Sunday, Sunday, Sunday! (Admit it, you read that in your best 90’s Jan Gabriel moto voice) All eyes will be on Houston for Super Bowl 51 where the Atlanta Falcons will take on the New England Patriots.
Atlanta comes off an 11-5 regular season, powered by a speedy defense and Swiss Army knife of an offense. Under offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan, quarterback Matt Ryan has enjoyed the best season of his career, posting career highs in yards and touchdowns. Atlanta will make its first Super Bowl appearance since 1999.
New England comes off a 14-2 regular season lead by future hall of famer Tom Brady. The Patriots also boast a stingy defense, ranked number one in the NFL. New England will look to cement its legacy as one of the most dominant dynasties in the history of the National Football League. Under the Bill Belichick/Tom Brady era they have been the winningest QB/coach tandem in league history, making six Super Bowl appearances and winning four of them.
Things to watch
- The unstoppable force vs the immovable object – we have heard that aplenty in games of this magnitude and this is no different. Atlanta has evolved from only a Matt Ryan-Julio Jones connection to an any skill position that takes the field can make you pay total package. Can the Falcons dissect a tough Patriots defense, who, under Bill Belichick, are notorious for taking your best players completely out of a game?
- Falcons defense vs Patriots running backs– Can Atlanta neutralize New England’s three headed running back stable? LaGarrette Blount (1161 rushing yards, 18td) is a force between the tackles while pass-catching backs James White and Dion Lewis are both legitimate threats coming out of the backfield.
- Malcolm Butler vs Julio Jones – In December of 2012, while he was still at West Alabama, and four years before he would make a game sealing interception to clinch his team a Super Bowl, a young Butler tweeted the following: “I wanna check Julio Jones.” His wish has been granted. Butler, the second ranked cornerback in the league per Pro Football Focus, will be tested early and often this game. Jones comes into this game after reeling in nine catches for 180 yards and two touchdowns against Green Bay.
This game features savory match-ups across the board and should be an entertaining game that will engage even the most pedestrian fan. Expect this one to go wire to wire.
*Photo courtesy of foxnews13.com