Super Bowl LI: Falcons or Patriots?

Quentin Stepp and Riley Arns

Official logo for the NFL’s Atlanta Falcons. MCT 2013


The Atlanta Falcons and the New England Patriots are set to face off in Super Bowl LI Feb. 5, 2017. Tom Brady, the Patriots’ starting quarterback, will be making his seventh career start in a Super Bowl. The Falcons, on the other hand, are led by quarterback Matt Ryan, who will be making his first Super Bowl appearance. The Patriots have been to eight Super Bowls before and won four of them; the Falcons have no Super Bowl wins and this will only be their second experience in franchise history. With odds like that, there’s no way the Falcons can win, right? Wrong.
The Falcons have 12 more touchdowns than the Patriots, 56 more rushing yards, 417 more passing yards, and 473 more offensive yards total. On defense, the Falcons outmatch the Patriots in total tackles by 72 and in yards per interception by 14.8 yards. And that’s just the regular season. In the playoffs, the Falcons beat the Patriots in every single one of the aforementioned categories plus total first downs, third down conversions and sacks.

When comparing the quarterbacks, there is a clear winner. While Matt Ryan has completed over 70 percent of his passes, Tom Brady has completed a mere 62.5 percent of his. Tom Brady was also injured for a few weeks earlier in the season while Matt Ryan has had no injuries and has played in every single game this season. Brady has had ankle problems dating back to week six in the 2014 season and it has been recurring ever since. Another comparison that shows the Falcons’ clear superiority is their running backs. Devonta Freeman, Atlanta’s starting running back, has had more yards in the playoffs than LeGarrette Blount, New England’s starting running back.

The Falcons beat the Patriots in nearly every category. Their quarterback has more completed passes and hasn’t been injured in over two years. Their defense has more tackles and their offense has more yards. Their special teams is stronger and they have more possession time. The Patriots may have had more Super Bowl appearances, but that’s in the past. This is the present and the Atlanta Falcons are the better team; the numbers show it clearly. The only way that the New England Patriots could win is if they cheat, and we all know they’re not afraid to do that.

New England Patriots logo. NFL 2016



Surprise! Bill Belichick and Tom Brady have led their star studded New England Patriots to the Super Bowl again for the seventh time. Brady and Belichick are like the Batman and Robin of the NFL. The pair have the most wins of any coach and quarterback partnership, at 183, and haven’t had a losing season since 2000, Brady’s rookie season. The crime fighting duo have also grabbed four Super Bowl rings along the way and should have no problem earning a fifth \ ring this year against the Atlanta Falcons.

The Patriots have the best defense in the league, averaging less than 16 points allowed per game, and as former Alabama football coach Bear Bryant so famously put it, “Offense sells tickets, but defense wins championships.” The Falcons do have the best offense in the league and have scored the 7th most amount of points in history in a single season at 540 points but that statistic isn’t necessarily in the Falcons favor. Of the six teams that have scored more points than the Falcons, Zero have gone on to win the Super Bowl and only two of them have actually made it to the big game. The 2013 Denver Broncos and the 2007 New England Patriots are first and second in points scored in a single season in NFL history at 606 & 589 points respectively and both teams made the Super Bowl but struggled to score. The Patriots only scored two touchdowns and the Broncos only scored one in a 43-8 blowout by the Seattle Seahawks who were ranked first in defense that year. Having a good defense is far more important than having a good offense when it comes to Super Bowls. Nearly half of all teams that have ever won the super bowl were ranked either first or second defensively and this year the Patriots are ranked first by far with an average of 15.7 points allowed per game. To put that into perspective The New York Giants are ranked second and are averaging 18.7 points allowed per game, nearly 3 more points than the patriots. Considering that the best offensive teams don’t score that many points in the Super Bowl and the Patriots have the best defense in the League, I wouldn’t be surprised if the Patriots hold the Falcons to a touchdown or less., The Patriots aren’t lacking in offense either. In the regular season their offense was ranked third in the league thanks to Brady and their balanced receiving core of Danny Amendola, Julian Edelman and Chris Hogan who have really stepped it up this postseason. Edelman and Hogan alone have an incredible combined 530 yards and 3 touchdowns in just 2 games. The Patriots are going to have to play without Rob Gronkowski, one of the league’s best tight ends, but it shouldn’t matter because his replacement, Martellus Bennett, is above average and had seven touchdowns this season. New England also has a versatile running back system with three running backs including LeGarrette Blount, who had a spectacular 1,161 rushing yards and lead the league in rushing touchdowns with 18.

The New England Patriots have a great all around team with arguably the greatest quarterback of all time at the helm, a tight receiving core where no one can be left open, a running back who lead the league in touchdowns and the league’s best defense. At this point the question isn’t if the Patriots are going to win the Super Bowl, the question is by how much are the Patriots going to win the Super Bowl.

Photos from MTC Campus