Mark Bradley

Mark Bradley is a sports columnist and blogger for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

ESPN: 4 out of 5 dentists ... er, coaches ... prefer the Patriots

HOUSTON -- I'm always edified by ESPN Insider Mike Sando's surveys of anonymous NFL types regarding the week's key games. This week there's only one game. Sando polls his electorate and finds that four of five like the New England Patriots to beat the Atlanta Falcons in the Super Bowl.

It's intriguing to me, and perhaps to you, that the one NFL man to pick the Falcons was an offensive coordinator. Another offensive coordinator -- and a defensive coordinator,a defensive assistant and a head coach -- disagree.

Sample comment from a Pat-picker: "With what New England is doing, it is really hard to get behind the Patriots' secondary. My biggest fear for the Falcons is, if they can't run the ball and they start throwing it, can they be patient enough to understand you are probably not going to get Julio Jones over the top? ... When you throw short, it is still tough because there are eight guys dropping more times than not. With the coverages New England is playing right now, Atlanta is not going to get those favorable coverage matchups with its backs."

And from the one who favored the Falcons: "The Falcons just have so many guys. They have [Mohamed] Sanu, too. All those guys are really good players. So, take away Julio and I'm sure they are going, 'Fine, double him and we have all these other guys who can play.' The defenses are probably going to be a wash. I was shocked New England was the No. 1-scoring defense. There are lots more defenses I'd rather not play. I don't have as much respect for the secondary of New England as most people do."

I'd advise you to read Sando's story in its entirety. There are good points made, some of which we've tried to make in this very space the past few days. And while I value any/all input, my feeling hasn't changed: I believe the Falcons have a really good chance.

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About the Author

Mark Bradley is a sports columnist and blogger for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. He has been with the AJC since 1984.