And now we have it. After 18 weeks of regular season play, Wild Card Weekend, the Division and Conference Champions have been decided. Only one game remains. Who will lift the Lombardi Trophy and become this years World Champions?
Since the odds on favorites are the New England Patriots, we shall start with them. During the regular season, the Patriots amassed 6180 yards (386 yards per game) and 441 points, (27.6 points per game.
Defensively, New England had 34 sacks, 13 interceptions and 19 Forced Fumbles (recovering 10). None of the recovered turnovers were returned for Touchdowns.
And let’s not forget, 4 Lombardi Trophy’s in 7 post season appearances in the Tom Brady era.
On the other side of the ball, and representing the NFC are the Atlanta Flacons. A young team for sure, and for the majority of their 50 year existence, the punchline of the NFL, and the ‘burned’ team in seemingly every highlight reel.
That being said, Dan Quinn has righted the ship rather quickly, having ripped off 8 quick wins last season, and now a trip to the Big Game in only his 2nd season as head coach, with Kyle Shannahan as the Offensive Coordinator, Matt Ryan behind center, and additional weapons in Julio, Sanu, Gabriel and Toilolo, not to mention TWO 1000 yard rushers in Coleman and Freeman.
This crew has racked up 6653 total yards (416 per game) and put up an amazing 540 points (33.8 per game.) That’s a full 6 points per game BETTER than their ‘patriotic’ foes.
On Defense, the Atlanta Falcons, started slow and have continued to play better with each game. In the end, they were good for 34 sacks, 12 interceptions and 17 Forced Fumbles, recovering 10. The Falcons returned FIVE of those recovered turnovers for Touchdowns.
And let’s not forget the ever important kicker which has proved as much an asset as a detriment this season. Certainly the ‘goal’ for the narrowing of the uprights. New England’s kicker has only made 84.4% of his Field Goals, including 2-4 in the 50+ range. Atlanta’s Kicker on the other foot, has succeeded in 91.9% of his attempts including 6 of 8 from 50+ yards.
Furthermore, The patriots have only had 49 extra point attempts (making 46), to Atlanta’s 57 (hitting 56 of 57).
So, to boil it all down, Atlanta is +30 yards per game, and +6 points per game in scoring. The defenses are very similar statistically (all stats gathered from espn.com) with the difference being +5 in turnovers returned for TD’s and the better percentage kicker, especially from outside of 50 yards.
Of course, we can’t discount Coach Bilichick and company’s ability to game plan, having seen that in the beginning of the season with Garapolo, and later in the season when Gronk went down. Nor can we discount the all important experience Tom Brady and the rest of the team have. I mean for these guys, the post season is expected.
For the final tally, Offensively, it is the Falcons +6, Defensive and special teams, Falcons +8. Experience, Patriots +14.
Which puts us in a statistical dead heat. A Tie. Somewhere around 38 points I think.
But there is still one metric we have not counted, and that will be the deciding factor. Hunger. Brady and the Patriots are going for a FIFTH ring, whereas the lowly Falcons make only their 7th playoff appearance in 50 years, and second Super Bowl appearance in franchise history.
All else being equal, assuming a fire alarm doesn’t go off in the Falcons hotel and Atlanta is able to retain their composure, I give the Falcons 2 points for Hunger. Plus 1 more point just because I’m a Falcons Fan and want them to win.
Final Score, Falcons 41-38 .
Written by PRG
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