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Found 5 results

  1. Long time no see. I hope everyone is enjoying their summer. Had a bit of free time today and that football itch is starting to get to me -- hopefully that's all it is, she looked clean -- but I digress. At any rate, I was finally after all these months been able to take a few peeks here and there at some of the Super Bowl and big picture aside, there was some beautiful offense being played for stretches in that game. I wanted to take a look at one play in particular from the early part of the second quarter that just illustrates how Kyle Shanahan would just flat outscheme opposing coaches. It wasn't that the opposition did anything wrong, it was just the call and the design just left the defense with no answer. Now one of the hallmarks of Kyle's scheme was pre-snap motion. For anyone who isn't in the know, the reason offenses motion is because it exposed the coverage. There is a whole chess game that is played before the snap. Defenses try to do everything to muddy their looks. Offenses to everything they can to expose them. Here is one of those looks... now I might get a little chatty on this pic because there is a lot to unpack. so bear with me. First, the defense is playing a TAMPA 2, but that comes later. There is no way to know that from this look. The likebackers are mugging the A gaps and the corners are pressed up on the receivers, so just off this look, it could be anything. Could be man under. Could be Cover 0 (all out blitz), could be a zone pressure. The MAIN way quarterbacks are taught to diagnose coverage pre-snap is to look at the safeties. Safeties will always give away the play. Corners can lie to you. Linebackers can lie to you. Safeties will tell you the truth. Two safeties playing 12 yards off the LOS and a little wide of the hash, it's a form of 2 deep coverage. If they're playing flat-footed at around 8-10 and they are kind of hovering over the #2 receiver, it's quarters. If they are under 8 yards, it's a man blitz. They're coming and they're bringing everybody. Of course there's more, but that's the basics. This look right here, that tricky ole ******* Belichick, this here is a pickle, because as I said it is a Tampa 2 but they safeties are not playing at 12 -- they are actually look a little shallow. I'd guess pressure off this look alone, but you don't make a living doing this stuff by guessing... This is where the motion comes into play. Sanu motions across the formation. The corner that was on him stays on that side of the formation. The defense just tipped their hand. It's zone all the way. Matt knows it. The receivers know it. The defense knows they know it. Also, you will notice when I post the video that the safeties back off to 12 yards, further exposing the coverage. Now here are the actual route combinations courtesy of JamesLightFootball, one of the better football guys out there breaking down x's and o's. This just the perfect call vs. that coverage. The defense has no answer for this. Julio is running the vertical from the #3 position. That route eats up the linebacker running the pipe down the middle of the field. Sanu runs the wheel route and Gabriel runs that little dig right there in the middle of the field. Here's what it looks like right after the snap. Matt fakes to Coleman. Julio is jammed at the line then released. Note the linebacker running with him up the seam. Towards the bottom of the screen, this is where New England is screwed. That cover-2 flat corner has two men he has to guard. If he stays with Gabriel vertical, Sanu on wheel is wide open, so he does his job and passes Gabriel off to the safety and stays with Sanu. Problem is the safety, that poor ******* is caught in a backpeddle and he knows there is a linebacker on the best receiver in football so he's peeking over there seeing if he needs to help out, all the while all this mess with Sanu and Gabriel is unfolding on his side of the field and he doesn't know if he should get width and help with Sanu on the wheel or stay in the middle of the field with Gabriel. Here's the video of that play from two angles. There's just not much the safety could have done. I don't recall seeing this play during the season, so he's seeing this for the first time probably, and it was just easy pickings. That funky trips formation just ate up the coverage. Here's to hoping there's a lot more of this in store. BTW... shout out to Tevin on that play. Not the prettiest pass-pro, but he impeded that defender just enough so he didn't get a clean shot on Matt and he was able to make a strong throw.
