This is a tough one.
I’ve racked my brain on this game for two weeks and see a lot of pitfalls on both sides. I’m not sure Atlanta’s offense can be significantly slowed by the Patriots defense.
On the flip side, there are not a ton of bells and whistles Atlanta’s defense can present to Tom Brady that will cause significant issues.
Here’s how I see this game playing out. Typically, Super Bowl teams play three types of games en route to or through the Super Bowl:
- The “A-Game”: The one where Team A kills Team B. Atlanta played this game against Green Bay in the NFC Championship Game. New England threw their A-Game at Pittsburgh in AFC Championship Game.
- The “B-Game”: You’ve got a chance to lose this one. You may actually trail in this game at one point. Atlanta played this in round two against Seattle.
- The “We Played Like Sh*t” Game: You turnover the ball too much, don’t protect your quarterback, etc., etc., etc. The only way to survive this game is through extraordinary circumstance or you play against Brock Osweiler. Obviously, this was New England in round two against Houston.
Thus, we haven’t seen Option 3 from Atlanta and New England landing on Option 2. I’m not saying the Falcons are going to pull a ’13 Broncos and lose by 35 but I could see a little “we’re just happy to be there” flowing through their veins.
Bad red zone play on offense and defensive lapses against the Pats? I can see that happening. Not a ton, but just enough.
Remember, last year when everyone was on that Carolina hype train, they played like trash.
I think the Falcons will play well, but not well enough.
PICK: PATRIOTS 38, FALCONS 30
P.S. Sorry in advance to Patriots fans for picking them and the residual jinx. Just my gut heading into this one.