Tomase: Is it too early to start dreaming about a Patriots-Falcons Super Bowl rematch?

John Tomase
January 12, 2018 - 11:14 pm
Bill Belichick

Mark J. Rebilas/USA Today Sports

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A lot must happen between now and Feb. 4 in Minnesota, and the possibility could be DOA by dinner on Saturday, but how does this scenario sound?

Super Bowl rematch.

It could happen. By the end of Saturday, we'll know whether the Patriots and Falcons have earned berths in their respective conference championship games. The Patriots are the obvious favorites in the AFC. They'll roll the woebegone Titans on Saturday, and that's no reverse jinx. The garbage Titans aren't worthy of Foxboro's turf. This one will be over early.

From there, the top-seeded Pats must either beat the Steelers, whom they've already vanquished on the road, or the Jaguars, who start one of the worst quarterbacks you'll ever see play a meaningful game in Blake Bortles. Defense, schmefense. Even with Brian Hoyer under center, the Pats would be favorites. So let's send them to Minneapolis.

They're only half the equation, however. And while no one around here was paying attention to the NFC, the Falcons very stealthily rediscovered their mojo.

Atlanta started its season in disarray, which was understandable following seven months of nightmares about bad sacks, holding penalties, and 28-3. The Falcons opened 4-4, but were literally two plays away from 2-6. Their low point came in October at Foxboro, when succumbed meekly in a 23-7 loss that highlighted their flaws.

With former offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan in San Francisco awaiting Jimmy G.'s arrival via Amazon Prime two-day shipping, the Falcons turned to former USC coach Steve Sarkisian, and he promptly drove their offense into the ground.

The Falcons barely looked functional that night against the Pats, their explosive attack of 2016 replaced by one that ran jet sweeps for losses on fourth down from the 1.

But Atlanta has won seven of its last nine, including a 26-13 upset of the Rams in last week's wild card round that earned Sarkisian plaudits for his play-calling. The Falcons split carries between Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman to dominate the clock, and also served the Rams a heaping helping of Julio Jones, who caught nine passes for 94 yards and the clinching touchdown from defending MVP Matt Ryan.

The Falcons are dangerous because they're experienced, unlike the Rams or this week's opponents in Philadelphia. Would anyone be surprised if Atlanta takes it to the Nick Foles-led Eagles on Saturday afternoon and books passage to face the winner of New Orleans and Minnesota for a berth in Super Bowl 52?

The offense still isn't humming like last year, but the defense is better and man, would the Falcons be motivated. I realize I'm 100 percent getting ahead of myself, but we've spent zero time over the last week pondering even the Titans game, let alone anything beyond it, thanks to the ESPN-fueled ballad of Bill, Bob and Tom.

We've mostly ignored the Falcons because they only squeaked into the playoffs at 10-6 and the Patriots have already made them look terrible.

But let's not forget that the Falcons would like nothing better than vengeance for last year's miracle Patriots comeback that snatched away their first title.

Flawed as each team may have seemed at various points this season, they'd offer by far the most compelling Super Bowl matchup.

Here's hoping it happens.

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