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Can Matt Ryan and the Atlanta Falcons rise up in Super Bowl LI?

Since Week 1 of the 2016-2017 season, Atlanta Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan looked poised to lead the NFC South contenders to greatness.

Fast forward to Super Bowl weekend, and the Falcons haven't lost a game since Week 13. Wrapping up their regular season with an 11-5 record, Matt Ryan, Julio Jones and head coach Dan Quinn were instrumental in positioning the Falcons as a team destined for their second Super Bowl appearance in NFL history.

After the Falcons steamrolled the Green Bay Packers 44-21 in the NFC championship game, Atlanta is set to face off against the New England Patriots -- the team with the third most Super Bowl appearances in league history.

RELATED: Atlanta Falcons 2016 season (11-5 record)

Atlanta Falcons 2016 season (11-5 record)
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Atlanta Falcons 2016 season (11-5 record)

Week 1: Buccaneers 31, Falcons 24

(Photo via Getty Images)

Wek 2: Falcons 35, Raiders 28

(Photo by Jason O. Watson/Getty Images)

Week 3: Falcons 45, Saints 32

(Photo by Tyler Kaufman/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Week 4: Panthers 33, Falcons 48

(Photo by Scott Cunningham/Getty Images)

Week 5: Falcons 23, Broncos 16

(Photo by Dustin Bradford/Getty Images)

Week 6: Falcons 24, Seahawks 26

(Photo by Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images)

NFC Divisional Round: Seahawks 20, Falcons 36

(Photo by John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports via Reuters)

Week 7: Chargers 33, Falcons 30 

(Photo by Scott Cunningham/Getty Images)

Week 8: Packers 32, Falcons 33

(Photo by Scott Cunningham/Getty Images)

Week 9: Falcons 43, Buccaneers 28

(Photo by Cliff Welch/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Week 11: Bye

(Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)

Week 10: Falcons 15, Eagles 24

(Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)

Week 12: Cardinals 19, Falcons 38

(Photo by Scott Cunningham/Getty Images)

Week 13: Chiefs 29, Falcons 28

(Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

Week 14: Falcons 42, Rams 14

(Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

Week 15: 49ers 13, Falcons 41

(Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

Week 17: Saints 32, Falcons 38

(Photo by Todd Kirkland/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Week 16: Falcons 33, Panthers 16

(Photo by Jim Dedmon/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

NFC Championship: Packers 21, Falcons 44

(Photo by David E. Klutho /Sports Illustrated/Getty Images)


As America gears up for Sunday's Super Bowl showdown, the Falcons could win their first Super Bowl in franchise history -- but does the southern squad have it in them to "rise up" once more and defeat the Goliath of Tom Brady and the New England Patriots?

While Super Bowl experience doesn't count for everything -- it is a factor the Falcons will have to account for when strategizing against New England. Patriots quarterback Tom Brady, for example, has played in more Super Bowls than the entire Falcons roster combined.

SEE ALSO: A history of every New England Patriots Super Bowl game

The Falcons came into existence as an NFL franchise in 1966. Since their founding, the team has appeared in one Super Bowl -- that's Super Bowl XXXIII at Pro Player Stadium in Miami.

The Jan. 31, 1999 match up featured a match up between the Atlanta Falcons and Denver Broncos. Both teams entered the championship game with identical 14-2 records. The Falcons had suffered a 7–9 record in the previous season, but rose to success in 1998 under new head coach Dan Reeves.

One of the greatest plays in NFL history occurred during this game, when Broncos quarterback and Hall of Famer John Ellway shot an 80-yard pass to receiver Rod Smith. Denver scored 17 consecutive points to build a 17–3 lead in the second quarter, a setback from which Atlanta could not recover. The Broncos went on to defeat the Falcons 34–19, winning their second consecutive Super Bowl.

SEE ALSO: Atlanta Falcons Super Bowl Roster 2017: Player injuries and who could sit out the big game

Matt Ryan and the Atlanta Falcons know the weight they carry in Super Bowl LI, but Tom Brady and the New England Patriots are treating them as anything but an easy opponent. At a Super Bowl media event this week, Patriots star Tom Brady had nothing but praise for his position opponent, nothing he's watched Ryan since his college years playing with Boston College -- a school not far from the Patriots' home field at Gillette Stadium.

"To see him be the first pick overall and come with all those expectations and to really fulfill them in the city of Atlanta has been pretty cool," said Brady. "He's a great player. He's leading a great football team. It's going to be a big test for us."

