The Super Bowl is the pinnacle for anybody who has ever laced up the cleats and shoulder pads. Many of us had countless nights staying up late just picturing what it would feel like to play on the biggest stage of American sports. For some players like Julio Jones of the Falcons, it seems like fate and his tremendous talent would eventually lead him to this ultimate stage. Coming out Foley High School in Alabama, Jones was ranked the #1 receiver in the country. As a sophomore at Alabama he helped lead the Crimson Tide to a perfect 14-0 season and a National Title along the way. Once he was drafted #6 overall by the Falcons in 2011, we all knew the time was ticking down to him being here.
Then there are players like Tom Brady, who granted is in playing in his seventh Super Bowl, but when he was drafted in the sixth round of the 2000 NFL Draft no one expected him to be where he is now. Since Brady was drafted, Bill Belichick and Brady have gone on to win 180 regular season games and 22 postseason games. Also, after tomorrow they will have played in a combined 7 Super Bowls together, all of what I just mentioned happen to be NFL records. I guess the point I’m trying to get at is that getting to the Super Bowl once, or a record seven times is just as rare and difficult to accomplish. Tomorrow another chapter in history will be written, the question is what will it be? Will it be Brady, Belichick and the Patriots walking off as the best squad in football for the 5th time or will Matt Ryan, Julio Jones and second year coach Dan Quinn pull off the upset and bring one back to the Georgia Dome? Well, let’s break it down.
I called upon the expertise of someone who has played in the trenches with some of the best the NFL has had to offer, former first round pick of the St. Louis Rams and former Washington Redskin stand out Adam Carriker. I asked Adam what he thought the keys to the game where and a prediction on the game. This is what he had to say…
“Atlanta is younger and more talented. But their defense didn’t start playing well until the playoffs. They have three rookies and three-second year players on their D. Two years ago half of their defense was still in college, but they’re fast, athletic and playing well now! Biggest key is Patriots/Belichick/Brady experience vs young/talented Falcons. Whoever makes the least amount of mistakes and plays football instead of being awestruck will win. I predict Falcons give up some big plays early and fall behind. They come roaring back and it’s a close higher scoring game. 34-31 Pats win. Also, Goodell fakes heart attack to avoid handing the trophy to Brady.”
My heart was happy when I read his response because it showed me that I was thinking on the same wave length as a retired NFL pro. I’ve said numerous times that Belichick will neutralize Julio Jones like he did Antonio Brown and force the rest of the Falcons offense to step up under the brightest lights. The Patriots will use safety help to stop the deep ball and keep everything in front of them.
Since week 9 of the regular season the Falcons are dead last against the run, I expect a large dose of Legarrette Blount up the gut. Think about it, the more yards Blount gets the more time runs off the clock, the more time runs off the clock and the Falcons offense is on the sideline, the better it is for the Patriots. The best way to keep an offense from scoring is to keep them off the field. Belichick knows that and he will use it to his advantage. I don’t expect Tom Brady to come out and throw for 400 yards and 5 touchdowns. Be prepared to watch a slow and methodical offense grind down that young Atlanta defense. Like Adam said, two years ago their defense was in college. I’ll take experience every single time in this match-up.
I do expect Devonta Freeman to have a decent game, but not to the point where the outcome of the game is affected. We have the games best offense pitted against the games best defense in this years title game. We know how great Atlanta’s offense can be, but I still don’t think we know how great New England’s defense can be. If recent history has shown us anything lately it’s that offense wins regular season and maybe a few playoff games, but defense ultimately wins championships.
I’ve got New England winning the game 38-31. Belichick and Brady add another one to their collection, meanwhile Roger Goodell has to look the man he suspend for 4 games at the beginning of the season, in hopes of ruining his season, in the eyes and tell him, “Congratulations, despite my best efforts you have proved yourself to be the G.O.A.T.”
Kick off can’t come soon enough.