Hampden Keil, In Between the Lines staff writer
The Atlanta Falcons are having a dream season. They went 11-5 under second year Head Coach Dan Quinn. Quinn is a defensive specialist, but the offense flourished this season under offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan, who rejuvenated quarterback Matt Ryan. Ryan led the Falcons to their best record since 2012 and had a career season. Ryan has always been good, but this season he was great.
The New England Patriots, on the other hand, are a perennial Super Bowl favorite. Bill Belichick is one of the greatest coaches of all time, and the only quarterback better than Matt Ryan this season was Tom Brady. Brady is a proven winner and competitor as he is about to play in his eighth Super Bowl in sixteen seasons. The Patriots lost to the Denver Broncos last season before the Super Bowl, but I expect them to win this year decisively in their final game of the year.
Prediction: Patriots- 28 Falcons- 17
Jon Day, In Between the Lines editor
Both teams are obviously playing their best football of the year and are coming off huge wins. The Patriots have experience on their side with perhaps the best postseason quarterback of all time in Tom Brady under center. Meanwhile, the Falcons boast superior talent with the likes of Freeman, Jones, and Matt Ryan.
I think everybody is overhyping Brady’s vengeance mission with Roger Goodell. Realistically speaking, it’s the Super Bowl–everybody on both teams will come prepared and ready to play. I think the Falcons can expose the Patriots on defense, specifically by moving Julio Jones around to present different match-ups. Also, I think if Freeman can get a favorable match-up on a Patriots linebacker, it could spell multiple 3rd down conversions for Matty Ice and Co.
Prediction: Falcons-28 Patriots-24
Parker Bolton, In Between the Lines staff writer
The Falcons have had the talent to reach the Super Bowl for about four years now, but what makes them different now is the experience they have. This is coach Dan Quinn’s third super bowl in four years and he is ready to win his first as a Head Coach. Along with offensive superstars Matt Ryan, Julio Jones, and Devonta Freeman, the Falcons Defense is stout as well. Vic Beasley led the NFL with 15.5 sacks this year plus both Deion Jones and Keanu Neal both totaled over 100 tackles on the year.
Meanwhile, the usual suspects are back for the Patriots. Tom Brady refuses to age and seems to be breaking a record every game. Legarrette Blount was a pleasant surprise and turned out to be the feature back for the Pats. Julian Edelman and Chris Hogan have been Brady’s top two targets on the edge and are hard to stop due to their athleticism and route running abilities. Dont’a Hightower had arguably the best season a Patriots linebacker has ever had and he leads one of the stingiest defenses in the NFL.
At the end of the day, Brady is on a mission to prove his legacy and that deflating footballs has nothing to do with winning playoff football games. Brady will get a fifth ring and go down as the most accomplished player in the history of the NFL.
Prediction: Patriots-21 Falcons-17
Brian Stickler, In Between the Lines staff writer
Pats, Pats, Pats. If that still isn’t enough to convince you that the Patriots are going to win the Super Bowl, Tom Brady is locked in on revenge for his 4 game suspension earlier this season. What a better stage to do it than the Super Bowl. Brady has the distinct ability to make others around him better. Nothing against the Falcons–they are a fantastic football team–but they just happen to be on the wrong side of history. Brady will win his 5th Super Bowl ring and cement his status as the best quarterback in the history of the league.
Prediction: Patriots-31 Falcons-17
Cam Litzsinger, In Between the Lines staff writer
It’s tough to go against a new and flashy team in the Super Bowl. However, this year experience is again going to overshadow flare. The Atlanta Falcons have performed at an incredible level this postseason, outscoring Green Bay and Seattle 80-41 combined. With that being said, this story of a MVP quarterback, Matt Ryan, combined with a high powered offense sounds familiar. Just a year ago it was a Hall of fame QB Peyton Manning taking on the new and lovable Cam Newton, who, like Ryan, had little experience. We know how that game ended. Brady and Belichick are masterminds of the game. Experience will again pull through over the flash. Tom Brady and the New England Patriots will win the Super Bowl in a nail biting 27-24 victory. History repeats itself.
Prediction: Patriots-27 Falcons-24
Avery Robbins, In Between the Lines staff writer
Look at all this chalk. Unbelievable. Sometimes people are scared to go out on a limb and take a chance these days. Of course the Patriots are the easy pick. They have Super Bowl experience, a great Head Coach, and have been dominating teams throughout the year. Remember when Tom Brady won his first title, though? In 2002, he took down the Greatest Show on Turf, the St. Louis Rams and defied the odds. I love touchdown Tom, but it’s going to be the Matty Ice show in the 4th quarter come Sunday. I think the Falcons are feeling very confident and have run through the NFC without a real team testing them. I like the dirty birds to come on top of the easy-pick Patriots in a high-scoring affair.
Prediction: Falcons-38 Patriots-34