NFC Champions Atlanta Falcons prepare for Super Bowl LI

The Atlanta Falcons face on one of the best defensive teams in the NFL, The New England Patriots. Image from sportslogos.net.
The Atlanta Falcons face on one of the best defensive teams in the NFL, The New England Patriots. Image from sportslogos.net.

The Atlanta Falcons (12-5) have booked their ticket to Houston. In the Falcons’ last ever game in the Georgia Dome, Atlanta advanced to their second Super Bowl in franchise history after a 44-21 rout of the Green Bay Packers. They are the only team to close out a stadium with a conference championship game victory.

Atlanta Quarterback Matt Ryan threw for 392 yards and 4 touchdowns, completing 27 of his 38 attempts, and had a rushing touchdown. He becomes only the fourth quarterback to have 4 touchdowns and a rushing touchdown in a playoff game.

Wide Receiver Julio Jones caught 9 receptions for 180 yards and 2 touchdowns. Atlanta has been among the top teams in the National Football Conference (NFC) all season, but a six-game win streak has put them in position to possibly win the franchise’s first Super Bowl.

The Atlanta Falcons have the best offense in the National Football League (NFL), averaging 33.8 points per game. Offensive Coordinator Kyle Shanahan is among the top offensive minds in the league and has plenty of explosive players to work with.

NFC Championship game MVP and NFL MVP candidate, Matt Ryan has been outstanding throughout the 2016-2017 season. Ryan posted a Quarterback Rating of 117.1 during the regular season, which not only ranked first in the league, but also ranked fifth all time.

Ryan threw for 4,944 yards and 38 touchdowns during the regular season. Also, Ryan failed to throw under 230 yards in a game all season.

Accompanying Matt Ryan is another MVP candidate and Matt Ryan’s favorite target, Atlanta’s biggest weapon offensively, Julio Jones. In his sixth season, out of Alabama, Julio Jones has become one of the best wide receivers in the NFL.

During the regular season, Jones had 83 receptions for 1,409 yards and 6 touchdowns. Devonta Freeman, a third-year man, out of Florida State University, will carry most of the load out of the backfield. During the regular season, Freeman carried the ball 227 times for 1,079 yards and 11 touchdowns.

On the defensive side of the ball, the Falcons’ defense has been solid all season. They average only 25.4 points against per game which ranks twenty-seventh in the league out of thirty-two teams.

Atlanta’s defense is led by Rookie Linebacker Deion Jones, out of LSU, who led the team in tackles during the regular season, with 108. He also leads the Falcons in interceptions with 3.

Jones will be relying on fellow Linebacker Vic Beasley Jr., a second-year man, out of Clemson. Beasley Jr. led the team in sacks during the regular season with 15.5, and wrapped up 39 tackles as well. The Linebacker duo will be a key factor defensively for the Falcons.

The NFC Champion Atlanta Falcons enter Super Bowl LI playing exciting football. If the Falcons are going to bring the Lombardi Trophy back to Atlanta, Matt Ryan must have 300+ yards throwing the football.

Ryan is surrounded by playmakers at the wide receiver and tight-end positions, and has good protection from his offensive line. However, if Atlanta fails to run the football, their passing game will be limited. Devonta Freeman needs to run close to 100 yards to open up the play-action pass, but that will not be an easy feat against the tough New England Defense.

Defensively, the Falcons will face one of the best offensive teams in the NFL, and arguably one of the best quarterbacks of all time. The Atlanta secondary cannot let Patriot’s quarterback Tom Brady pick them apart.

Vic Beasley Jr. must get in the New England backfield and pressure the future Hall-of-Fame Quarterback. Brady will throw completions, that is inevitable, but making New England run the football and defending the long bomb will give the Falcons the best chance to win their first Lombardi Trophy.

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