It’s finally here, the Friday before the Superbowl. We’ve waited 19 years for this moment. I remember being six year old kid in Riverdale,Georgia, cheering on an Atlanta Falcons team lead by Jamal Anderson, Chris Chandler, Jessie Tuggle and Dan Reeves. That year we shocked the world by defeating the heavily favorite Minnesota Vikings team 30-27 in overtime, on a 38 – yard field goal by Morten Anderson. I remember feeling a wave of excitement from a city three years removed from its first championship (Atlanta Braves 1995). That excitement would be short-lived as the Atlanta Falcons would go down to the Denver Broncos, led by John Elway, 34-19.
Fast-forward 19 years. The Atlanta Falcons are back in the Superbowl, with the same excitement from a city that is now 22 years removed from its last championship (Atlanta Braves 1995). The birds opened up three point underdogs going into Sunday’s game. They are going up against, perhaps, the greatest NFL coach and quarterback duo of all-time. We find ourselves in a similar situation that we faced 19 years ago. We are playing a championship game against a great quarterback nearing the end of his career looking to go out on top. However, something is different. This year’s Atlanta Falcons team found themselves among the eight most prolific offenses in NFL history, averaging just over 33 points per game (1st), 415 yard per game (2nd) with 120 rush yards (5th). We have an MVP quarterback in Matt Ryan, the greatest receiver in the game today, Julio Jones, a two headed monster in Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman and a much improved defense that has eliminated two top five quarterbacks already.
This Sunday, Tom Brady and Bill Belichick look to go for their fifth Superbowl, which would be most for a head coach and quarterback in NFL history. Many believe the two will accomplish this feat. Hell, history even says it. Whenever the top ranked offense faces a top ranked defense in the Superbowl, the top ranked defense comes out the winner. But, this year is different. Many believe our defense is young and incapable of putting pressure on Brady. However, we’ve seen a defense go from allowing 28 points per game to allowing 20 points per game over the last 10 games. Dan Quinn has done a remarkable job of trying to mirror that once vaunted Seattle defense. Sunday, Feb. 5, 2017, 6:30 pm EST, all the talk will cease to exist. History will be made either way.
Of course, I’m rolling with the dirty birds in a rout 56-19. Seems crazy, but the Falcons can score points fast. Look for the birds to put the world on notice. The Falcons’ defense will have Tom Brady, as Stephen A. Smith puts it, “tap dancing like the late great Gregory Hines”. Pressure will be coming at Brady from all angles. Julio Jones, Matt Ryan or Vic Beasley will win Superbowl MVP. Book it!