#102 Atlanta Falconsvs.#101 New England Patriots
Sunday, February 2 2017, at 6:30pm EST
Written by Benjamin Hayes
Super Bowl LI Early Predictions-Atlanta Falcons vs. New England Patriots
The New England Patriots meet the Atlanta Falcons in the 51 Super Bowl from Houston, Tx., on Sunday, Feb. 5. The Patriots are making their ninth Super Bowl appearance, which is the most championship appearance by any team in the modern era and their seventh since 2001. Atlanta is making their first Super Bowl appearance since 1998, when they fell to Denver.
Atlanta defeated Green Bay in the NFC Championship Game, 44-21 at home to advance to their second Super Bowl. The Falcons also handled Seattle in the divisional round, 36-20. They amassed 422 yards of total offense against Seattle and 493 against Green Bay. Quarterback Matt Ryan is having an MVP-caliber season for the Falcons, throwing for 4,944 yards with 38 TDs and seven picks in the regular season. In the playoff games, Ryan has 730 passing yards wth seven TDs and no interceptions.
New England went 14-2 this season and has now won 16 games overall, despite missing quarterback Tom Brady for the first four games due to a suspension. They also lost all-pro tight end Rob Gronkowski to injury after playing just eight games and still managed 540 yards receiving on 25 catches. The Pats defeated Houston in the division round, 34-16. On Sunday, Jan. 22, they dominated Pittsburgh at home, 36-17. Brady had an incredible regular season, with 3,554 yards passing, 28 TDs and just two picks. In the playoff games, Brady has thrown for 671 yards with five TDs and two interceptions.
Super Bowl Line
The line opened at New England -3 and has remained there in the first 18 hours since the Patriots/Steelers game ended. The total has bounced around from 58 and to as high as 60 in some sports books. If the total stays at 59, that will be the highest over/under in Super Bowl history. In their last five games, New England has scored 36 against Pittsburgh, 34 against Houston, 35 against Miami, 41 against the Jets and just 16 at Denver. Atlanta scored 44 points against the Packers, 36 against Seattle, 38 against the Saints, 33 at Carolina and 41 against San Francisco, In fact, the only time Atlanta was held to anything less than 23 points, when they were held to 15 in a 24-15 loss at Philadelphia.
For those looking at Super Bowl (52) 2018 at U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis, New England is already +600 (6-1) to win another Super Bowl. Green Bay, Dallas, and Pittsburgh are all +1200 (12-1), while Atlanta is surprisingly just +1500 (15-1) along with Denver and Seattle. Before the season began, Atlanta was listed as high at 100-1 odds. San Francisco and Cleveland are last at +3000 (300-1).
The underdog has covered 11 of the last 15 Super Bowls.
Eight of those 11 underdogs won outright.
New England is:
It’s early but Atlanta is the pick right now and it’s great they are getting 3. Matt Ryan is on an incredible roll right now and the Patriots are not at home. Not saying that New England has a significant home-field advantage in the playoffs, but they do. The Falcons are not there to just enjoy Houston. Ryan, Julio Jones, Mohammed Sanu, Taylor Gabriel, Tevin Coleman and Devonta Freeman are all playmakers that will give a solid Pats’ defense headaches all game.
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Ben has been a sports writer for over 30 years, dabbling in college and pro basketball, college and pro football, baseball, college lacrosse, minor league baseball and even college gymnastics. He's also been involved in the gaming industry for over 25 years and has been looking to beat the books since he was 13!