As for "Matty Ice," he just wants the Falcons to "finish the job."

"I am happy for everybody in our organization, we have worked hard to get to this point, but the challenge is still in front of us," said Ryan in the week before the big game. "What we set out to accomplish is still in front of us. We will enjoy because it is hard to get to this point. I know that from experience."

RELATED: Key players and injuries for the Atlanta Falcons

Key players and injuries for the Atlanta Falcons
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Key players and injuries for the Atlanta Falcons
Key offensive players

Matt Ryan, quarterback

The Falcons are led by Ryan, their stud quarterback. Ryan has had a solid career, but he elevated his play this season. He set personal bests of 4,944 passing yards, 38 touchdowns and seven interceptions. Furthermore, Ryan led the league with an astounding 117.1 passer rating. If the Falcons are to win their first Super Bowl, it will likely have everything to do with Matty Ice's performance.

(Photo by David E. Klutho /Sports Illustrated/Getty Images)

Devonta Freeman, running back

In his third year with the Falcons, Devonta Freeman once again led the charge from the backfield. He improved upon last season's rushing numbers, running the ball for 1,079 yards on much fewer carries. Freeman continued to be dangerous in the passing game, as well, with 462 receiving yards. Freeman scored 13 touchdowns in the regular season.

(Photo by Simon Bruty /Sports Illustrated/Getty Images)

Julio Jones, wide receiver

Julio Jones needs no introduction. He is arguably the greatest receiver in the NFL, dominating almost every game with his hands, feet and physicality. While he did not replicate his ridiculous numbers from last season, Jones still caught 83 passes for 1,409 yards and six touchdowns. Jones' receiving yards were second in the league behind the Colts' T.Y. Hilton.

(Photo by Simon Bruty /Sports Illustrated/Getty Images)

Tevin Coleman, running back

Despite not being a starting running back, Tevin Coleman put up solid numbers in his sophomore season. Acting in relief of Freeman, Coleman amassed nearly 1,000 yards, giving the Falcons arguably the best group of receiving running backs in the league. Look for Coleman, who scored 11 touchdowns in the regular season, to get plenty of work against the Patriots.

(Photo by Todd Kirkland/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Offensive line

The players responsible for giving Ryan all that time to throw the ball are the offensive linemen. The line includes Jake Matthews at left tackle, Andy Levitre at left guard, Alex Mack (pictured) under center, Chris Chester at right guard and Ryan Schraeder at right tackle.

(Photo by Mark LoMoglio/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Key offensive injuries

Mack and Jones are the two offensive names on the Falcons' injury report. Jones did not practice Wednesday due to a lingering toe injury. Still, short of aggravating the toe further, you better believe Jones will play in the Super Bowl. The Falcons' starting tight end, Jacob Tamme, is on injured reserve and will miss the game.

(Photo by Todd Kirkland/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Key defensive players

Defensive line

The Falcons' defensive line will have their work cut out for them as they try and get to Patriots quarterback Tom Brady. The line consists of defensive ends Brooks Reed and Tyson Jackson (pictured) and defensive tackles Jonathan Babineaux and Grady Jarrett. Dwight Freeney, who has 122.5 sacks in his career, should get a few chances in relief to knock down Brady.

(Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)


The Falcons' linebacking corps is made up of Deion Jones, Vic Beasley Jr. (pictured) and De'Vondre Campbell. Beasley recorded 15.5 sacks this season and was named to the 2017 Pro Bowl.

(Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

NFC Championship - Green Bay Packers v Atlanta Falcons

Defensive backs

Assuming the Patriots' offensive line will do their job and protect Brady, it is the Falcons' defensive backs who will have to prevent wide receiver Julian Edelman from getting open. The Falcons' playmakers in the secondary include cornerbacks Robert Alford and Jalen Collins (pictured) and Ricardo Allen and Keanu Neal at safety.

(Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)
Key defensive injuries

The only defensive player listed on the Falcons' injury report is Freeney, who missed Wednesday's practice for non-injury-related reasons.

(Photo by Jason O. Watson/Getty Images)

Special teams

Matt Bryant, kicker

Matt Bryant converted 34 of 37 field goals this season. The 41-year-old ageless kicker has been superb all season, and should the game come down to a field goal, there is nobody else Atlanta would want kicking the ball.

(Photos by Frank Mattia/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)


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