for 4 games without Tom Brady and no first round draft pick. Despite all this adversity both teams came through and will battle it for the Lombardi Trophy on Sunday night.
The Falcons come into this game with highest ranked offense this season, that blew away the Packers and Seahawks in the playoffs. Defensive coordinator Matt Patricia and Head Coach Bill Belichick in the New England will to be creative when it comes to stopping them. Looking at the talent on the Patriots defensive the logic would point to them aiming to stop the run game as their secondary matches up poorly against the Falcon receivers. The Patriots will need to focus on centre Alex Mack in their defensive game plan, Mack has been instrumental in pass and run protection. Taking Mack out of the game could see a collapse on the Falcons as quarterback Matt Ryan will find himself under constant pressure, with limited time to find open receivers.
The Falcons will need take advantage of the poor matchup in the secondary for Patriots, and stick with their game plan of spreading the ball to all their receivers. They have one of the best offensive minds in football Kyle Shanahan calling plays, who has shown that he is very adept at tweaking his game plan when things don’t work out. On defence, they cannot allow themselves to be tempted to drop an extra defensive back into the secondary to stop the passing game. This would result in less pressure on Brady up front and give him more time find an open receiver. The key to beating Brady is getting him under pressure in the pocket, which will require a big game from Vic Beasley and Dwight Freeney.
What tips this in New England’s favour is the fact that is Bill Belichick’s 9th Superbowl and Tom Brady’s 7th. These two have seen it all on the biggest stage, including stopping the greatest offense since the Falcons in 2001, overturning the biggest 4th quarter deficit in 2014 and winning the game in the last second when the Seahawks were 1 yard away from winning. Tom Brady has more Superbowl experience than the entire Falcons team, and on the biggest stage experience is vital.