And The Winner Is…
…wait, I’m still thinking!
Almost two weeks have passed since the NFL Conference Championship games and could I possibly still be thinking about who is going to win the Super Bowl?
It could simply be because my heart is telling me one thing and my head is telling me something a smidge different.
What is my heart telling me? That the New England Patriots should win this game by 2-3 touchdowns. Not only because I am a total homer either.
In my head? Lots of things. That the Pats have played 6 Super Bowls in the Bill Belichick/Tom Brady era and the largest margin, win or lose, has been 4 points. That all of those have gone down to the bitter end. That the Pats have somehow not scored in the first quarter of ANY of those 6 games. That the Las Vegas line has not budged since opening up at Pats minus 3, with more of the money coming in on the Pats that would then normally cause a line to be bumped up to get more money coming in on the Falcons…since, you know, Vegas doesn’t like to lose money. Since Vegas is usually smarter than all us Joe Blows, this would suggest they “know” something. And all that…
So why do I think the Pats SHOULD win this game handily? There are actually a lot of reasons for that as well:
*The Atlanta defense is PUTRID. And that may actually be kind. We’ve already talked about how they gave up the 6th most points in the league this year. But also in all the coverage this week another nugget was unearthed that I hadn’t heard. The Falcons were 32nd this year in red zone D. Yup 32nd. That’s LAST, in case you didn’t know how many teams were in the NFL. You heard a lot of people say this week that “the defense got better as the season went along…” Pretty easy to say I guess when your last 4 games were against the Rams, 49ers, Panthers and Saints…and they still gave up 32 to the Saints.
Pundits like to say the Patriots’ schedule was full of cream puffs this year and that may be true. But take a look at the Falcons’ schedule. Not a Murderer’s Row, by any stretch. And they still gave up all those points.
*That very defense is young and inexperienced. 7 rookies or 2nd year players start. They supposedly have a lot of team speed, but speed may not be able to make up for inexperience. Sure, Dan Quinn has played Brady before and may know some things to do. But if that doesn’t translate to the players performing well, then that knowledge means nothing. One may say that because Brady hasn’t faced this defense, that may be an advantage for the Falcons. But I am sure he has done his homework. And he too has faced off against a Quinn defense before. So obviously, it will come down to what happens on the field. And Brady can make youngsters pay, regardless of the talent level.
*NFC Championship/front running. “Experts” will tell you Atlanta smoked a hot Green Bay team 2 weeks ago. But let’s revisit the game. What if the Packers don’t miss a 41 yard field goal on their first possession? Then what if they don’t fumble inside the Atlanta 10 on their second possession? Game starts out a little closer, no? Let’s take it further. What if the Packer defender corrals the Falcon fumble that he should have to stop one drive? Then what if the Packers don’t drop, not one, but TWO sure interceptions on another drive in which Atlanta scores a TD? How many easy drops did Jared Cook and others on the team have the entire game?
I know, a lot of “ifs”, but if even half of the above happen, Atlanta does not run away with the game at least. And Green Bay had no running backs, wide receivers that wouldn’t have played due to injury if it were the regular season and absolutely zero defensive backfield. Give the Falcons credit. They cashed in on all of the above, ran up a huge lead and never looked back. Will that happen against the Patriots?
*Vic Beasley. The Blowhard read a piece from Bill Barnwell of the 4 letter site a day or so ago, in which he included some info that I haven’t seen anywhere else. If you are so inclined, you can read the piece here:
His piece included some interesting stuff on Beasley. In summary, half his 15.5 sacks were in three games against backups and rookies…which I acknowledge (and Barnwell acknowledges) that all pass rushers beef up stats like this.
But the more interesting thing is that Vic rarely plays when the opposing offense has 2 or fewer wide receivers on the field. Presumably running downs, you might think. If the Pats trot out Dion Lewis on first down and run with Beasley off the field, then go no huddle with Lewis on second down and pass the ball…then Vic is still on the sideline in the scenario when he is most productive. Will the Falcons change that up? Not sure. But they haven’t all year.
*The “experts” have told us for two weeks that “the Atlanta defense gave up a lot of garbage points after they were winning big and that makes the defense look worse.” Ummmm, maybe in 3 of their 11 wins, as I looked back at all their games. But I’m not buying that it happened all year.
*I think nationally that people are overrating the playoff win against Seattle as well. Atlanta played well, no doubt. But this wasn’t the same scary Seattle team of the past few years. The Seahawk offensive line was in shambles. Earl Thomas was out. Richard Sherman and Russell Wilson apparently have been hurt all year and trying to push through their injuries. Oh, and that long Devin Hester punt return was called back. The Falcons deserved to win, no question. But lets not get carried away.
I could ramble on some more, but what’s the point? The Super Bowl can be unpredictable of course. Two weeks of hype. Half hour halftime. Butterflies by even the most experienced veterans. Players coming out of nowhere to be huge factors: Chris Matthews, Larry Brown, Malcolm Butler, Timmy Smith, Dexter Jackson, Desmond Howard…the list goes on. Eugene Robinson soliciting prostitutes the night before the Big Game the first time Atlanta was here…and getting busted. Stanley Wilson drilling down some cocaine the night before the Bengals played in the Game for the second time. And then some…
So enough already, who am I picking? Well, here’s how I (think I) see it: Green Bay was able to slow the Atlanta RBs down, so since that is a Patriot strength, I believe they will do the same. The Pats will let Julio Jones get his yards. They will allow the short stuff to the running backs and everyone else. Bend, but don’t break, as they usually do. We all know the Pats are not really a #1 defense, even though they allowed the least amount of points this year. But they are better than the Falcons D. They will probably dress an extra corner and play coverage most of the game. I don’t see them doing a lot of blitzes or really putting a ton of pressure on Matt Ryan.
The Patriots should be able to move the ball any way they want to. I don’t know if I see them going no-huddle and trying to engage in a shootout with the Falcons. But they will mix in runs liberally with LeGarrette Blount and Lewis. They will play ball control…to a point. Julian Edelman will have a huge game.
Another feeling I can’t shake: This has game has the feel of a guy like Logan Ryan coming through and making himself rich in the off-season…even richer than we thought for a guy who has largely had an uneven Patriot career, to be kind.
The verdict? New England 38-27. I hope…let’s also hope that Atlanta isn’t so fired up about hearing about legacies and 5th Super Bowl wins and if Roger Goodell is going to hand the Super Bowl and/or the Super Bowl MVP trophies to Tom Brady and what’s going to happen then. And all the rest of that stuff. The game will probably be closer than this and thus, closer than it should be. But hopefully the Pats do it. Cuz, you know, I’m a homer!!
Championship Games: 1-1 (1-1 against the spread).
Total: 6-4 (5-5 against the spread).
Posted on February 4, 2017, in Uncategorized and tagged Arthur Blank, Atlanta Falcons, Bill Belichick, Dan Quinn, Devonta Freeman, Dion Lewis, Eugene Robinson, Julian Edelman, Julio Jones, Las Vegas, LeGarrette Blount, Malcolm Butler, Matt Ryan, New England Patriots, Robert Kraft, Super Bowl, Tom Brady, Vic Beasley. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.