In 2010, Matt Ryan threw for 28 touchdowns and over 3,700 yards during a 13-3 season for the Atlanta Falcons. During the same season, Tom Brady won the MVP Award for his 36-4 touchdown to interception ratio and his 3,900 passing yards. That year, the New England Patriots and Atlanta Falcons were the number one seeds in their conference, favorites for the Super Bowl, and the teams no one wanted to play on the road. However, sour losses respectively to the New York Jets and eventual champions, the Green Bay Packers, ended the season for both teams in defeat.
Fast forward six years and these QB’s are having similar seasons. In just 12 games, Brady threw for 28 touchdowns while Matt Ryan threw for a career-high 38 TD’s and a near 70% completion mark. Each team also finished the season with impressing winning streaks and enter the Super Bowl coming off victories against teams led by other championship winners.
Many had wondered if Ryan was up to the task considering his past postseason struggles. Prior to this postseason, Ryan had only one playoff win and had thrown seven interceptions in five games. Brady, on the other hand, entered January having gone 22-9 in postseason play with an NFL record 61 touchdown passes; and of course, four Super Bowl rings.
That being said, this Super Bowl has already proven to be one of the most highly-anticipated ones in recent memory. Tom Brady and Bill Bellichick’s quest for five Lombardi trophies, Matt Ryan’s arena-like numbers, and Dan Quinn’s defensive rematch with the Patriots are some of the best storylines heading into Super Bowl LI.
Another storyline is the incredibly high scoring game that is being expected. The current 58 point over-under is the largest one in American football betting history. Likewise, the current 3 point spread in the Patriots favor indicates the expectation of an epic shootout.
For New England to win, they’ll need to get off the field on third down and eliminate the ability of Atlanta to control the clock. Similarly, the Patriots will need to string together long touchdown drives on offense early in the game to force the Falcons into playing from behind.
For Atlanta to win, they must get pressure on Tom Brady, but not let him decode their defense. They’ll also need to capitalize on every drive when possible and not have any turnovers whatsoever.
If they do win, Matt Ryan will finally have emerged as an elite quarterback in this league. Out-dueling Tom Brady in a Super Bowl will become his prime career achievement. Additionally, the young players on the team will earn valuable experience to thrive in a competitive division.
If New England wins, Bellichick and Brady will enter another stratosphere, surpassing the San Francisco 49ers, Dallas Cowboys, and Pittsburgh Steelers as the NFL’s best historic dynasty. Five Super Bowl rings will undoubtedly finish any barstool or water cooler argument.
Follow BTTT Contributor Will Hyland on Twitter, @willhyland.