Atlanta Falcons: Super Bowl Preview
Need a team to support in the Super Bowl? You can’t go wrong with the Atlanta Falcons.
The Atlanta Falcons, spearheaded by an electrifying offense, are trying to win their first ever Super Bowl.
They face off against the best team of the 21st century, the New England Patriots, who are trying to win their 5th.
We’ve broken down the key players on the team, as well as some crucial Super Bowl match-ups and team history to get you ready for Super Bowl 51:
Quarterback Matt Ryan’s success on the biggest stage wasn’t glowing heading into this year’s playoffs. Over five career playoff games he had only won once and even blew a 17-point lead in the 2012 NFC Championship game.
This January though he finally proved his nickname, ‘Matty Ice.’
He elevated his game when it mattered most and blew away both Seattle and Green Bay, averaging 40 points per game.
In Super Bowl 51 he faces his toughest challenge yet. The New England Patriots have the top ranked defense and have made a habit of making fantastic offenses look pedestrian.
Julio Jones might be the best receiver in the NFL and last summer’s signing Mohamed Sanu compliments him perfectly.
They have the speed, size, and know-how to make any defender in the NFL worried.
What really makes the Falcons tick though is their tandem of running backs.
The versatility of backs Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman mean defences must always be on their toes and guard every player on the field.
The Falcons run more play-action passes (a fake to the running back before throwing it) than anyone else and their multiple threats are the reason they score more than any other team.
24-year-old linebacker Vic Beasley had more sacks (tackling the QB before they can throw the ball) than anyone in the NFL this year.
His 15.5 sacks and six forced fumbles cement him as one of the best young talents currently playing.
If the Falcons are to win then Beasley, along with veteran Dwight Freeney, must have huge games.
Offensive Match-up to Watch
Taylor Gabriel went undrafted in 2014 and was cut by the Cleveland Browns, the worst team in the NFL, last September.
Naturally he went on to become a key reason for the Falcons offensive dominance.
He scored six touchdowns this year and has the speed to take any short pass all the way to the end zone.
A key match-up in the Super Bowl will be Gabriel against Patriots defensive back Logan Ryan, who himself has had a fantastic year shutting down slot wide receivers.
Defensive Match-up to Watch
Rookie middle linebacker Deion Jones will have a key role to play in the Super Bowl.
The 2016 2nd round pick has made a name for himself by breaking up short passes and using his speed to hunt down running backs and slot receivers.
He has four interceptions and even scored two touchdowns.
Unfortunately for him short passes over the middle are Tom Brady’s favourite hunting ground and the four-time Super Bowl champion quarterback will be trying to manipulate the rookie all day long.
Super Bowl Memories:
In 1999 the Falcons played in Super Bowl 33.
It was their first ever appearance in the big game and it showed. They got beaten 34-19 by the Denver Broncos who were led by hall of fame quarterback John Elway.
In 2014 the Falcons faced off against the Detroit Lions at Wembley Stadium.
They scored three touchdowns to go ahead 21 points but collapsed in the second half, allowing the Lions to storm back and win 22-21 with a final-second field goal deciding the game.
In the early 2000’s Falcons quarterback Michael Vick took the league by storm.
His speed and running style had never been seen before at the QB position and his play would inspire a generation of mobile quarterbacks.
However, in 2007 Vick was charged with operating an inter-state dog fighting venture known as ‘Bad Newz Kennels’.
He spent 23 months in federal prison before returning to the NFL with the Philadelphia Eagles.
Super Bowl Prediction
Patriots 30 - 27 Falcons
The Patriots are the favourites but Super Bowl 51 is certainly not David vs Goliath and the Falcons have every chance to win it.
However they will have to be at their very best against a team with a tough defense, possibly the best quarterback to ever play, and easily the best head coach in the league.
But who doesn't like an underdog.