Predicting Super Bowl 51: Who win on Sunday?
It’s a bittersweet weekend for football fans, in that it’s the biggest game of the year, but also the last one; which team walks out of Houston with the trophy?
Man, it could have been us, said fans of The Kansas City Chiefs, but a heartbreak loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers in the divisional round of the 2016 playoffs saw KC’s hope crash. So while it has still been fun to watch the remaining games this postseason, it is just not the same if the red and gold are not in there.
The AFC is being representing once again but the Bill Belichick and Tom Brady led New England Patriots. Brady has been to the show a staggering, and NFL record, seven times and winning four; including Super Bowl XLIX, with that crazy game ending interception of Seattle Seahawks Russell Wilson. Brady is looking to stand alone with five Super Bowl victories, surpassing greats like Joe Montana.
The NFC is seeing the Atlanta Falcons led by MVP candidate Matt Ryan, with the NFL’s number one offense. This marks the second time the Falcons have made the show, losing their first game to John Elway’s Denver Broncos.
This marks the eighth time in the Super Bowl era that the number one offense meets the number one defense in a battle for best in the NFL. So I wanted to take a minute to not talk about my beloved Kansas City Chiefs, and instead give my two thoughts one these two teams, and who wins Super Bowl LI.
The New England Patriots
I hate New England. There I said it, we can get this part out of the way. Now I don’t hate them for “cheating” at the game, I hate how good they are. No team in recent memory to me has been as consistently good at the Pats. While some may not like Brady or Belichick, there is no denying that this is a good team.
During the 2016 NFL season, many were not sure what the Pats would be like. Brady was to serve a 4 game suspension leaving the untested Jimmy Garoppolo to take over. Some thought that Jimmy taking over would signal the end of the Brady era in New England, but that was not the case. Tom came back off his suspension to a 3-1 New England and proceeded to play as a man on a mission.
Throwing for over 3,500 yards and 28 touchdowns to only two interceptions, many have him pegged as the MVP of the league again. What’s more impressive is that Brady is 39 years old and playing at his highest level. When you take into account say Peyton Manning at 39 and playing, there is really no comparison between the two.
As for the rest of the Patriots, players like wide receiver Chris Hogan and Julian Edelman have gone off. Throw in LeGarrette Blount, who rushed for over 1,100 yards and scored a New England record 18 touchdowns and you have one of the most efficient offenses in the NFL. Sitting in the top five in most categories, the Pats are ranked third in points per game (27.6), fourth in yards per game (386.2) and fourth in passing yards per game (269.2). This offense is good, and they have the stats to back it up.
The defensive side of the ball for New England has been excellent as well. Sitting alone in points allowed per game (15.6), fourth in rushing yards per game (88.6) and eighth in total yards allowed (326.4). What’s more surprising is they did all this without Jamie Collins who they traded to the Cleveland Browns for a third round draft pick.
Players like Trey Flowers and Jabaal Sheard help anchor the front of the “D,” while Devin McCourty, Patrick Chung and Malcolm Butler hold down the secondary. They may not be flashy, but much like Kansas City they force mistakes on the opposing team, and have a turnover differential of plus 12 on the season.
New England is a team of great opportunities. They seem to find talent where others have not. Even if the Kansas City Chiefs would have went onto the AFC Championship, there is not a lot to stop this Patriot train as it heads for Super Bowl LI.
The Atlanta Falcons
The Atlanta Falcons are the NFL’s number one offense in 2016. Led by quarterback Matt Ryan, or better known as “Matty Ice.”
Ryan has had a MVP type year in 2016. He threw for nearly 5,000 yards, with 38 touchdowns and only seven interceptions, with a passer rating of 117.1. Ryan has been so good this year, and rightfully should be the NFL’s MVP. Some of his games have been like playing Madden. At the game against the Carolina Panthers he threw for 503 yards, four touchdowns and only one interception for a rating of 142! Whew.
But it has not been just Ryan as the key to the cog of this offense. Wide receiver Julio Jones amassed over 1,400 yards with eight scores during the 2016 regular season. The pickup of Mohamed Sanu has proved a wise decision as well, as the former Bengal was second on the team with 653 yards and four touchdowns. Thrown in one of the best running back duos in the NFL with Devonta Freeman 1079 yards and 11 rushing touchdowns, and Tevin Coleman 520 yards and eight scores, and they can hurt you though the air and on the ground.
The stats for this Falcons’ offense don’t really give justice to how explosive this group can truly be. First in points per game with 33.8, second in yards per game with 415.8, and third in passing yards per game with 295.3 yards per game. They can score any given play and have shown that they have what it takes to be the best in the NFL.
On the defensive side of the ball the Falcons have not been as successful as their upcoming opponent in New England. Allowing 25.4 points per game (27th), 371.2 total yards per game (25th) and 266.7 passing yards per game (28th).
Don’t let those stats fool you, the defense of the Falcons should not be overlooked. Linebacker Vic Beasley was on a tear in the NFL and opposing quarterbacks were choice of food, racking up 15.5 sacks and finishing first in the NFL. Middle linebacker Deion Jones and strong safety Keanu Neal both had over 100 tackles, and Neal was responsible for five fumbles. They completely manhandled the Green Bay Packers in the championship game, and while the stats don’t necessarily match up, they are a hard-hitting, in your face defense.
Atlanta is good, they fought their way to the biggest game of the year, and New England should be a little scared whenever number two, and No. 11 lines up across for the defense of the Patriots.
As I said before this Sunday will mark just the eighth time the number one offense has faced the number one defense in the big show. Both New England and The Atlanta Falcons have weaknesses that can be exploited if the right game plan is executed.
For the Pats, it is getting into the face of Tom Brady. It goes without saying that he is one of the greatest of all-time and you have to get up and close with him to disrupt his game. But that is easier said than done. Their defense is good, and can make you pay, but can be taken advantage of at the same time. They can make mistakes, the key is getting them to, because whether it is a high scoring game or a low scoring game, New England can keep up.
The Falcons have a weak defense, yes they get in your face but they also can be over opportunistic and give up the long play from time to time. The offense can also be shut down. If you can take Ryan and Jones out of the picture while limiting the running backs, you can slow down the game, and keep that offense on the sidelines where they need to be in order to win.
This will be one of the best games of the year. The unstoppable offense meets the wall of a defense. It is hard to pick a team, this could be one of those games we want to watch forever. However a pick must be made, it was the whole point of writing this, and hopefully why you are reading it. Therefore the winner of Super Bowl LI will be….
The New England Patriots.
Sorry Falcons fans, but you have a lot going against you. Number one, Bill Belichick. He is one of the best coaches in the NFL and he has had two weeks to prepare for the offense of the Falcons. Defensive Coordinator Matt Patricia is not only the man with the awesome beard and the backwards ball cap, but he knows your offense and he knows how to stop it.
Even if this game were to go into a shootout, I still think New England can go toe to toe with Atlanta when it comes to scoring points. Brady can sit back and pick apart a team with computer like speed that he will find the holes in the Falcon D and he will make you pay. This is a game that could come down to the last play, and if there is one man on the last play of the game you want throwing the ball, it’s Tom Brady.
New England 34 , Atlanta 28
What do you think, Addicts? Am I right on with my prediction or am I crazy? Let us know your predictions in the comments below.
Thanks for reading.