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  1. http://www.footballoutsiders.com/stats/teamdef http://www.footballoutsiders.com/stats/teamoff It may be no secret among posters paying attention; and the intent isn't to disrespect Belichick's history of game planning and building a reliable defense to suit his game plans, but quite frankly to simply regurgitate the "Defense Wins Championships" mantra coupled with "No.1 D beats No.1 O" by default it begs to be point out Atlanta is the proven offense inside the numbers this season. Also, they set records while proving themselves. This isn't just a number 1 offense. This is a historically great offense. They have faced the 2nd toughest schedule of defenses while Patriots offense has respectably performed against the 10th toughest defensive schedule. So, this could very well be a shootout in fact. Advantage Atlanta. However, how have the two defenses performed? Common opponents show Atlanta; despite it's obvious growing pains during the season on defense, has performed similarly to the Patriots defense in those games. So, inside the numbers says their run defense is stout before and after DVOA is considered. Their run D is considerably their biggest strength as a defense. However, their pass defense is actually ranked below that of the Falcons (19th and 23rd respectively) over the 2016 regular season. The kicker? They are dead last at 32nd in the difficulty schedule of offenses faced for their defense. Of course, this probably isn't surprising considering the lack of stud QBs they faced all season. They stop the run, make a bad QB throw, win with a reliably great offense ( though not historically great this season). They literally played THE easiest schedule as a defense though. If that isn't a complete negation to the "Defense Wins Championships" mantra you could almost say "It Will Cost Us vs this ATL offense". I can't wait for the Falcons to do their thing this Sunday. This is what they've proven to do while facing a stiffer schedule than the Pats; in particular on defense and it's not even close. The Falcons are literally 1 spot away from having faced THE toughest defensive schedule and the Patriots D ranks dead last in strength of offenses faced using DVOA. In particular, the Pats pass D grades out lower than the Falcons 2016 regular season using this metric. Now that is just sad, we all know how Atlanta was burned in numerous shootouts early in the season and had it's share of a learning curve as a young unit against formidable passing offenses; though rarely tested on the ground against complete offenses. Also, much of Atlanta's pass D stats lately have come from garbage time points as they didn't try to run up scores while ahead most of the season. To me, it's a no-brainer: The Falcons want a shootout if they can't stop the Patriots offense and the Patriots want to play ball-control / keep away to minimize the Falcons damage. The only team that did this to Atlanta during the season was Philly; a MUCH better defense at being equipped to stop the Falcons passing game, put up 200 yards rushing, and was THE worst game of the season for Atlanta just before the bye where the team self-scouted and has not looked back since then in terms of improving defensively and offensively. Also, when Atlanta did have the ball that game it was terrible. How can anyone flat out expect Atlanta to duplicate their worst showing of the year to fit NE's win condition when they are peaking on both sides of the ball well past their lowest point? They have faced stiffer competition as an offense in terms of matchups and grown offensively as well for being tested. I'm not waiting all worried into Sunday as to whether or not Atlanta will be exposed like the media is spewing. I'm eagerly anticipating the Falcons exposing this Patriots defense with their obvious matchup weakness (with all due respect to Belichick and their history that goes without saying but that defensive personnel isn't built to defend the Falcons). I'm more eager to see the Falcons defense play up to it's recent showings and if we slow down Brady and their offense at all it's Atlanta's game to Win. #RiseUp #DVOA *Of course the caveat to this is Belichick relying on a gameplan to win since he can't rely on straight up man to man ala Pats vs Rams 2001, etc. This game is mostly about Atlanta continuing to do what they've done and their own gameplan is being ignored (outside of a bag incident meme). I see no reason this season to believe the Pats can gameplan alone to win this game. They must rely on Atlanta beating itself in hopes of slow down Falcons OR a miraculous DL showing at getting QB pressure quickly. Same challenge to Falcons D vs Brady's quick release, but I like our odds in a shootout.
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