One simple question remains as the last game of the NFL season approaches: Will the New England Patriots or the Atlanta Falcons come out on top?
Shahan Kamal: The Patriots have the league's best record, (arguably) best defense and probably the best quarterback of all time. On that note, I'm still taking the Falcons in the big game. The Falcons have the league's sack leader Vic Beasley and QB Matt Ryan has been unstoppable so far in the playoffs. Not only that, Ryan was arguably the MVP this year while leading the NFL’s highest-scoring offense. Pittsburgh and Houston couldn't put up points on the Patriots defense, but Atlanta scorched almost every defense they played this year. The offensive weapons at their disposal are about as good as it gets. On top of all of that, the game isn't in Foxborough, so home-field advantage won't help the Patriots.
Connor Donahue: The Falcons are dangerous, but I'm extremely confident in the New England Patriots. With the return of Dante Scarnecchia this year, the Patriots offensive line has been much improved. Tom Brady also has a MVP-caliber resume, throwing 28 touchdowns and two interceptions in 12 games. The Pats don't turn over the ball all that much. They have just as many weapons on offense with Edelman, Bennett, Blount, Lewis and the emergence of Chris Hogan. Sure, the Patriots don't have home field advantage, but there's something to be said for postseason experience, and that's one thing the Pats have a lot of.
Kamal: Although I agree that experience plays a huge role, the Falcons have played near perfectly in the postseason. Both the Packers and Seahawks were far more experienced in the playoffs, but that didn't seem to be the case when watching them play Atlanta. This is a team on fire, and they're coming in as underdogs. The Patriots are the toughest task, but the Falcons have to beat them to prove they're just as good. I think Kyle Shanahan will have put together the perfect game plan over the last two weeks while his star players healed up. Even if Malcolm Butler locks up Julio Jones, Atlanta's running backs are a scary bunch that could wreak havoc in Houston. It's a great matchup between the best offense and best defense and the Falcons are going to be Super Bowl champions for the first time.
Donahue: I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t scared of this Atlanta offense. But I’m more than confident in Matt Patricia having this New England defense ready to go. Devin McCourty is a premiere safety in the NFL, Butler will eat Julio Jones for breakfast and this defensive-line of Alan Branch, Rob Ninkovich and company will keep the Falcons’ backs in check. I only have one concern when it comes to the Patriots in the Super Bowl and his name is Elijah Manning. Last time I checked, he’s not playing in the Super Bowl. Tom Brady wins a ring for the thumb on Sunday.