Sunday 25 March 2018 / 03:02 AM


It’s all come down to this: Super Bowl LI. And with a new member to the party, the Atlanta Falcons are looking to stop another chapter in the dynasty of the New England Patriots. And if you’re name isn’t the New York Giants, that can be increasingly hard to do.

But, Atlanta’s a much more talented team than what the Patriots are used to getting throughout this season, but the same could be said for the Patriots. So what would the Vegas upset look like? How can the Falcons stop Brady and company from exerting their will all over again, and have Bill Belichick from hoisting another Lombardi Trophy? Well, it’ll be pretty hard.

Establish a Run

The Patriots defensive line is a point of weakness on a defense that hasn’t much had one. But, that line is vulnerable, but so has been the offensive line for Atlanta. The Falcons are going to have to keep the line of scrimmage in tact, and that means pushing Devonta Freeman and company ahead to gain yards. Atlanta likes to air it out, but keeping Tom Brady off the field is going to be the main mission. I don’t care how good your offense is, do you really trust Matt Ryan in a shootout with Brady?

Get After Brady

We’ve touched on this before, but this one is a glaring point: Brady is just 2-7 as a starter in the last five years when he’s been sacked four times or more. That Falcons pass rush is capable of doing it, and getting after Brady is certainly on Dan Quinn’s “to-do” list. But, it’s easier said than done: the Patriots feature one of the top offensive lines in football, and Brady is crafty under pressure. There’s a big difference in pressuring Brady and hitting him, as Brady is one of the NFL’s best against the blitz.

Don’t Give Up the Middle

The Falcons back end is probably their point of the most weakness, and it’s been their focus in practice all week. Namely, that defense is going to have to force Brady to throw to the sidelines. Chris Hogan and the slot receivers lit up the Steelers, and they’ve shown that they like Brady throwing into the heart of defenses. And let’s face it: it’s demoralizing. If Atlanta wants to give Matt Ryan and the offense any chances, they’ll have to prevent Brady from screening and slanting them to death.

Decoy Julio Jones

Look, we know that Julio Jones will eventually get his. That’s a given in any game. But he’s going to be facing one of the best secondary’s in football, and you better believe he’ll get some added attention. That means its on the secondary receivers to show up. While the supporting cast has played nicely, it’s been behind some big days from Jones. That can’t be expected here, and Matt Ryan is going to need some help, as I’d imagine he’s going to be facing pressure. Which leads us to:

Keep Ryan Upright

We’ve talked about this a little with the running game, but pass protection has been a strong point for the Falcons thus far in the season. But the edge rushers and linebackers they’ll get against New England are better than anyone they’ve seen outside of Carolina and Denver. They’ll look to disrupt the pocket, and they have to let their franchise guy make plays.

Let Matt Ryan Be Matt Ryan

Look, what’s gotten the Falcons this far is the their unwillingness to put Ryan in any situation that doesn’t comfort him. He’s not Drew Brees, and he’s not Cam Newton. And that’s okay: let Ryan do his thing and play to the strengths of the team. He doesn’t need to outduel Tom Brady for these guys to have success, he just has to take whatever he’s given in the coverage. Ryan is every bit a good enough quarterback to win this thing, and you have to let him prove it.

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About the author

Austin Albertson

Austin is CBS' senior NFL and NBA analyst, bringing you commentary on everything between the lines and inside the hashes, from the film room to the scoreboard.

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