In Tom Brady’s perfect world, Sunday’s Super Bowl will end in his fifth hoisting of the Vince Lombardi trophy as quarterback for the New England Patriots.
But this world isn’t a perfect one, and no one proves that better than Matt Ryan, who is the better pick in this year’s season-ending NFL matchup.
Brady is a legend, yes, and he’s a guaranteed Hall-of-Fame choice when the time comes.
He may even be the greatest to ever play the position.
But, is he human? Indeed.
In the 2016 regular season, Brady threw 28 touchdowns with a 67.4 completion percentage, giving him a total QBR of 83.0. Before 2015, the Patriots’ last Super Bowl victory came in 2005, when Brady threw 26 regular-season touchdowns.
Despite Brady’s four-game suspension in 2016, he still had an incredible season. He was even second in the league in passer rating. The only problem?
Matt Ryan tops that list at No. 1.
Most would pick Tom Brady nine out of 10 times in a quarterback duel in the Super Bowl because he’s just that good. Statistics from this season indicate that Sunday will be that one exception out of the 10. Ryan tops Brady in every statistical category on the season except for interceptions.
Some may try to make a case that Brady would’ve put up better season statistics if he wasn’t suspended. However, Brady threw 28 touchdowns in 12 games for an average of roughly 2.33 touchdowns a game.
Matt Ryan threw for 38 touchdowns in 16 games. That’s 2.38 touchdowns a game. It’s a small difference, but the advantage is still Ryan’s. He’s the better choice on paper, at least for 2016.
Let’s forget about statistics, though. Brady has four Super Bowl wins. He knows how much a fifth would mean to his legacy — it would almost undoubtedly cement him as the greatest quarterback of all time. That means Brady has the most to lose, putting all the pressure on the 12-time Pro Bowler.
On the other hand, Ryan soars into this game with everything to gain. He just finished the best regular season of his career while leading the Falcons to just their second Super Bowl appearance in franchise history. Having everything to gain and nothing to lose is the perfect storm for the Boston College alum.
All this isn’t to say that the Falcons will win.
Instead, this is to say that, given a choice between 2016 Matt Ryan and 2016 Tom Brady, Ryan’s stats speak for themselves. Add the pressure resting on Brady’s shoulders, and Ryan is the favorable choice in a formidable quarterback duel for Super Bowl LI.
Edited by Nathan Odom
Featured image by Keith Allison
Sports editor Jake Nichols has been part of the TNJN staff in two different capacities. His freshman and sophomore years, Jake worked as a staff writer before moving on to write for Rocky Top Insider, and he also worked with VFL Films and the SEC Network for a semester his junior year. When asked the summer before his senior year to return to TNJN as the sports editor, Jake jumped at the chance to end his time in Knoxville working with the organization he first began with as a freshman. Jake is excited to help lead younger writers, much like former editors Cody McClure and Jordan Dajani aided him. Jake also does freelance sports coverage and photography for The Mountain Press in Sevierville, Tenn., and in his spare time, he can be found with family, his girlfriend or driving his Jeep, most likely with his Canon in tow. Be sure and follow Jake on Twitter and Instagram at @jnichols_2121, and keep up with TNJN Sports on Twitter as well!