Those who are statistical fanatics, would prefer to examine specific data like the ranking of the receivers on 3rd down passing situations (based on the various field positions) and the quantity of knockdowns and sacks in a progression mode from the first game to the 18th game.
For this post, we decided not to dwell into the statistical specifics (the injuries, the quality of opposition, the depth, the offensive efficiency, the defensive efficiency, the individual offensive vs the opposing defensive match-up, the coaching comparisons, etc) of both teams, lets focus on a simple projection of this Super Bowl game.
The Grand Projection
The Pro-Patriots Scenario
Patriots win if the two or more of the following three conditions occurred:
- the Patriots scores first while implementing a slowdown methodical run game that prevents the Atlanta offense from getting on the field;
- the Falcons running backs cannot consistently penetrate toward the 2nd line of the defense; and
- the Falcons passing game is nullified if the Pats pass rush influences the Falcons quarterback.
Approach#1: Influencing the opponent to implement their alternative offensive option
The Bill Belichick's Patriots defended the St Louis Rams by implementing a defensive backs-based defensive approach in 2002. Challenging them to run the ball while preventing them from passing the ball.
Approach#2: Influencing the opponent to play defense
In 1991, NY Giants defended the Buffalo Bills by keeping their high scoring offense off the field. They effectively ran the ball into the heart of the Buffalo's defense while preventing the Bills from getting the ball. Bill Belichick was the Giants defensive coordinator who ran a defensive backs-based "bend but don't break" defensive alignment where they dared the Buffalo offense to run the ball because they understood the tendencies of the opposing QB and the limitations of their offensive scheme.
Andre Reed, a former Buffalo Bills player also believes in this possibility.
While Atlanta possesses the capability to play "the comeback and catch up" offense, we doubted if their defense can dominate the New England's offense.
The Pro-Falcons Scenario
The Falcons could win as long if they score first and dominates the ball possession time factor by passing the ball and completing intermediate routes and long passes consistently with the tactical approach of numeric mismatches. The consistency of positive passing will not only spread the opposing offense, but it will stage them to execute inside run plays
Atlanta could surprise New England with a hurry up no huddle offense approach on the first two drives of the game. If they score on both drives and if Patriots offense is not able to respond with their own scores, the NE fans will be expecting a long day.
If Matt Ryan (Falcons QB) consistently hits his receivers on those intermediate to long routes, we expected Falcons to win. However, if the Pats defense are able to influence Ryan to run and pass or influences the Falcons to execute their run game , their chances to shutting down the Falcons offense increases.
The lynchpin of the Falcons offensive success begins with the center of the offensive line. ... If the all-pro center Alex Mack is unable to play 100%, the Falcons passing game will falter. ... One can expect the New England's defense's to pressure him to break. Do not expect the second string player behind Mack to perform in the same level as the starter. ... Historically, most second string players are usually unable to play up to that level in a championship game of this magnitude.
Predictions of Possible Scenarios
This game is a contest between the top scoring offense vs. the top scoring defense.
If the Falcons takes a minimum of 10 points lead into half time, the advantage favors them.
If the game is even or near parity, the special teams on both sides become quite relevant. Experience-wise, New England has a slight edge in this category.
In this competitive terrain, securing the two second advantage is the name of the game. Research tells us that both teams have been able to adjust on the fly, especially if the game goes sideways for them.
If the New England Patriots win, the total score will be under 58.5 points.
However, if the Falcons win, the total score will be over 58.5 points (if the game becomes a shootout).
/// If the game did not go overtime, the total points would have been under 58.5. Final Score: NE Patriots 32 Atl. Falcons 28
In summary, the Falcons possesses the grand advantage of winning regardless of the score because of their high powered offense, where the Pats would only prevail in an "under" game.
The Grand Football Maxim
Offense scores and thrills the crowds. Nonetheless, it is always the defense that wins the championships.
Before watching the game, wear your blue or gray hoodie and/or read your copy of Sunzi's Art of War. :) This might evoke your strategic mind. ... It might help you in the practice of knowing the next three moves in any endeavor that one pursues. ... By knowing the next three possible moves, the successful strategist is ahead of the curve.