BOSTON (CBS) — The Patriots defense faces its biggest challenge of the season against the Atlanta Falcons in Super Bowl LI. But the same can be said for the Falcons offense going against the Pats.

Atlanta offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan spoke to Vaughn McClure of ESPN about the challenge ahead for the Falcons’ No. 1 scoring offense in the Super Bowl. He couldn’t believe that the Patriots defense was being criticized and questioned despite allowing the fewest points per game (15.6) in the NFL in the regular season.

“That blows my mind that people would be doing that,” said Shanahan. “It’s the best defense that we’ve seen in the NFL this year. The numbers show it. And watch the film and you see exactly why their numbers are the way they are. They are extremely tough to score against. That’s why they’re No. 1 in the NFL.”

The defense has continued to be stingy in the playoffs, allowing just 16 points to the Houston Texans and 17 points to the high-powered Pittsburgh Steelers offense. Shanahan isn’t surprised that a team with the Patriots’ personnel and coaching on defense has played so well.

“They have very good players all around: players that are interchangeable that can be pass-rushers, that can be linebackers, that can be corners, that can be safeties. And they have an extremely good scheme,” he said. “So, it’s by far the biggest challenge we’ve had this year.”

The Falcons offense averaged 33.8 points per game during the regular season and scored 36 and 44 points in their two playoff games, but the Patriots allowed over 30 points to the opposing offense just once all season when the Seattle Seahawks scored 31 points in Week 10. In the matchup of the league’s No. 1 scoring offense vs. the No. 1 scoring defense, something’s got to give.


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