By Mike DeVito
Prepare for what has hurt you
With two weeks for each team to prepare and 18 games worth of game film, both teams have had plenty of time and tape to look for “kinks in the armor.” During a normal game week, most teams will look back at the past 4 games to prepare a game plan but I would imagine a game plan for the Super Bowl is going to be much more substantive. New England needs to be prepared for anything that caused them problems over the course of the entire season. One possible way Atlanta might attack the Pats is by rushing their outside rushers (like sack leader Vic Beasley) up the middle, the same way the Texans did. Also, Falcons head coach Dan Quinn comes from Seattle, so be ready for the same types of defensive schemes that New England had trouble with back in week 10.
Run the football
I was originally hesitant to suggest that New England stick to the run game but the more I think about it the more I like the idea. The way Matt Ryan is playing, coupled with the Falcons ability to score, and highlights the importance of keeping the Falcons off the field and keeping the ball in Tom Brady’s hands. Atlanta finished 17th in run defense allowing over 100 yards per game and the Pats have run the ball consistently all year. Allowing for more third and short situations and keeping the time of possession on the side of New England means giving the ball to the horses in Bill Belichick’s stable which could prove to be an effective offensive attack for the Pats.
Atlanta has a ton of playmakers on offense but the key to their success is Julio Jones. When he says no one can cover him one on one, he isn’t being over confident, he’s telling the truth. The Pats needed to make sure he is covered every play by more than just one guy. Double coverage, safety help over the top, whatever it takes to take him out of the game is going to be crucial for the Pats success on defense. Make the Falcons beat you with their other weapons. Center Alex Mack is the key component in their run game and is hurt, which might make it difficult for Atlanta to get a consistent run game going. Staying in coverage, doubling #11, and forcing Atlanta to have to beat you running the football, especially with how well the front seven of the Pats have been playing, is a good way to for New England to approach this game defensively.
Congrats on a great season New England. I know first hand how difficult it is to get to this game and your team seems to be in this position every other year. That being said, Dan Quinn is one of the smartest coaches in the NFL and a coach whose players will lay everything on the line for. I’m picking Atlanta to win this game 31 to 28.
Mike DeVito (@MikeDeVito70) is a 9-year NFL veteran, playing with the New York Jets and Kansas City Chiefs. He is an alum of the University of Maine, color analyst for Black Bears football on TV and is a co-host on The Drive, weekdays 4pm-6pm on 92.9fm The Ticket and streaming live at DriveShowMaine.com. Follow us on Twitter, @DriveShowmaine and “Like Us” on Facebook, Drive Show Maine.