When you think about excellence, nothing stands out like the New England Patriots. In their 16 seasons under Bill Belichick, the Patriots have won the Super Bowl four times, been runner-up twice and missed the postseason just three times. Super Bowl 51 should be a crowning achievement for the Patriots as Belichick participates in his seventh and Tom Brady tries to win his fifth making him the winningest Super Bowl quarterback of all time.
The Patriots face an Atlanta team that is participating in its second ever Super Bowl but they have yet to pop the champagne bottle as a victor. Atlanta represents the new guard when it comes to football excellence. They are a modern day version of the Patriots to a degree except they boast a wealth of high draft picks on their highly potent offense and the Patriots line up every week with an offense without only one first round draft pick on the active roster (Michael Floyd) who was acquired at the end of the season after being cut by the Arizona Cardinals. Floyd hasn’t been a playoff contributor and wasn’t even activated for the AFC Championship Game.
Dan Quinn and Matt Ryan are the centerpieces of modern era football. The Falcons hit you with a two headed monster at running back and have the best big wide receiver in the NFL in Julio Jones. The great Rick Flair said it best that in order to be the man, you have to beat the man. If Quinn and Ryan want to be considered the future of the NFL and put the old guys out to pasture it’s going to take a Herculean effort.
One thing is for sure, Belichick and Brady won’t go down without a fight. The two Super Bowls they lost were because their opponents made extraordinary plays. The question remains if the Falcons have a David Tyree or Mario Manningham on their roster. It may very well take that type of play to kick the old guys off the pedestal.