The Super Bowl is the most overanalyzed sporting event each year, but don't think for a second that you have learned everything you need to know about the Atlanta Falcons and New England Patriots. We dug into the databases at ESPN Stats & Information and Football Outsiders to find a few obscure statistical areas to highlight that could help predict the outcome of Sunday's showdown.
Which quarterback to blitz?
Blitzing should come with a warning to be used in moderation against quarterbacks of this caliber. It might be well known that a defense should not blitz Tom Brady, but what do the numbers say? This season, including the playoffs, Brady leads all quarterbacks with a 92.1 QBR against the blitz. Matt Ryan has been excellent too with a 90.8 QBR, which ranked third, and he led all passers with 16 touchdowns against the blitz.
The difference in QBR can be accounted for by the effectiveness of the blitz at generating pressure. Brady was sacked only twice against a blitz compared to 15 times for Ryan. In fact, Ryan was pressured on 45.0 percent of his dropbacks against the blitz, which ranked 28th out of 30 quarterbacks in 2016. Compare that to the 28.9 percent for Brady, which was seventh. Ryan has been good at operating under pressure this season, but all it takes is a well-timed pressure or two to throw a quarterback off his game for a tide-turning turnover. The Patriots are more likely to do this to Ryan with the blitz than the Falcons will be with blitzing Brady.
It's also important to point out that Dan Quinn seems to understand his defense's deficiencies well this year.