HOUSTON - The Falcons and Patriots feature two of the top three scoring offenses in football. Atlanta led the league with 33.8 points per game while New England was just behind in third with an average of 27.6. Both have the capabilities of taking over the game, and that's one reason why many prognosticators believe it will be a high-scoring game at NRG Stadium on Sunday.
The Patriots would seem to hold a significant advantage on defense, however. New England led the league by allowing just 15.6 points per game while Atlanta's group struggles. The Falcons allowed 25.4 points per game, finishing 27th in the league in that department.
But statistics won't win the game on Sunday. No one is going to award bonus points to the unit that performed better during the regular season. As Devin McCourty said earlier in the week, it will come down to which team plays better on Super Bowl Sunday.
With that in mind it's interesting breaking down the matchup and trying to figure out which group will face the most pressure for the Patriots. Will it be Tom Brady's offense or will this one come down to the defense proving it's No. 1 rating was no fluke?
This week's Samsonite Make Your Case question is: Which unit faces the most pressure for the Patriots, offense or defense?
PFW's Andy Hart says ...
All year long the members of the defense have commented about not receiving their due respect. Some fans - at times us included - have diminished their accomplishments due to the inferior offenses they routinely faced. Now they get a chance to prove their mettle against the top-rated offense in football.
There's a lot of pressure that goes along with that. One bad evening can erase all of the good they provided throughout the season, racking up the stats that allowed the Patriots defense to lead the league in points allowed. Matt Ryan won't be easy to stop, but the Patriots can't simply allow him to march up and down the field and score at will. They need to force some punts and field goals, and to get off the field so the offense can perform.
Now is the time to make a statement on defense, but it won't be easy and that's why the pressure is on.
PFW's Paul Perillo says ...
"To whom much is given, much is expected." In this case that goes for the offense. Tom Brady is the greatest quarterback of all time and he has a boatload of weapons at his disposal. He's playing against one of the weaker defenses in football on the game's biggest stage - and the offense needs to perform.
It's unrealistic to expect the defense to completely shut down the Falcons so the heat will be on Brady & Co. to rack up some points. This can't be a repeat of the two Giants Super Bowls when the high-flying Patriots wound up shy of the 20-point mark. That will spell disaster.
The offense needs to do what it's done all season long - move the ball and score points. Anything less will be a troublesome development. The pressure is definitely on the offense, but Brady is no stranger to that predicament.
Now it's your turn to cast a vote in this week's Samsonite Make Your Case poll question.