The Falcons received a few gifts along the way to power to this point too. Seattle’s missed extra point in the regular season gave the Falcons the No. 2 seed, and then they beat up on a flawed and injured Seahawks team in the divisional round, and a flawed defensive team in Green Bay in the NFC Title game. Both were at home where Atlanta plays its best.
Today’s game is an evenly matched affair, which either the Falcons will win by a close margin, or the Patriots will win by a TD or more. New England’s experience is why they are three point favorites.
When New England has the ball, expect Brady and McDaniels to mix up the formations, looks and play calling to keep the Falcons D on its toes. The Falcons D is slightly better than average but becomes more formidable when they can get a lead and pin their ears back. New England will work to not let them accomplish this. Expect a heavy dose of LeGarrett Blount early and a short passing attack with Julian Edleman as the focal point. That’ll open up plays down the field.
When Atlanta has the ball, they’ll need to spread it around because the Patriots primary focus will be taking WR Julio Jones out of the game. That’s a difficult prospect but that is what Belichick does. The Falcons will therefore feed the ball to RB Freeman and Coleman, and that’ll open the pass game for Sanu and Gabriel. Matt Ryan is playing lights out and he’ll have success today, even against the Patriots stingy D.
As the clock hits 0:00, expect New England to win by a score of 30-24. The Falcons have played well and performed well on the road this year, but giving Belichick two weeks to prepare always gives these Pats an edge, and experience will win out again in this one.