Saturday, February 4, 2017

Super Bowl LI Preview

Justin Rasile

The Super Bowl is here and it brings up a lot of feelings.  Joy because the Super Bowl is fricken awesome.  Somberness because this is the last NFL game we will have for quite some time.  Disgust because the Patriots are in it again.  So put down your beer and let’s talk about this game!

We all know the story.  Deflategate blah blah blah.  Tom Brady is tired of hearing it as much as Roger Goodell and the rest of the world is.  But truth be told, I’m sure it’s been wearing on Tom Terrific as well.  He’s had this pent-up angst and burning desire to shove a deflated football down Goodell’s throat but the NFL is a long season and at this point in the year your body and mind are beat down. So it will be interesting to see if Brady can maintain that fire during the game (most likely he can).

The high flyin’ Atlanta Falcons come soaring into Houston to hopefully make all of our wishes come true: a true beatdown of the infamous Pats.  Wouldn’t it be grand to see Atlanta go up three touchdowns with five minutes remaining in the first half?  Julio Jones has 125 receiving yards including a touchdown of over fifty yards. Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman have a combined 150 rushing yards and a touchdown each.  I think this is a little farfetched but let a life long Patriots hater dream.

Most would say this game will be an offensive explosion and surpass the all-time points scored in a Super Bowl of 75 (Super Bowl 29 when the 49ers beat the Chargers 49 to 26). I think it will be a decently high scoring game but nothing to that magnitude.  We have all seen in recent memory that defense wins championships and this year it will come down to who plays better on that side of the ball.  Bill Belichick and Dan Quinn are superbly intellectual and know what they need to do to stop offenses.  Quinn has a little bit more work to do as the average age of his secondary is under 25 years old.  Conversely, Belichick’s team has twenty-two players who have played in the big game (compared to Atlanta’s four). This will be an interesting part of the game to watch and see if experience really does trump.

This game will come down to Atlanta’s defense against Tom Brady and that short, controlled passing game.  The linebackers for the Dirty Birds will need to play a helluva game and they HAVE to tackle the running backs and receivers well in space.  Tom Brady needs to be hit hard and often. Dwight Freeney will have to find one last gear so that he can take some of the pressure off of Vic Beasley, who will undoubtedly be double teamed the entire game.  The Falcons need their role players to step up in a huge way.  Jonathan Babineaux, Ra’Shede Hageman and Tyson Jackson.  Somebody must penetrate that massively improved offensive line.

Some interesting stats to watch for.
  • The Patriots are undefeated when Dion Lewis plays for the Patriots (16-0)
  • Tom Brady has yet to be beaten by the Falcons (4-0)
  • Falcons scored the 7th most points in league history (540 points)
  • Tom Brady has 49 career game winning drives
  • The Falcons have scored on their first drive in eight consecutive games, an NFL record
  • In all of the Patriots Super Bowl victories, they lost the coin toss
It seems like a longshot but the Falcons have a great chance with that incredible offense. Kyle Shanahan must have a great gameplan against Belichick’s brilliant defensive mind. The Falcons also have a terrific defensive minded head coach in Dan Quinn, although his defense is not as good.  He has won a Super Bowl as defensive coordinator with the Seattle Seahawks and nearly beat the Patriots back in Super Bowl 49.  He knows how to beat the unbeatable New England team.

Let’s go for an in depth prediction because I have a gut feeling about the Falcons winning this game and some other prop bets:

  • Coin flip will be tails (or their version of tails)
  • At least two trick plays (fake punt/FG, suprise onside kick, double reverses, etc.)
  • One trick play involving a pass from Mohamed Sanu
  • Martellus Bennett scores the first receiving touchdown for New England
  • Devonta Freeman scores first Falcons touchdown
  • Malcom Butler will be exploited by Julio Jones as an overrated corner
  • Lime green Gatorade will be poured on the winning coach

Atlanta 31 - New England 27

Matt Ryan scores with a little over two minutes to go and leaves Tom Brady with just enough time for one of his famous game winning drives (as he has 49 in his career). Except this time he throws an interception to seal the game and give the Falcons their first ever Super Bowl victory.

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