Usually, the coronation of each conference champion takes only a few minutes after the game. On Sunday it felt like the ceremonies started much earlier, as the Falcons and Patriots mostly dominated from start to finish. Both teams had a win expectancy exceeding 75 percent by the end of the first quarter and never fell below that mark the rest of the way.
Both rode a bit of luck. The Falcons recovered all three of the fumbles in their game and saw the Packers drop two would-be Matt Ryan interceptions inside their own 10-yard line, while the Patriots had to face Le’Veon Bell for only 11 snaps before Pittsburgh’s superstar back went down with a groin injury. But even with those factors tipping in their favor, both were dominant from start to finish, to the point where analyzing what they did almost seems wasteful.
Let’s instead take a look forward to the newly revealed Super Bowl matchup.
It feels like a 180-degree spin from last year’s Broncos-Panthers matchup, which reinforced the traditional notion of “defense wins championships” — or at least gets you access. Denver and Carolina finished the year first and second in DVOA and then turned off the spigot during the playoffs, holding four of the league’s top five offenses per DVOA to an average of 18.3 points per game. Those same four offenses averaged just over 28.1 points per game during the regular season.