  3. TLDR; A lot of the SB analysis (especially lazy narratives) we're seeing isn't based off of recent results. Falcons are the hotter team and their defense is not as bad as it may seem. Falcons Win (35-28). Leaning on Narratives for a Prediction Predictions are hard. Let's start with that. Nobody knows what's going to happen during the Super Bowl this Sunday and a number of variables will dictate the result. We can only use the information we have and guess. But it's still interesting to observe the way most people choose to make predictions. There are a large number of people that lean heavily on narratives and I'd argue that it's the laziest one. Stop me if you've heard any of these in the last week: "You can't give Bill Belichick two weeks to prepare for a team." "The Patriots are the most experienced team so..." "Bill Belichick is going to take away your best weapon" Narratives tend to be mostly selectively pulled from a collection of past events. Some are based in truth, but many are just repeated with the assumption that it must be true. Why? Because everybody says it. In many ways, it's the path of least resistance. Narratives allow people easy talking points to lean on, but at what cost? The actual act of making predictions has become more popular in recent times. I've always felt like it's led people to play it safe. People don't like being wrong and these narratives reverberate in the media echo chamber and give people easy outs. But this type of groupthink often backfires. The last five Super Bowl bouts have seen the underdog against the spread win outright. Most of the narratives and Vegas sees the Patriots prevailing on Sunday. Utilizing Stats for a Prediction On the other side of the coin, you have statistics. The best indicator of future performance is past performance. When used in predictions, statistics tend to reflect more recent events. This is a good thing, as going back too far in the future tends to produce irrelevant information. For all these reasons, statistics tend to be more reliable than narratives. Advanced stats in particular are great for adding additional insight into how a game will unfold. And all the prediction-based stats come out to a similar conclusion. This should be a close game. On the surface, the stats say that the Falcons have the best offense in the league, while the Patriots have the best defense. The advanced stats only bear out the same for the Falcons offense. Per Football Outsider's DVOA metric, the Patriots defense ranks as the 16th best for the regular season. This is largely due to a schedule that pitted the Patriots against lackluster offenses all year. Perhaps most interesting, their pass defense comes in with a DVOA ranking of 23rd. This jumps out to me with them facing an explosive Falcons offense led by Matt Ryan who is simply on fire. On the other side of the ball, the Patriots are a good all around offense and only come behind the Falcons in DVOA rankings. The Falcons defense on the surface looks middling to bad no matter what stats you look at. Their defense finished the regular season with a DVOA ranking of 27, but it's not all bad. The numbers also say that the defense has shown improvement over the 2nd half of the season and during the playoffs. Their pass defense has especially improved aided by a pass rush that has had increased success getting to the quarterback. Unfortunately, the same can't be said for their rushing defense, which the stats say has hovered around the bottom of the league all year. Altogether, the stats say this is a close game, but they also point to a slight advantage for the Patriots. Conclusion: What Stats Don't Say To get a complete picture of a team, you often have to look deeper. Analyzing stats will give you a basic understanding of a teams strength and weaknesses, but not the full picture. After the NFC championship game, much of the talk was about the Packers falling short due to injuries. Many said Aaron Rodgers still managed to score three touchdowns and if only the Packers were healthier, who knows? This struck me as a little bit of revisionist history. The Atlanta Falcons got off to a 24-0 lead at halftime in the NFC championship game. Just a minute into the 2nd half, the Falcons scored another touchdown. The score then sat at 31-0. Of course, the Packers ended with 21 points, but this game was over at halftime. This peaked my interest enough to investigate the game flow of the Falcon's previous bouts and what I found was insightful. A quick look at a few box scores throughout the season showed me that the Falcons had bad habit. They tend to let up of the gas or become gassed late in games. Whatever the reason, they have a tendency to give up a lot of points late in games. Even games that have been put away. Their last regular season game against the Saints is a perfect example. The Falcons were up 38-13 going into the 4th quarter. Per ESPN's win probability, the Falcons had a 99.9% chance of winning the game at that point. Drew Brees and the Saints went on to hang 19 points on the Falcons defense. The Falcons ended up winning 38-32, but the score wasn't truly indicative of the game. The Falcons's win probability never fell below 99% the entire 4th quarter. Similarly, the Falcon's win probability never fell below 99% for the entire 2nd half of the NFC championship game. The Saints game is an extreme example, but the Falcons displayed this bad habit throughout the season. Per Oddshark, the Falcons gave up 9.4 points per game in the 4th quarter. This was often in situations where the Falcons were up by multiple touchdowns. Does a tree falling in a forest make a sound when no one is around. I don't know, but I know those 4th quarter points count toward the Falcon's defensive stats no matter the circumstance. In contrast to the Falcons games in the playoffs, the Patriots haven't looked as pristine. While both conference title games were characterized similarly as blowouts, the Steelers were still in the game in the 2nd half. The same can't be said for the Packers. As strong as many of the pro-Patriots narratives are, I just can't close my eyes and ignore what they are telling me. The momentum and recent play of both teams don't match up. Just take a look at the playoff numbers for Tom Brady and Matt Ryan. Tom Brady - 62% completion for 671 yards with 5 TDs and 2 INTs (77.5 QBR) Matt Ryan - 70% completion for 730 yards with 7 TDs and 0 INTs (95.2 QBR) Nobody will be surprised if the favored Patriots pull it out, but that's not the Super Bowl result that seems most likely to me. There's something to be said about momentum and I can't ignore it with the Falcons. In addition to being the hottest team, they can easily make their biggest weakness (rush defense) a non-factor by getting off to a quick start. Despite what the narratives and stats say, the rest tells me the Falcons win Super Bowl 51. Super Bowl Prediction: Falcons Win (35-28)
  4. Don't want to jinx this game. BUT if the falcons win today, I'm hoping to watch the big game with other falcons fans in Toronto. Looking to book reservations at Real Sports in Toronto! BUMP if interested.