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Bleacher Report – Vikings

Falcons ride all-time great offense into Super Bowl

By Matthew Coller

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The last time the Atlanta Falcons landed in the Super Bowl, they eliminated one of the most prolific offenses the NFL has ever seen in the 1998 Minnesota Vikings. This time around, the Falcons are the ones with that will bring a historically great offensive attack to The Big Game.

Atlanta throttled Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers in the NFC Championship game 44-21 on Sunday. The Falcons made it quite clear from the opening drive that they could not be stopped, marching 16 plays for 80 yards and a touchdown. While the Green Bay defense was far from impressive this year, the Falcons have been soaring over opposing defenses all year, leading the NFL with 33.8 points per game.

How does their production compare historically?

– The Falcons are one of just 15 teams since 1970 to post 30-plus points in 10 or more regular season games and 11 of those teams made the Super Bowl.

– Only three teams in history have averaged more than the Falcons’ 6.7 Yards Per Offensive Play. The 2004 Indianapolis Colts, 2011 New Orleans Saints and the 2000 Rams.

– Peyton Manning in 2004 and Aaron Rodgers in 2011 are the only teams to register a higher passer rating than Matt Ryan’s 117.1 rating. He is one of only nine QBs to even clear a 110 rating, seven of them went on to the Super Bowl.

– The Falcons only turned the ball over 11 times in 2016. Only three teams have turned the ball over 11 or fewer times in a regular season. This year’s New England Patriots have 11 as did the 2010 Patriots and 2011 San Francisco 49ers.

How do they do it?

Matt Ryan has been a top end quarterback. He had appeared in three Pro Bowls, won 10-plus games four times and thrown for 4,000-plus yards four times before this season. But in 2016 his play elevated to a level only seen by the likes of Tom Brady, Aaron Rodgers and Drew Brees. He set a career high with 4,944 yards and led the NFL in Touchdown Percentage, Yards Per Attempt QB rating and the ESPN stat QBR.

The Falcons were able to maximize the abilities of Julio Jones, who averaged 17.0 yards per receptions and made 37 catches of 10 yards or more for an average of 24.5 yards per catch. When throwing the ball between 21-30 yards through the air, Ryan went 17-for-33 with a 136.7 rating.

Devonta Freeman was one of the NFL’s top duel-threat running backs. Photo credit: USA Today

Atlanta’s star quarterback has also had two running backs who are duel threats. Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman combined for 85 receptions and 2,482 total yards from scrimmage. The balance of two weapons out of the backfield and Jones as a deep threat have been a nightmare for opposing defenses.

Ryan has thrown touchdowns to 13 different players this year and No. 2 receiver Mohamed Sanu and Taylor Gabriel both caught more than 70% of passes thrown their way.

How have other great offenses fared in the Super Bowl?

The results have been mixed for the best offenses of the last 20 years. The New York Giants twice defeated historically good New England patriots offenses in 2007 and 2011, but in between the New Orleans Saints and Green Bay Packers won Super Bowls on the back of two of the greatest quarterback seasons of all time from Brees and Rodgers.

The same can be said for the 2002 Tampa Bay Bucs, who shut down an incredible Oakland Raiders offense, but their victory was followed by back-to-back Super Bowl wins by Tom Brady and the Patriots.

So the Falcons’ offensive prowess doesn’t guarantee them a ring, but they should be considered the favorite since they won’t be going up against an all-time good defense.

The post Falcons ride all-time great offense into Super Bowl appeared first on 1500 ESPN Twin Cities.

Source:: 1500 ESPN Sportswire

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