6 Reasons Why the Atlanta Falcons Will Win Super Bowl LI

Posted by Peter Boysen on January 23, 2017 in

It has been 18 years since the Atlanta Falcons last appeared in a Super Bowl, as they took on the Denver Broncos in Super Bowl XXXIII down in Miami. Back then, the Falcons’ quarterback was Chris Chandler, who led Atlanta to a franchise record 14-2 regular season, a major improvement from a 7-9 campaign the year before. That was the Falcons’ first Super Bowl appearance, which they lost, 34-19, but now they return to the biggest game in the NFL behind the likely MVP Matt Ryan at quarterback. They routed Green Bay in the NFC Championship to earn a date with New England down in Houston. After you read our logic here, take a look at our Super Bowl LI betting picks.

6 Reasons Why the Atlanta Falcons Will Win Super Bowl LI

They have the NFL’s best offense

Atlanta averages 33 points per game, seventh best in the history of the NFL. They have the #2 passing offense and the #5 rushing offense, based on yard gained per game. Julio Jones leads a strong receiving corps, and both tailbacks — Tevin Coleman and Devonta Freeman — can pound the opposition and break off big runs, as they showed repeatedly against Green Bay. Quarterback Matt Ryan is the first signal-caller in the storied history of the NFL to start all 16 regular season games and average over 9.25 yards per passing attempt.

They finally made a commitment to defense

The rub on the Falcons in earlier years of the Matt Ryan era has been a soft defense. Sure, they could stack up the points, but they couldn’t get key stops when they need to. They still don’t have the best defense in the league, but thanks to Vic Beasley — the NFL’s leader in sacks — they have a pass rush. If you don’t think a pass rush matters, go talk to Dallas head coach Jason Garrett, who saw another season come to an end in a game in which his defensive line couldn’t get near the opposing quarterback. Beasley leads a quick aggressive Atlanta defense.

The coach will roll the dice

Dan Quinn likes to throw the ball on first down — typically a running down for many offenses. He likes to go for it on fourth down when the yardage to gain is short, and he went for two six times after touchdowns during the regular season. That kind of trust for one’s offense builds morale — and saps the confidence of the opposition when those gambles pay off.

The secondary has grown up

The Falcons drafted cornerback Jalen Collins before the 2015 regular season, and they added rookie corner Brian Poole this year. Despite the fact that they are young, they have gotten a ton of playing time — and the combination of talent and experience has paid big dividends, so even when cornerback Desmond Trufant went down to a pectoral injury in Week 9, the secondary has still been terrific. Rookie safety Keanu Neal has become a dangerous weapon, closing in and nailing receivers, as Quinn is putting together a new “Legion of Boom” in Atlanta.

The secondary made an important adjustment

Early in the season, opponents would torch the Cover 3 defense that Atlanta was playing, particularly with deep crossing routes run on diagonals. The youngsters on defense would focus on the underneath reads, ignoring the receiver getting closer until it was too late. The coaches told the linebackers and the safety to play a little deeper against the trips formations that exploited this opening the most, and that made a big difference, as did the choice to mix in some man coverage.

Don’t overlook the center

The Falcons added center Alex Mack in the off-season, which might have been their best free agency acquisition. Pro Football Focus rates him their second highest center in the NFL, and his leadership has anchored a line that features a lot of young blockers. Football Outsiders ranked Atlanta at #15 in Adjusted Line Yards (3.82) last year, but this year they have come up to #10 (4.09). That boost to the rushing game has helped take a lot of pressure off Matt Ryan.