New England Patriots vs. Atlanta Falcons: Super Bowl LI Predictions

Feb 1, 2017; Houston, TX, USA; A general view of the Atlanta Falcons and New England Patriots next to the Vince Lombardi Trophy prior to a press conference in preparation for Super Bowl LI at George R. Brown Convention Center. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Feb 1, 2017; Houston, TX, USA; A general view of the Atlanta Falcons and New England Patriots next to the Vince Lombardi Trophy prior to a press conference in preparation for Super Bowl LI at George R. Brown Convention Center. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Super Bowl LI has a chance to be a classic between the Atlanta Falcons and New England Patriots. It’s just a matter of how the game will transpire.

It’s two high-powered offenses led by two of the best quarterbacks in the business. It’s the great state of Texas where football is religion. This is when the NFL has a chance to prove it is king of the American sports landscape. So what should the people expect? Here is a comprehensive breakdown of the game from the teams to the final predictions.

Background

One could argue these were the two best teams in the NFL all year long. That’s how it should be in the Super Bowl. The best against the best. What’s remarkable is how similar and yet different they are. The Falcons are built around a dynamic offense headlined by an All-Pro quarterback, but are guided by a tough, defensive-minded wizard in Dan Quinn. The Patriots are built around a dynamic offense headlined by an All-Pro quarterback but are guided by a tough, defensive-minded wizard in Bill Belchick.

New England by far has the advantage in experience. They already won the Super Bowl two years ago. Their path to victory has always been about forcing the opponent to make mistakes and limiting their own. Atlanta cruised through the playoffs, running over both Seattle and Green Bay to get their. They are without a doubt the hotter of the two teams and display the confidence that comes with it.

Both teams were built in much the same manner but still rely on the quarterbacks to deliver the decisive blows. This will ultimately be that classic “master vs. student” story between Tom Brady and Matt Ryan.

Jan 22, 2017; Atlanta, GA, USA; Atlanta Falcons wide receiver Julio Jones (11) signals a first down against Green Bay Packers inside linebacker Jake Ryan (47) during the third quarter in the 2017 NFC Championship Game at the Georgia Dome. Mandatory Credit: Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

Jan 22, 2017; Atlanta, GA, USA; Atlanta Falcons wide receiver Julio Jones (11) signals a first down against Green Bay Packers inside linebacker Jake Ryan (47) during the third quarter in the 2017 NFC Championship Game at the Georgia Dome. Mandatory Credit: Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

The Game

Key Advantages

Patriots – Building their passing attack around quick receivers has really paid off as New England picked apart Pittsburgh and their weak secondary in the AFC championship. Atlanta also had problems defending the pass most of the year. Not only with their secondary but also their streaky pass rush. If the Patriots can neutralize Vic Beasley, it could be a huge night for Brady.

Falcons – One of the big reasons Russell Wilson had a huge game against New England earlier in the year was the fact that he did a good job spreading the ball around. Six different players caught two or more passes. Ryan has done that all year long for the Falcons. It total 13 different players ended up catching a touchdown pass from him. Keep the Patriots guessing. That is how one beats them.

Key Matchup

Julio Jones vs. Malcolm Butler – When Atlanta gets their superstar receiver going in a game is when they are the best offense in football. Teams must roll coverages to him and as a result their many other weapons get free. That is why the Patriots will be leaning on their Pro Bowl corner. Butler said he dreamed of the day he’d get a chance to cover Jones. He better hope it doesn’t become a nightmare.

Prediction:  Patriots win 30-24

At the end of the day it’s about matchups. Tom Brady is going against an average Falcons defense. Matt Ryan is going against the top ranked defense in points allowed with New England. Atlanta will either need him to have a big game or their defense will have to step up. Both are hard to envision when it Brady and Belichick working their magic yet again.

Jan 1, 2017; Miami Gardens, FL, USA; New England Patriots wide receiver Michael Floyd (14) celebrates a touchdown during the second quarter of an NFL football game against the Miami Dolphins at Hard Rock Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports

Jan 1, 2017; Miami Gardens, FL, USA; New England Patriots wide receiver Michael Floyd (14) celebrates a touchdown during the second quarter of an NFL football game against the Miami Dolphins at Hard Rock Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports

Unheralded Hero

Every Super Bowl has that one player. The name nobody has ever heard of who steps up in a big moment to make one of the decisive plays of the game. It was the David Tyree catch. The Malcolm Butler interception. The stars are the ones who bring the heavy weights but the unknowns who tip the scale. So who will be the big hero in this game that nobody see coming? Few teams are better at this than the Patriots as they’ve proven so many times before.

Ready for a curveball? Watch out for Michael Floyd. Remember him? The former Arizona Cardinals wide receiver was brought in late in the year. He played sparingly on special teams and right now is one of the keys to helping New England prepare for Julio Jones. Sure the passing game will be geared around others like Julian Edelman, Chris Hogan and Martellus Bennett. That being said, don’t be surprised when Floyd comes out of nowhere to deliver two or three big catches including a decisive touchdown.

MVP

Being the hero is nice but being the MVP can create legendary status. Von Miller proved that with his epic performance against Carolina last year. Is Brady destined to claim another Super Bowl Most Valuable Player honor or will it be one of his offensive teammates? As it turns out that is indeed the case. Not Brady, or Edelman, or Bennett or Hogan will win it this year. In truth running back Dion Lewis will end up claiming MVP honors.

Surprised? Understandable. This young man has battled through so many hardships over the past couple years, most of them being injuries. At last he’s healthy again and quietly put together a solid playoff run so far. He has 23 touches in total on offense for 83 yards and two touchdowns. Not to mention a 98-yard kickoff return TD against Houston. His versatility is what makes him such a dangerous weapon. Atlanta has struggled at times defending the running backs on pass plays. This could be Lewis’ culmination.

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