The Atlanta Falcons will enter Super Bowl LI with the same game plan that had used all season. Let the run set up the pass. That’s easier said than done with the New England Patriots coming into Sunday’s game with a top 3 defense against the run but the Falcons are not like any team the Pats have faced.
Matt Ryan is clearly the MVP this season but he had plenty of help along the way. Julio Jones may have passed Antonio Brown as the best WR in the NFL but the offense starts in the backfield. As good as Jones is, he’s that much dangerous when Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman break through the first line of defenders.
There’s no sane coach in the NFL that will dare play Jones with single coverage but, the Falcons may force the Pats to do just that. As strong as the Pats run defense is they have yet to go against a tandem of runners like Freeman and Coleman. No, neither is a household name outside of Atlanta but they will decide Super Bowl LI.
In 18 games this season the Pats defense has surrendered 100 yards on the ground only seven times. A great stat but when looking at their schedule, how many dominant ground teams did they face? Arizona Cardinals, Buffalo Bills and the Pittsburgh Steelers. While each of those teams is mainly one back offenses the Pats have not faced a backfield like the Falcons yet. The speed of both the runners will keep the LBs on their heels. If Coleman or Freeman can get through the line of scrimmage then the Pats defense will be faced with a dilemma. Do you bring an extra defender in and risk Jones and Ryan connecting over the top of fake a blitz only to see Jones come across the middle and take one 70 yards to the house?
For the season the Falcons have the 5th most rushing yards in the NFL but only rank 12th in attempts. That says they can hit the holes and get the yardage needed without burning their legs. Freeman rushed for 1079 yards on 227 attempts and Coleman rushed for 520 on 118 attempts. Both backs averaged 4+ yards per carry, I forgot to mention the 85 receptions between the two as well.
The Pats defense will have their hands full with Ryan and Jones but the game will start with a heavy dose of Freeman and Coleman.