Entering Super Bowl week, plenty of attention will be thrust on Matt Ryan and the Atlanta Falcons‘ unstoppable offense. Offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan thinks it’s ridiculous that some are discounting the Patriots‘ No. 1 scoring defense.

“That blows my mind that people would be doing that,” Shanahan said, via ESPN’s Vaughn McClure. “It’s the best defense that we’ve seen in the NFL this year. The numbers show it. And watch the film and you see exactly why their numbers are the way they are. They are extremely tough to score against. That’s why their No. 1 in the NFL. I believe only one game this year someone scored 30 points.


“They have very good players all around: players that are interchangeable that can be pass-rushers, that can be linebackers, that can be corners, that can be safeties. And they have an extremely good scheme. So, it’s by far the biggest challenge we’ve had this year.”

The Patriots own the NFL’s top scoring defense at 15.6 points per game allowed while ranking eighth in yards surrendered per game at 326.4. Bill Belichick’s teams have only had the No. 1 scoring defense one other time in franchise history (2003), culminating that season with a Super Bowl win.

In the Belichick era (since 2000), the Patriots have won the Super Bowl in three of the four seasons in which they allowed 17.0 PPG or less, per NFL Research.

Since 1990, teams entering the Super Bowl with the No. 1 scoring defense are 7-2. The last time: the 2014 Seattle Seahawks, which lost to Tom Brady and the Patriots.

The reason some are discounting the Patriots‘ defensive statistics is due to a cavalcade of sub-par quarterbacks faced during the season. New England went against three top-10 offenses during the 2016 regular season — Arizona, Pittsburgh and Buffalo (twice) — allowing 19.5 PPG in those contests.

Shanahan and the Falcons‘ offense faced three top-10 scoring defenses in the regular season, averaging 25 points per game, per ESPN.

The Falcons‘ offense has been unstoppable this year, scoring 30-plus points in each of its last six games and averaging 40.0 PPG during the playoffs.

Shanahan won’t say it, but it’d be a shock if Super Bowl LI weren’t a high-scoring affair. 

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