Matt Ryan vs. Tom Brady. The two All-Pro QBs and MVP candidates will face-off in two weeks, and it seems absolutely fitting.
The Patriots finished the season with a 14-2 record and have been nearly unstoppable since Tom Brady came back from his four game suspension. They were the number three scoring offense (behind Atlanta and New Orleans) and feature the best scoring defense in the league, giving up a measly 15.6 points per game.
Advanced stats tell a slightly different story, as the Patriots benefited from playing some very poor teams during the year. Defensively, their DVOA ranking is only 16 with their passing D ranking 23rd and their running D ranking 4th. They were in the middle of the league with 34 sacks, the same as the Falcons. Offensively, though, they are legit. They ranked second in overall DVOA (only the Falcons ranked higher), with their passing offense ranking 2nd and their rushing offense ranking 17th.
Make no bones about it: this is a very good team, and will not roll over for any team.
The Atlanta Falcons finished the regular season with an 11-5 record and have been one of the hottest teams in the NFL to close out the regular season. Matt Ryan has been a legitimate MVP candidate and has been even better in the playoffs. During the regular season, they featured one of the best all-time NFL offenses, leading the league in scoring with Matt Ryan setting like a bajillion records along the way. They averaged almost 34 points per game and averaged almost 40 in the last 6 games alone. Defensively, this was not a great unit, giving up almost 26 points per game.
Advanced stats affirm that the Falcons offense is really that good. They were first in overall DVOA, first in passing DVOA and 7th in rushing DVOA. Put simply, this offense may be the most complete offense in the NFL this year, able to beat you from nearly anywhere on the field. Defensively, the Falcons ranked 27th overall, 19th against the pass and 29th against the run. This is a young defense that is improving, but their body of work in 2016 was not impressive overall.
The Match Up
This Super Bowl could be yet another offensive shootout, as the top two offenses in the NFL square off. The Patriots defense has been good all year, but lacks the big name pass rusher that makes a difference. The Falcons defense is young, but may be trending up at the right time. Ultimately, though, this game will likely come down to Matt Ryan vs. Tom Brady - the two leading MVP candidates.
This promises to be a great Super Bowl, and one well worth watching.