On Feb. 5, 2017, the National Football Conference (NFC) champions, the Atlanta Falcons, will be taking on the American Football Conference (AFC) champions, the New England Patriots, in Super Bowl fifty-one (LI). This will mark the 50th anniversary of the first Super Bowl in 1967. For the Patriots, it will be their all-time leading ninth Super Bowl appearance, and for the Atlanta Falcons, it will be their first time playing in the Super Bowl since 1999, when they lost to the Denver Broncos.
New England is in favor of the spread at -3 and this is only the second time since 2004 that a Superbowl has ever had a -3 at kickoff. This could be subject to change.
With a 14-2 record, the Patriots obviously are the favorite over the 11-5 Falcons, but in the past, that has not always helped the Patriots. Losing two super bowls to the New York Giants, the odds are not in their favor when facing the underdog. The Patriots, however, do have the most super bowl’s this century; they are, by far, one of the most dominating footballs teams of the 21st century. With this being said, this could shape up to be one of the biggest super bowls from years past.
Atlanta’s first Super Bowl in over 10 years is on the back of star Quarterback Matt Ryan. With never even playing in a super bowl, the young gun has been given the name “Matty Ice” and hopes to keep his cool during the biggest game of his career. Throwing for 4.994 yards this season and 38 touchdown passes, Ryan has been in the MVP talks all year.
Tom Brady and the New England Patriots will be focusing on one thing and that is to “Do Your Job.” After serving a four-game suspension, the Patriots’ quarterback will be holding nothing back as he goes for his fifth super bowl ring. Brady has thrown for 3,554 yards this season and 28 touchdowns, and even with a suspension, those are numbers you can’t miss. His high-valued target this season has been their leading receiver Julian Edelman, having another year with 1,000 yards plus.
The Patriots’ number one stat that no one talks about is how they spread the ball out. Every game, it seems to be a new receiver/running back taking all the credit, but no matter what seems to happen, the Patriots have been coming out on top of every opponent.
According to ESPN.com, the Falcons are ranked second in total offense with the Patriots close behind in fourth for the 2016 season. It could be a shootout in this super bowl with both defenses relying much on their high-powered offenses to put up points and keep the game moving.
If Atlanta’s defense shows up to play just like they did in the NFC Championship game against Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers, the Patriots could have their hands full. Although, you could make the argument that the Patriots have trampled over everyone so far this playoffs.
My final prediction for Super Bowl LI is that the Patriots will win by a margin of seven with the final score 34-27 over the Atlanta Falcons, thus putting the Tom Brady Revenge Tour to an end with Commissioner Roger Goodell handing the Vince Lombardi trophy to the man he suspended five months ago.
Joe Cortese can be contacted at Jcortese@kscequinox.com