Matt Ryan has never beaten the Patriots, but Matt Ryan has never been MVP before this season so it’s not beyond the realms of possibility that this could be his year.
Steve Young recently said that Tom Brady will be licking his lips at the prospect of facing the Falcons defence in the Big Show, but I think if the Falcons can keep their Offence on the field this could be quite a close game (particularly compared to last year’s 24-10 thrashing the Broncos dished out to the Panthers). How successful the Falcons are in keeping Brady on the sidelines will depend on how much they lean on their run game and how explosive Julio Jones is. Last time out against the Packers he light their depleted Defensive backfield up, but he has history against the Packers (in 2014 he caught 11 passes for 259 yards) but Logan Ryan will be playing for the Patriots and he has been one of the form Cornerbacks in the league this season. Safety (but former Cornerback) Devin McCourty will probably be spending a lot of time in the vicinity of Julio Jones too which could lead to the Falcons making a lot of shorter throws that could allow them to chew up the clock more easily.
The Patriots have got some great players but their 3 key ingredients are the coaches, obviously Bill Belichick is an NFL legend (even if you don’t like him he’s won 6 Super Bowls as a coach) but Josh McDaniels and Matt Patricia make the dream team of Head Coach and Coordinator’s. McDaniels has won 6 AFC titles and 4 Super Bowls and Patricia has won 2 Super Bowls in the 13 years he’s been associated with the Patriots. The Patriots Offence is probably the most balanced in the league and if the Falcons try to take away Tom Brady’s receiving options then they will just run the ball with LaGarrette Blount or Dion Lewis but if the Falcons pack the box Brady will find Edelman, Amendola, Bennett or Hogan (if he’s fit).
The Falcons have their own Super Bowl winner in Head Coach Dan Quinn, he won it as the Seahawks Defensive Coordinator in 2014 (he also won 3 NFC titles) so he knows what it takes to be successful in the post-season.
I do think the Patriots will run out winners but it should be a more exciting game than last year. The key for the Falcons will be to try and be as balanced on Offence as the Patriots are, even if they have to chase the game abandoning the run will just play straight into Patricia’s hands and then they could be blown away. My main hope is that the officials leave the eccentricity and controversy to Lady GaGa in the halftime show, I wonder if she’ll be able to avoid politics for 20 odd minutes?