Jeff Schultz

This AJC sports blogger takes things seriously when he has to, but he really would rather not

Pats open as 3-point Super Bowl favorites but I like Falcons' chances

The Falcons have left their first two playoff opponents punch-drunk, outscoring Seattle and Green Bay by a combined score of 80-41, rolling up 10 touchdowns and 915 yards in offense against two franchises that aren't accustomed to being humiliated

This last one: not so easy.

New England had almost as easy of a time with Pittsburgh in the AFC championship Sunday as the Falcons did in their game against the Packers. They dumped the Steelers 36-17.

That means for the Falcons to win their first Super Bowl, they merely have to beat the most successful NFL franchise over the past 15 seasons. The Patriots have won four Super Bowls and played in six championship games since 2002, led by one of the greatest quarterbacks (Tom Brady) and coaches (Bill Belichick) in history.

The Patriots will open as a three-point favorite.

If you believe that's a pretty tight point spread, well, maybe that says something about the Falcons. And I like their chances to win this game.

To read my column on the Falcons' domination Sunday and why this is a crowning moment for owner Arthur Blank, click here. (Side note: Blank plans to take every employ in the organization to the game, not just players and coaches.)

The Patriots' defense will be far better than the one the Falcons shredded Sunday in the Georgia Dome. New England ranked first in the NFL in points allowed (15.6 per game) and eighth in yardage (326.4 per game). Granted, they had the advantage of playing six games against the New York Jets (twice), Buffalo (twice), Cleveland and Houston. But those are still impressive numbers. Watching a New England defense that has allowed less than half the Falcons' regular season scoring average (33.8) makes for an interesting match-up.

My early view: While the Falcons' likely won't roll up huge numbers in the Super Bowl, the Patriots will still be hard-pressed to keep pace offensively. The Falcons' defense has significantly improved in recent weeks and threw a variety of blitzes and coverages at Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers Sunday. Rodgers has been torching opponents, but that wasn't the case Sunday.

My opinion may change as we get closer to the game. But my early pick: Falcons win.

For the game column click here.

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About the Author

Jeff Schultz is a general sports columnist and blogger who isn't afraid to share his opinion, which may not necessarily jibe with yours.