The numbers and history say to take the safe route and go with the home team, but they play the games for a reason.
New England has ruled the AFC conference for over a decade, and they have been in the last six straight AFC Conference championship games, and they have won four Super Bowl titles under the leadership of the Tom Brady-Bill Belichick era. The Falcons (13-5) are an exciting offensive machine with an improving defense and a coach likely to entertain in Dan Quinn.
How does their production compare historically? . The 2004 Indianapolis Colts, 2011 New Orleans Saints and the 2000 Rams. The Falcons just blew out Pete Carroll's team and then Aaron Rodgers'. While Weddle will be replacing Patriots' safety Devin McCourty, Alexander will be replacing Patriots' special teamer Matthew Slater, a perennial Pro Bowl participant himself when he is not too busy suiting up for the Super Bowl.
Falcons defenders know the mobility of Rodgers makes it perilous to breathe easy any time before the whistle. Only three teams have turned the ball over 11 or fewer times in a regular season. New England and Atlanta are certainly capable of that.
How do they do it? Ryan was an apprentice of sorts to Tony Gonzalez, the most productive tight end in league history, who took a near fanatical approach to his diet and training regimen. They ran roughshod over the Green Bay Packers with a 44-21 win in the NFC Championship game, scoring on their four of their first five possessions of the game and rolling to a 24-0 lead at halftime. But in 2016 his play elevated to a level only seen by the likes of Tom Brady, Aaron Rodgers and Drew Brees. Matty Ice set a franchise record by throwing for 4,944 yards this season and has proven several times this year that no lead is safe against his offense. Mohamed Sanu and Devonta Freeman also scored through the air. The Patriots seemingly change wideouts, running backs, and defensive stars and just keep winning. The balance of two weapons out of the backfield and Jones as a deep threat have been a nightmare for opposing defenses.
He blazed down the middle of the field, shook off LaDarius Gunter's attempt to grab him on a cut toward the sideline, hauled in the pass from Ryan, broke Gunter's diving attempt at tackle, and defiantly knocked away Damarious Randall's with a brutal stiff-arm on the way to a 73-yard touchdown. The 2008 Cardinals made it to Super Bowl XLIII, but lost to Pittsburgh, with an opponent passer rating of 96.8 that was the fourth-worst among all playoff teams. This offers a true strength-on-strength matchup with Atlanta's high-octane offense, which averaged almost 34 points.
Super Bowl LI is at NRG Stadium in Houston and will feature the Atlanta Falcons and New England Patriots.
If they win the Super Bowl, they'll become the second team in National Football League history to beat three consecutive Super Bowl-winning quarterbacks in the postseason.
As for the Falcons, they knew the defense would have to go through some growing pains.