Or in other words, "The Moral Dilemma That Is Super Bowl LI."
It's one of those left brain/right brain kind of deals, in which the inner dialogue becomes as contentious and counterproductive as a presidential phone call to the Australian prime minister. On the one hand, there's the heart, which says go with the Falcons because they're fun and different and young and one of the most decent human beings on the planet, Jimmy Carter, is a fan. On the other hand ...
Well, on the other hand, there's the brain, which says it's the $#@%&* Patriots because they're the $#@%* Patriots. And even though the Falcons are fun and different, they are also, yes, young, and that is a severe disadvantage when it's the $#@%* Patriots on the other side of the field.
Look. The Falcons are young. They are also faster, they seem to have more pure athletic talent in the right places, and Matt Ryan is having the best season of his career. And sometimes that recipe winds up with the guy having the best season of his career raising the Lombardi Trophy.
The dynastic Steelers, after all, were young and fast and outrageously talented, too, when they made their rookie debut in the Super Bowl. Across from them were the veteran Vikings. The Steelers won that day, 16-6.
Here's the thing though: The Vikings of 1975 were not the Patriots of 2016.
The Patriots of 2016 are the supreme organization in the NFL, and maybe in all of American sports. They have Grumpy McGrumpleskins, aka, Bill Belichick, perhaps the best coach of all time. They have the best scoring defense in the league, a not inconsiderable thing in a game that historically has belonged to the team with the best defense. And they have Tom Brady, very likely the greatest Super Bowl quarterback of all time, playing in his seventh Super Bowl against an Atlanta defense that, while athletic and fast, features seven rookies or second-year players.
It's a defense that's gotten better as the year's gone on, but it's also a defense whose weaknesses happen to dovetail with Brady's strengths. They've been effective so far in the playoffs by blitzing more than they did in the regular season, but Brady eats blitzes alive. No QB in the league has better numbers against the blitz than No. 12.
Plus, he really, really, really wants this one, because he wants to be on that podium when Roger Goodell is forced to hand the Lombardi Trophy to the Patriots. Brady -- and his team, and their following -- have a persecution complex a mile wide where Goodell is concerned. They feel they've been done a great wrong, a laughable notion considering how much shady and out-and-out illegal acts they've all but gotten away with over the years.
Because of that, there is nothing I would like to do more than pick against the Patriots. But I can't. I can't pick against Shady Brady, not when he's this motivated and not when he's facing such a raw defense.
Brady plus Belichick vs. rookie defense plus rookie head coach (Dan Quinn) is an equation that comes out the same way every time, in my book.
And so: Patriots 34, Falcons 27.