Looking Ahead to Super Bowl LI

On Sunday, February 5th, the Atlanta Falcons and New England Patriots will face off for Super Bowl LI at NRG Stadium in Houston, Texas.  The Patriots are favorites to win what would be their 5th title under Bill Belichick and Tom Brady.  With two of the best quarterbacks in the game right now facing off, it appears likely that the Super Bowl will be a high-scoring game.

Most football fans already know the history surrounding the Patriots in the Brady and Belichick era.  The two are arguably the greatest at their position in their era.  Due to their dominance just about every year, the Patriots are hated by just about every football fan that isn’t already a Patriots fan.  The Patriots are basically the Yankees of the NFL- it feels as though they always find themselves in the playoffs and everybody loves to hate them.

As far as seeing how the Patriots and Falcons match up with each other, the Patriots are the same old dominant team.  One big factor that may hurt the Pats is the fact that they will be playing without their star tight end, Rob Gronkowski, who is still recovering from back surgery.  Still, Brady has plenty of other potentially dangerous targets that he could throw to.  Wide receiver Chris Hogan is coming off the best game of his career, in which he caught 9 passes for 180 yards and 2 touchdowns.  Julian Edelman is Brady’s favorite wide receiver target.  Michael Floyd and Danny Amendola may be just as dangerous as Edelman. The young and talented Falcons defense faces the tough task of containing these receivers as well as putting pressure on Tom Brady.

Matt Ryan appears to be a front-runner for the MVP award.  He has continued his strong play into the postseason, leading the Falcons to their first Super Bowl appearance since 1999.  In the regular season, Ryan threw for 4,944 yards, with 38 touchdowns and just 7 interceptions.  In the playoffs, he has continued to dominate, throwing for 730 yards and 7 touchdowns so far.  With the way he’s looked this postseason, it doesn’t look like any defense can stop him.  It also doesn’t hurt that he has one of the best wide receivers in the game in Julio Jones.  In the NFC Championship game against the Packers, Jones had 9 receptions for 180 yards and 2 touchdowns, including a 73-yard catch and run for a touchdown. Patriots cornerback Malcolm Butler faces the unenviable task of trying to contain Julio Jones.

I feel that the Falcons are the team with the edge in this match-up.  Matt Ryan has shown the ability to consistently put together very long drives, especially from inside the Falcons’ own 10 yard-line.  Putting together long and successful drives may be the key to a Falcons Super Bowl victory.  Matt Ryan needs to keep Tom Brady on the sidelines for as long as possible while driving his offense downfield.  Additionally, I feel that the Falcons young defense has the capability to stop Tom Brady.  This was shown in the NFC Championship game when they were able to limit Aaron Rodgers to 287 yards and 3 touchdowns, which is impressive considering how well he had been playing before that game.  If the Falcons can rattle Brady in the same way that they rattled Rodgers, they have a very good chance at becoming Super Bowl champs for the first time in franchise history.

Author: sufferingnysportsfans

I'm an honors student and journalism major at Hofstra University. My goal is to one day become a sports journalist, covering the New York Mets.

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