By Shawn Lealos
The Atlanta Falcons have made it to the Super Bowl and will battle the New England Patriots on Sunday, Feb. 5. This is a battle between two great offensive teams, but the big story heading into the Super Bowl is a David vs. Goliath tale. The New England Patriots are always in the position to make it to the Super Bowl, and Tom Brady is one of the most successful playoff quarterbacks of all time. However, the Falcons have a lot to prove in this game, which will make for a very exciting Super Bowl.
Here are five reasons you should be rooting for the Atlanta Falcons in Super Bowl LI.
1. Atlanta Has Never Won the Big One
The New England Patriots are always in this position. They have made it to the Super Bowl nine times over their franchise history—seven of those times have been with Bill Belichick and Tom Brady leading the way. The Pats have only won four of the nine Super Bowl games, but they are always in the position to come out on top. The Atlanta Falcons made it to the Super Bowl only one other time before – way back in 1998-99. They lost that game to the Denver Broncos.
This is a chance to crown a new NFL Champion – one that has never won a Super Bowl before. The Seattle Seahawks did it back in 2014 and it was a huge moment for the city. The New Orleans Saints did it in 2010, and that was a moment that lifted up that entire community. This could be the year that Atlanta says they finally made it. The other option is that New England wins the title for the fifth time.
2. Matt Ryan Has Earned This Spot
Just one month ago, there were heavy doubts surrounding the Atlanta Falcons’ playoff hopes. When the Falcons drafted Ryan with the third overall pick in the 2008 NFL Draft, he was expected to save the franchise. He started every game in his rookie year and led the Falcons to the playoffs. However, that is where the struggles began. In four playoff appearances, Ryan was 1-4 and he hadn’t led his team back to the postseason since 2012.
This season, Matt Ryan was clearly the NFL MVP, but many said he didn’t deserve it until he proved he could win in the playoffs. Some preferred Tom Brady of the Patriots, although he missed four games when he opened the season suspended. Now, both men are in the Super Bowl – the first time for Ryan – and this is where Matt Ryan can finally get that burden off his shoulders.
3. Atlanta was the Most Exciting Team in 2016
While everyone was talking about the Dallas Cowboys and their super rookies, it was the Atlanta Falcons that were putting on a show around the NFL week-after-week. If you like defensive battles, this isn’t the Super Bowl for you. However, if you like high-scoring teams that can put a lot of points on the board, the Falcons have everything a football fan could want. There are superstars like Matt Ryan and Julio Jones; there are exciting role players like Mohamed Sanu and Taylor Gabriel; there are workhorses like Tevin Coleman and Devonta Freeman. This team has a lot of weapons, and they will make Super Bowl 51 very exciting to watch.
Sure, there are thousands of New England Patriots fans who will hate this pick. However, the fact is that NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell suspended Tom Brady for the first four games of the NFL season after a long and drawn-out lawsuit that Brady filed. There was never any conclusive proof that Brady knew about the Patriots’ employees allegedly deflating footballs during a playoff game in 2015, but it was convincing enough for the suspension. If the Patriots win, all people will hear about is how Brady got the best of Roger Goodell. Matt Ryan winning a Super Bowl for the first time is a better feel-good story than Brady showing up the NFL commissioner.
5. Dan Quinn’s Revenge
Before becoming head coach of the Atlanta Falcons, Dan Quinn was the defensive coordinator of the Seattle Seahawks. He turned that defense into one of the best of all time, and they won Super Bowl XLVIII over the Denver Broncos. The next year, the Seahawks made it back, but the New England Patriots beat them to spoil their dreams of back-to-back Super Bowls. To put it in context, this was the Super Bowl two weeks after the Deflategate scandal. Now, Quinn gets a chance to beat New England once again, as a head coach, and that could be an interesting story heading into the Super Bowl.