Super Bowl 51: Matt Ryan has much more to gain than Tom Brady
Jan 22, 2017; Atlanta, GA, USA; Atlanta Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan (2) walks off the field after the game against the Green Bay Packers in the 2017 NFC Championship Game at the Georgia Dome. Atlanta defeated Green Bay 44-21. Mandatory Credit: Jason Getz-USA TODAY Sports

Tom Brady is arguably the greatest quarterback ever, but Matt Ryan has more to gain in Super Bowl 51 than he does.

This NFL season began with an enhanced level of intrigue in the AFC with Tom Brady set to miss four games due to the Deflategate suspension. How this would affect the Pats and the hierarchy of the conference was anybody’s best guess in August.

But there’s one thing that wasn’t in doubt: Brady would return with a vengeance. He’d seek retribution and take out his anger on every opponent that came his way.

And some it came to fruition. Brady led the Pats to an 11-1 record during the regular season, while setting an NFL record with a 28:2 touchdown to interception ratio. He set fire to Roger Goodell’s empire, and now, he’s a win away from Goodell having to congratulate him for another championship — this time, with the use of properly inflated footballs.

This would officially solidify Brady as the greatest quarterback ever.

He’s about to play in his seventh Super Bowl (NFL record) and with a victory would have five rings (another NFL record). Not to mention all the playoff records he holds like touchdowns, games played, wins, etc.

But even if he loses, he’d still go down as arguably the best to ever do it. A loss wouldn’t be that devastating, considering how much success he’s had at the highest level. And think about it; if not for two miraculous throws from Eli Manning, he’d be 6-for-6.

However, you could say if not for Pete Carroll, he’d be 3-for-6.

Regardless of what happens, everyone will remember how Brady exemplified excellence for nearly two decades. Some will still allude to the cheating. His resume to some degree is tainted by Deflate Gate and Spy Gate, but his greatness is inarguable.

On the other hand, Matt Ryan could enter the elite conversation by winning his first Super Bowl. It would cap off a phenomenal season. All signs point to him winning the regular-season MVP after leading his team to an NFC South title, tossing 38 TDs and just seven picks.

There was no question he could get it done during the regular season. He possesses the requisite stats to be considered one of the top quarterbacks in the league. But, what was lamented was that of his playoff struggles. Ryan came into this postseason with a 1-4 record.

After two wins over perennial contenders with quarterbacks who many list higher than him, Ryan has put himself in position to exorcise the demons. Taking down the immortal Tom Brady would do the trick.

A win for Ryan wouldn’t mean he’s somehow usurped Brady as the best QB, but it would cause everyone to put some respect on his name. Ryan could become the first player since Kurt Warner to win an MVP and SB in the same season. This is something his division rival Cam Newton had a chance to do just a season ago.

We’re in for riveting television. The Falcons feel like a team of destiny. The football world waited for that regression to the mean — that paradigm to run its course once again. But here they are on the verge of the first championship in franchise history.

And the Pats well … are the Pats. They’re like the Spurs of the NFL. They just won’t go away. Bill Belichick will now have to devise a plan on how to stop this inexorably, historic offense.

But if Matty Ice can somehow emerge victorious, that would significantly elevate him — even more than it would Brady if he were to win.

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