Americans don’t like to see the same team win championships year in and year out.
They especially don’t like to see perennial champions who win in cold, calculating ways.
Look at the angst Duke basketball draws. There are people who can’t stand seeing the Blue Devils in the Final Four all the time, who can’t stand all of the praise Dick Vitale has for that program.
All those NASCAR championships Jimmie Johnson wins? He has made winning look routine. But he’s not the most popular driver on the circuit.
Then there’s the matter at hand: the team that stands in the way of a world championship for the Atlanta Falcons.
Yep, the New England Patriots. Coached by the Darth Vader of sports, Bill Belichick.
Darth Vader? What? Well ... there’s just something about that hoodie he wears that just wants you to break out the Darth Vader theme from the “Star Wars” series. Between deflategate and the way he handles news conferences, there’s just an air of, dare we say, evil genius in him?
That alone will drive most of the country to pull for the Falcons on Sunday.
The Falcons truly have nothing to lose in Super Bowl LI. According to a Fox Sports story, only four teams had longer odds than the Falcons before the season to make the Super Bowl. The Falcons sat at 80-to-1, slightly better than the 100-1 shots Philadelphia and Los Angeles had and the 200-1 odds facing the league’s two most misfit franchises, Cleveland and San Francisco.
What the wisemen of Las Vegas — and few others, for that matter — failed to see was the ability of quarterback Matt Ryan and offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan to start clicking after their 2015 struggles.
About midway through the season, it started to become evident that Ryan and Shanahan had found the right combination. Things were starting to break the Falcons’ way. They built on that momentum, and the ride has carried the team into the Super Bowl.
Before the playoffs started, I was wary of the task that was ahead of the Falcons. All four NFC opponents had given Atlanta trouble in the past, but the Falcons handled things this time with ease. The ease with which the Falcons won the NFC championship game was breathtaking.
I’m still not comfortable enough to assign any sort of prediction to the Falcons. This is a team that has surpassed all expectations, and it’s wise at this point not to change course or to raise the bar. Let’s see the Falcons go out there in attack mode, like they have for most of this season, and we’ll just see where things land.
They have nothing to lose. And they will have most of America rising up behind them.