By Marin Murphy
The number one scoring offense and the number one scoring defense in the NFL match up for the Super Bowl on February 5th. Matt Ryan leads the Atlanta Falcons and has his sights set on his first Super Bowl title. On Sunday, the Falcons clearly outplayed the Packers, earning a final score of 44-21 in the NFC conference championship. Critical plays in the game included Ryan’s 14-yard run for a touchdown in the second quarter, bringing the score to 17-0. This play revealed Ryan’s mobility in the pocket, making it challenging for his opponents to play against him. Another critical play was Julio Jones’ 73-yard completion for a touchdown in the 3rd quarter, bringing the Falcons to a 31-0 lead. Jones is the wide receiver to look for, as he is heading into the Super Bowl having scored two of the Falcons’ six touchdowns in Sunday’s game. Another key player to keep an eye out for is the Falcons’ dangerous running back, Devante Freeman, a fourth-round draft pick from Florida State. He scored a touchdown in the third quarter on Sunday, bringing the score to 37-7.
Bill Belichick and Tom Brady head into their record seventh Super Bowl. The Patriots dominated the entire game against the Steelers last Sunday. Benjamin Roethlisberger of the Steelers, another great quarterback from this generation, struggled to move the ball up the field against the Patriots’ stellar defense.
In the absence of Rob Gronkowski, who sustained a pulmonary contusion to his lung and underwent subsequent back surgery, Patriots running backs Dion Lewis and LeGarrette Blount, as well as wide receiver Chris Hogan, have stepped up their game. Although Lewis and Blount play a much less physical game than Gronkowski, they bring a new level of speed and agility to the team. Hogan scored the first touchdown of the game, bringing the Patriots ahead 10-0, along with a touchdown in the second quarter, giving the Patriots some security by bringing the score to 17-6. Of course, the Patriots’ stacked offense also includes wide receiver Julian Edelman, who scored his own touchdown in the third quarter to bring the Patriots up 33-9.
Of course, we can’t forget about the Patriots’ number one scoring defense! If the Patriots’ defense can keep Atlanta out of the end zone and force Matt Bryant to kick field goals, Belichick and Brady will come up with their seventh Super Bowl title. However, if the Patriots’ defense isn’t outstanding, it will be challenging to defeat the Falcons because of Ryan’s mobility, patience in the pocket, and ability to throw accurately for completions to so many different players. Both teams proved that they can score a plethora of points under pressure in the conference championships. The Falcons scored 44 points, while the Patriots scored 36 points. With two strong offensive teams, the Super Bowl will come down to defense. If the Patriots’ defense arrives to play, then it will be difficult for the Falcons to win because the Patriots’ offense will most likely dominate the Falcons’ defense. I predict that the Patriots will be the champions of a high-scoring, very close game.