We all love quarterbacks. We all hate quarterbacks. We all love to hate quarterbacks.
New England’s Tom Brady is one of the quarterbacks fans either a) love, if they’re from New England, or in most circumstances, root for the Michigan Wolverines or b) love to hate, because Tom Brady has made a victim of all of our defenses at least once.
On the other hand, Atlanta’s Matt Ryan has been all along the spectrum, but mostly among Falcons fans and Fantasy Football owners; he’s just not that polarizing of a guy to the casual fan.
Sunday night will feature the marquee
sporting event television event of 2017, when the New England Patriots will face off at 6:30 to determine this year’s Super Bowl Champion to take their place at the top of the National Football League.
History is in the face of Tom Brady.
Brady will start his 7th career Super Bowl on Sunday; that’s more than 28 franchises have ever attended in the event’s 51 years. He will also go for his 5th Super Bowl Championship; that will tie him for second among all other NFL Franchises, only behind the Pittsburgh Steelers, who have 6.
Matt Ryan is simply chasing a bigger chunk for his resume.
While Ryan, in all likelihood, will take home the league’s Most Valuable Player trophy tonight during the “NFL Honors” ceremony (8 PM EST, FOX), he hasn’t had the easiest road to his current level.
It’s taken Ryan 9 years to get to this point; while it’s still incredibly impressive that he’s there, it’s been much more of a journey for the Falcons’ gunslinger than Brady.
When examining to career of Matt Ryan, you see a rocky road. He won Offensive Rookie of the Year (2008), is a 4x Pro Bowl quarterback, and made the First-Team All-Pro squad following the 2016.
History is on the roster of Brady; but the moment will be carrying the right arm of Matt Ryan.
Atlanta might be the hottest city on the planet right now, and that’s got nothing to do with the fact that the planet’s temperature rose by about .87ºC last year (seamless climate change plug).
Hotlanta is integrating a network of gigantic rappers, a great television show (Donald Glover is a national treasure), they have a really fun basketball team, they just built an insane new football stadium (Mercedes-Benz Stadium is opening with the still pretty nice Georgia Dome closing, which is crazy), and not-to-mention, their football team slaughtered their way through the playoffs, now entering the Super Bowl.
With their team playing at this high of a level, you’d figure they would have more media attention to distract them, right? No, thanks to the Dallas Cowboys. I’m a firm believer that the Cowboys glamour allowed Atlanta to get to a sneaky 11-5 and the #2 seed in the NFC Playoff Tree.
Meanwhile, Matt Ryan has finally blossomed into a top quarterback. Ryan has made a new habit of slinging passes to anyone wearing a blackbird on their helmet. The 31-year-old quarterback is averaging 365.0 yards passing, has thrown 7 TDs on 0 interceptions, while posting a 132.6 QBR this postseason; he’s been incredible.
When Matt Ryan gets going, and man, he’s been going pretty much all of the time since the opening drive of 2016, he is pretty hard to beat.
So, how do you stop that?
Easy answer: Tom Brady and his accompaniment of receivers who didn’t play receiver at lower levels.
Tomorrow, Brady will take the field with Julian Edelman, a former quarterback at Kent State University, and Chris Hogan, who played lacrosse at Penn State University.
While the arsenal will also feature Martellus Bennett, Danny Amendola, and Malcolm Mitchell, we have to remember that the Patriots are lacking the guy who’s usually viewed as the league’s most dangerous weapon; Rob Gronkowski.
Last time the Patriots were in the Super Bowl, they won (28-24 over Seattle), but Gronk was a big part of that, catching 9 passes for 68 yards and a TD; that’s a pretty sizable chunk missing off of that 2014 Patriots receiving arsenal.
Brady, in all likelihood, will be unaffected by this absence.
In games without Gronkowski this season, Tom Brady’s squad (because of that dumb suspension, I have to put the light disclaimer in there, but we’ll get there soon) is 9-0, plus Brady is averaging 287.8 yards and 2.7 TDs per game over that span (in addition to just 3 interceptions).
While the Falcons are as hot as white lightning, Brady is also fueled by a gigantic wave of spiteful revenge.
Commissioner Roger Goodell has ostracized the league’s best player (over his career, it’s not even a debate, come on, guys), when he handed him a 4-game suspension to start 2016 for “Deflategate”, which had happened a year-and-a-half prior.
I join many, who feel some sort of allegiance to New England (momma raised a Boston boy, a line I’ve taken the liberty of using on my podcast extensively, even though my mom has a lot more ties to Cincinnati than Boston at this point) in feeling that the suspension was bologna, as does Brady.
The tension between Goodell and Brady is unrivaled, so for many football fans, there would be nothing more satisfying than to see villain Goodell hand the heralded Vince Lombardi trophy to the league’s essential Anakin Skywalker, Tom Brady.
So, I’ll leave you with that bit. I’m expecting a great game, because both clubs have a lot of exciting pieces, but none more exciting than their franchise quarterbacks.
Is this a good play to make my prediction?
New England 31, Atlanta 30.