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Bleacher Report – Vikings

Patriots, Falcons can salvage dull postseason with Super Bowl classic

By Matthew Coller

Let’s be straight: Outside of two games, the NFL’s postseason has been a snooze fest.

ESPN’s Adam Schefter pointed out that eight of the 10 games have been virtually unwatchable past the first half.

So far this NFL postseason, 10 games, eight blowouts. Football Playoff Gods need to be better in Houston and Super Bowl LI.

— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) January 23, 2017

There have been matchups we knew would be brutal like the Brock Osweiler-led Houston Texans against the New England Patriots and there have been games that severely disappointed us, like the Green Bay Packers’ no-show against the Atlanta Falcons in the NFC title game. No matter what the expectation, the result was the same, outside of Green Bay’s win over Dallas and Pittsburgh’s victory against Kansas City in the divisional round.

While the excitement level barely surpassed watching your neighbor shovel his or her driveway for the playoffs, the Super Bowl, at least on paper, could look at lot like the movie Mad Max.

The statistical analysis website Football Outsiders ranks the Falcons and Patriots as the No. 1 and 2 passing offenses in the NFL.

Pro Football Focus rated Tom Brady this year’s best quarterback and Matt Ryan the league’s second best.

Pro Football Reference’s Expected Points statistic put Atlanta at the top of the NFC and New England as the best offense in the AFC.

There have been quite a few good quarterback matchups in the Super Bowl over the last 10 years, including Brady vs. Wilson, Big Ben against A-Rod and Drew Brees vs. Peyton Manning, but oddly enough, there has only been two Super Bowls in history to have both teams clear 30 points – the 1978 Super Bowl between the Steelers and Cowboys and 2012 with the Ravens and 49ers.

This one has the potential to be the third.

The Patriots rank No. 1 in the NFL in points against, but there’s some smoke in mirrors there. Before taking on the Steelers in the AFC title game, they played a stretch of eight games in a row against the league’s worst offenses. The Pats faced Colin Kaepernick, Ryan Fitzpatrick twice, Joe Flacco, Jared Goff, Matt Moore, and Brock Osweiler.

Factoring for strength of schedule, Football Outsiders ranked the Patriots the league’s 16th best defense, while Atlanta came in 27th. By FO’s metrics, the Falcons already thrashed a better defense by crushing the Seattle Seahawks.

And while Atlanta’s defense was suspect for most of the year, they flustered Rodgers in the championship game.

Even if we did into the manusha, we find all sorts of interesting matchups. Vic Beasley of the Falcons led the NFL in sacks with 15.5 and the Patriots gave up just 24 sacks all season. Atlanta receiver Julio Jones averaged 17.0 yards per catch, while New England CB Malcolm Butler was ranked the sixth best cornerback by Pro Football Focus.

So long as nobody goes on Facebook Live and avoid two weeks of Deflategate discussion, it should be an entertaining lead up. Whether the game actually lives up to its billing, who knows, but these two teams give us the best chance of a Super Bowl classic.

The post Patriots, Falcons can salvage dull postseason with Super Bowl classic appeared first on 1500 ESPN Twin Cities.

Source:: 1500 ESPN Sportswire

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