Matt Ryan had as good of a season as any quarterback in the league. He finished second in yards (4,944), second in touchdowns (38), third in completion percentage (69.9) and first (by a mile) in yards per attempt (9.26). He also threw just seven interceptions.
Is Ryan the best quarterback in football? Or, at the very least, is he a better quarterback than Aaron Rodgers?
“Well, I don’t know if he’s better,” Atlanta’s The Game host Mark Zinno said on CBS Sports Radio’s Ferrall on the Bench. “I think he’s the MVP this year. Those are two different things. Aaron Rodgers has a better body of work overall and a Super Bowl ring to boot. So from that standpoint, I think it’d be hard to deny. But Matt Ryan this year, what he’s done has been nothing short of spectacular. You can’t deny it. Matt Ryan is going to be the MVP this year.”
He may indeed take home the hardware, but can he lead the Falcons to victory in the NFC Championship and reach his first Super Bowl? We’ll soon find out.
“Sunday is going to decide a lot,” Zinno said. “Here’s what’s on the line for Matt Ryan: His legacy is going to change so much if he can get to and win a Super Bowl. If he ends up winning the Super Bowl, he’s got as many rings as Rodgers, as many as Favre, one more than Marino, and all of a sudden, with all the numbers he’s compiled, now he’s become one of the best quarterbacks of our generation because he’s won a Super Bowl. If he doesn’t, he’s in the same category of Philip Rivers and a whole bunch of other guys who are probably never going to win a title. They were just very good quarterbacks and they’re afterthoughts. But if Ryan wins a title this year, not only is he one of the best quarterbacks of our generation, but now all of a sudden you start bringing Hall of Fame into the discussion.”
While the Falcons have the ability to score in a hurry, Zinno believes being methodical is the key to beating Rodgers and the Packers. He expects heavy doses of Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman to grind out first downs and keep the clock moving.
There’s also this: The Falcons led the league in touchdown drives of at least 10 plays.
“That’s what they need (Sunday),” Zinno said. “The longer they can have those drives, the more Aaron Rodgers is sitting on the sidelines.”
The Falcons have never won a Super Bowl and haven’t played for once since 1998. Nevertheless, Atlanta fans are optimistic that this is their year.
“It’s not that they’ll beat Aaron Rodgers; it’s that they’re winning the Super Bowl,” Zinno said. “It’s that kind of fever right now. I haven’t seen this much confidence from a fan base in awhile. Going into the playoffs, I was more confident in the Falcons getting to the Super Bowl than any team I’ve covered. This team, this year, and given the fact that there’s no major defense that can really slow them down, I just don’t see anybody being able to stop them. If you’re asking me what’s more likely – will the Falcons score less than 30 or more than 40 – they’re more likely to score more than 40 than to be held to less than 30.”
Kickoff is at 3:05 p.m. ET.