Prisco's Picks: Week 22

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Senior NFL Columnist
Pete Prisco has covered the NFL for three decades, including working as a beat reporter in Jacksonville for the Jaguars. He hosted his own radio show for seven years, and can be seen throughout the week on CBS Sports' NFL shows. When he's not watching game tape you can find Pete on Twitter or dreaming of an Arizona State national title in football.
Sunday, Feb. 5, 2017
New England
Bill Belichick is considered one of the great defensive minds of all time, and giving him two weeks to prepare for an offense is downright scary. They say Belichick's greatest strength is taking away one major part of your offense. That would likely mean Falcons receiver Julio Jones in this game. That would normally slow an offense, but not this Falcons offense, which is why I think they win this game. They averaged more than 40 points in two games without Jones this year. Matt Ryan also threw touchdown passes to 13 different players, a league record. In a battle of the top-ranked scoring offense and the top-ranked scoring defense, I think the offense will get the best of it here. Ryan has too many weapons. The Patriots aren't great at rushing the passer either, ranking 18th in sacks per pass play, which will be a problem. If they blitz and single up in the secondary, this is an offense that can take advantage of that. On the other side, Tom Brady will get his points as well. The Falcons are a young, small, fast defense, but they can make some youthful mistakes. Against Brady, that can be six in a hurry. So I look for both teams to score a lot of points. The quarterbacks are simply too good to be stopped. In the end, the Patriots will have the ball down 35-31 with a chance to go win it. This time, it won't be a Brady late drive to a title. Instead it will be a sack by Vic Beasley late to end the drive and give the Atlanta Falcons their first Super Bowl victory and give Ryan validation by some as a top quarterback.
Result: Atlanta Falcons 28, New England Patriots 34