Weekly Matchups - Super Bowl LI
Posted by d-Rx on 02/03/17
New England (-3) vs. Atlanta Falcons; Over/Under: 58.5
Let’s just start by stating that 58.5 is the highest over/under in Super Bowl history, so the brainiacs in Vegas think there is going to be a lot of scoring happening in this game. The 33.8 points per game by the Falcons (540 total points) led the NFL this season, while the Patriots came in 3rd with 27.6 (441 total points) points per game. In the 2 playoff games each team has played so far this season, the Falcons are averaging 40 points per game and the Patriots are averaging 35 points per game. Holy crap, let the scoreboard ring! On defense in those 2 games, the Falcons allowed Seattle and Green Bay to score 41 points against them, and the Patriots have only allowed 33 points by the Texans and Steelers this postseason.
The Patriots are playing in their NFL-record 9th Super Bowl appearance, the 7th during the Tom Brady and Bill Belicheck era. They’ve won 4 of their 6 appearances thus far. Will Tom Brady have a hand full of hardware Sunday Night and go 5 of 7 in his Super Bowl appearances? Or will Atlanta win their first championship in their second ever Super Bowl chance. The Falcons currently sit with the Cardinals, Bills, Jaguars, Vikings, Panthers, Bengals, Lions, Chargers, Browns, Texans, Eagles and Titans as the only 13 NFL teams that have never won a Lombardi Trophy. So it's essentially the Falcons getting off the schneid or the Patriots solidify their legacy as the greatest dynasty the NFL has seen to date.
This is the third time the Super Bowl has taken place in Houston. This is also Dan Quinn’s third Super Bowl in the last 4 years, which is super impressive. Quinn lost to Tom Brady and the Patriots a couple of years ago as the defensive coordinator of the Seahawks. In just his second year as head coach of the Falcons, he has brought them to the biggest game in all of professional sports, he's an under-rated coach.
The fact is, neither team wants to get caught in a shootout here, but the Falcons will be in unchartered waters if the Patriots were to get off to a quick start and jump out to an early lead. That would put a lot of pressure on Julio Jones, and take the running attack away. But the Falcons are great at getting on the board early given the fact that Atlanta has scored touchdowns on their last 8 opening drives, which is insane. The result may be Bill taking the ball first if the Patriots were to win the coin toss before the game, something he usually differs. The first quarter of this game will be make or break for the Falcons in my eyes, it will be tough for them to come back if down early.
The New England offense can attack the Falcons a lot of ways. They have a bevy of talent for Terrific Tom to quickly get the ball out of his hands and into the playing field. The Falcons are going to have to use Vic Beasley all over the place, but especially up the middle and get in Brady’s face quickly and rough him up, or else #12 will eat them alive. When James White is the game they are passing, 92% of the time, so if you see him out there, expect a passing play. Staggs and Houdini both think this is a Blount game.
The Patriots can smash the Falcons on the ground using Blount, just look at the Philadelphia Eagles win over the Falcons in week 10, where the Eagles won using their 3 running backs (Ryan Mathews, Wendell Smallwood and Darren Sproles) on 34 carries for 198 yards and 2 TDs. I'd look for the Patriots to potentially follow that game plan model and set the tone by running a lot in order to keep the Falcons high-flying offense on the sidelines. If they can move the chains on the ground, Brady may have a pretty chill day at the office.
Patriots are going to target the hell out of Julian Edelman, but will he be getting the red zone looks? With a Gronk out, will The Black Unicorn be the one that gets one in the red zone? Tough call. Staggs doesn't see Hogan lighting it up. Tom Brady is tough to blitz, on the season he has gone 61 of 99 throws for 838 passing yards and 11 touchdowns, and no interceptions. Heres the crazy part, he was only sacked twice on those 99 blitzes. Not an easy guy to throw the kitchen sink at, but what choice do the Falcons have - if you give him time Brady will slice you up. It's going to be a long day for the Falcons defense, that is for sure.
Both offensive coordinators in McDaniel and Shanahan are very creative play callers, so Staggs believes there will be an array of creative plays called from each side on offense. On the latest Pyro Podcast (show 261) both Staggs and Houdini agreed the final score will be 28-24 with the Patriots winning it again. The winner of the game earns $97,000 and the loser gets paid $49,000 so who wants the money more? While all of said we'd love to see Julio, Matt and the rest of the team get a ring for the ATL, it's going to be tough to achive. Should be an awesome game though.
While most of the chatter has been on how BB can scheme and come up with a defensive gameplan to slow down the Falcons offense, the Falcons defense is riding high at the moment themselves, after the Falcons bye week in Week 12 they have been a top-10 defense league-wide. Not chop liver by any means, and they were able to make Aaron Rodgers and the Packers offense look marginal a couple of weeks ago in the NFC Conference Championship game.
Atlanta has converted 64 percent of their 3rd downs this season, over 20 points higher than their regular season rate (42.1), which against the Patriots you have to think will come back down to earth. The Falcons have 2 explosive running backs in Tevin Coleman and Devonte Freeman, but the Patriots gameplan take you out of your element, make you stop running, they don’t allow touchdowns to RBs, but they are susceptible to running backs catching passes on them. Don’t expect a long touchdown run by one of these Falcons running backs, seeing that the Patriots only let up 1 carry of over 30 yards on the season. They are really tough to run on.
Julio Jones is going to be beat up and hit a lot, every play - hard and often. It’s what Belichick does, he’ll knock the star player in the jaw till the guy breaks and doesn’t want to get hit anymore. Staggs thinks Julio will still get his stats, but the Patriots are great tacklers, so don't exect a long play on a missed tackle like he did on the Packers. It shouldn’t be a 1 on 1 by Malcolm Butler, while they bracket Julio in order to take him out. When Julio is hurt he can be used as more of a decoy, so let's hope he is really healthy for this big game or the Falcons are toast. Mohamed Sanu has been playing well and will have to make some plays in this game if the Falcons are going pull this game out. Rooting for Mohamed to have a good game and represent all the Muslim people out there that he represents in this game.
So sit back and throw down a few Vaaalverdes on Sunday, and let's all hope for a great game. I hope you all win your squares and your team wins, it's a sad day in sports come Monday with the NFL season being complete, so enjoy this last game to the fullest! Much love and respect! //d-Rx®
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