(AP) - A season that began with Tom Brady serving a four-game suspension will end with him in the Super Bowl, where his New England Patriots will take on Matt Ryan and the Atlanta Falcons.
While most of the attention between now and the NFL championship game on Feb. 5 in Houston will be focused on Brady vs. Ryan, the truly key matchup could be Atlanta's score-at-will offense, which produced the most points during the regular season, against the unheralded defense of New England, which allowed the fewest.
Brady and coach Bill Belichick will be seeking their - and the Patriots' - fifth Lombardi Trophy, and second in three years. This will be the franchise's league-record ninth appearance in the Super Bowl.
The Falcons have never won the Super Bowl; this is the club's second trip to the big game.