Rankings are from the final regular season stats. Numbers represent overall and specific NFL rankings by points except pass/run ranked by yardage. Depending on who has the ball, compare offense/defense strengths in pass/run yardage to anticipate best game plan. Top five in each category are bolded. Red font for best in each category.
Sunday, Feb 5, 4:30 PM MT FOX
#1 New England at #2 Atlanta at NRG Stadium, Houston
NE Offense #3: 3 Pass 25 Run Atlanta Offense #1: 1 Pass 5 Run
Atlanta Defense #27: 11 Pass 26 Run NE Defense #1: 8 Pass 8 Run
Well, we’ve got the #1 and # 2 best teams in the NFL playing each other in the Super Bowl. We’ve also got the #1 offense against the #1 defense. There’s good reason to hope for an exciting matchup.
NE’s Strengths: Top team in the NFL (net points). Best defense in the NFL (points against). Third best offense in the NFL (points for). Third best pass offense in the NFL (yds per attempt).
NE’s Weaknesses: Weak running offense, eighth worst in the NFL (yds per attempt).
Atlanta’s Strengths: Second best team in the NFL (net points). Best offense in the NFL (points for). Best pass offense in the NFL (yds per attempt). Fifth best run offense in the NFL (yds per attempt).
Atlanta’s Weaknesses: Weak defense, sixth worst in the NFL (points against). Weak run defense, seventh worst in the NFL (yds per attempt).
When NE has the ball:
NE Offense #3: 3 Pass 25 Run
Atlanta Defense #27: 11 Pass 26 Run
NE has one of the best passing offenses with Tom Brady going against a respectable Atlanta pass defense. NE’s weak running offense is matched by Atlanta’s equally weak run defense. NE should mix their run/pass offense but should mostly pass.
When Atlanta has the ball:
Atlanta Offense #1: 1 Pass 5 Run
NE Defense #1: 8 Pass 8 Run
This will be the best part of the game – the NFL’s best offense against the best defense. Atlanta’s offensive coordinator extraordinaire, Kyle Shanahan and QB Matt Ryan along with his array of receivers and running backs, have put together a dazzling offense that is stunning and seems able to strike at will. Against GB, except for two possessions, they scored every time they had the ball. NE’s #1 defense will be sorely challenged. Like NE, Atlanta should mix their run/pass offense but mostly pass.
This could be a surprisingly exciting and close game. Although NE beats Atlanta in net points scored, Atlanta edges NE in yards. That often means a possible upset. This will almost certainly be a shootout between the two top guns in the NFL with Atlanta’s strong running game as an added factor. The fourth quarter could be interesting if it’s close. It might even come down to who has the ball last. Even though Atlanta and NE are tied for the NFL’s second-best turnover ratio, if push came to shove especially near the end, it’s possible NE’s top defense could more likely intercept Ryan than Atlanta intercepting Brady. That could be the game right there. On the other hand, if it comes down to a field goal at the end, Atlanta makes 92% of its field goals compared to NE’s 84%.
Projected Winner: New England