Two of the best offensive teams of the 2016 season meet head on for Super Bowl 51 in Houston. That pretty much sums up the strengths of both the New England Patriots and the Atlanta Falcons. Both do not have a dominating defense. They are both average at best. I say this because the offense has put less pressure on them by scoring so many points throughout the season. My one hope year in and year out for the ‘big game’ is that it doesn’t end up being a one-sided affair. Meaning one team is blowing out the other. That could happen this year, but I’ll hope for the best.
What else needs to be said about New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick? This will be his 7th Super Bowl appearance. Like Bill Walsh and the 49ers teams of the 1980s, his coaching tree is outstretched across the league. Almost every team in the league tries to emulate what he does on a daily basis. It hasn’t worked since this is the 6th consecutive year that the Patriots have either played in or were one game away from playing in a Super Bowl. The consistency here is staggering.
On the other side you have Atlanta Falcons head coach Dan Quinn who has only been on the job for two seasons. He was previously the defensive coordinator for the Seattle Seahawks. The last time he was in a Super Bowl was against New England in Super Bowl 49. This shouldn’t be any different for Quinn who has one of the best offensive teams in recent memory. He just has to remember what worked for him with Seattle to try to slow down Tom Brady and the Patriots offense.
Players to Watch
We all are wondering if Tom Brady will win his 5th Super Bowl. He will need a lot of help to do that. There will be no Rob Gronkowski this time around. The number one target will be Julian Edelman. He has been spectacular this season and with a Steelers team focusing purely on him in the championship game, that left Chris Hogan to have a career day. A repeat of that probably is too much to ask, but Edelman will get his looks in the short passing game that New England uses to perfection.
Julio Jones is good, very good. Patriots CB Malcolm Butler better be careful what he’s asking for because many elite corners have been burned by Jones in his relatively short six year career. His size presents a mismatch every week, but his deceptive speed is what sets him apart from most receivers. Watching him do what he did against Green Bay’s defense makes you wonder if he can repeat that against a better secondary. In all likelihood he absolutely can and must.
Key of the Game
As with every Super Bowl, if you can put the opposing quarterback on his back, you stand a good chance of winning. While it looks to be a high scoring affair, one thing can’t be overlooked in the matchup; will either team become one dimensional? Atlanta is an unstoppable offense when they are running the ball effectively. Both Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman are their work horses. For New England they have LeGarrette Blount as the bruiser and Dion Lewis is the speedster that can wreak havoc in the passing game as well. Whomever wins the line of scrimmage with the ground game, will hold a big advantage.
Who Will Win?
While I wouldn’t be surprised to see either team come away with a victory, the Atlanta Falcons are a relatively solid choice to win this game. They have the right pieces in place to win this year and for many years down the line if necessary. You could say that they are built in a similar way that the Patriots have been. With that said, I have the New England Patriots winning by a score of 35-24. Too much experience with Tom Brady and Bill Belichick and a Falcons defense that I’m afraid will be exposed for the first time in these playoffs.