Julio Jones led the league in receiving yards in 2015, and finished second in 2016 by a mere 39 yards. He's hauled in nine touchdowns this season, including three in the playoffs. In five career postseason games, Jones is averaging 110 receiving yards. By all accounts, he is a primary reason for Atlanta's success this year. And when he takes the field in Super Bowl LI, he will be the second most important receiver on the field.
The first is Julian Edelman.
"It ain't even close, it's Edelman over Julio Jones.," Skip Bayless said during Wednesday's Undisputed. "Julian Edelman is all that Tom Brady has. He is by far the most targeted Patriot."
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Edelman is certainly the most targeted Patriot, he also has the seventh-most playoff receptions -- of all time. By the end of Super Bowl LI, there is a good chance Edelman will ascend to as high as second on that list.
Edelman doesn't have the coveted wide receiver physique of Jones. At 5-foot-10, and (maybe) 200 pounds, Edelman is dwarfed by Jones' 6-foot-3, 220-pound physique. But with Rob Gronkowski injured, and a wholly underwhelming Patriots receiving corps behind him, Edelman has established himself as a lifeline for Tom Brady.
Should Jones have a poor outing, the Falcons would certainly struggle. However, Atlanta could -- and has -- leaned on the rushing duo of Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman to the tune of 1,600 yards and 19 touchdowns. The Patriots can't afford Edelman to be anything but his best on Sunday. There simply isn't another reliable option for Brady.