Super Bowl LI Preview and Predictions

Atlanta Falcons vs New England Patriots (-3)

NB: Atlanta Falcons. I hate picking against the Patriots, especially in the Super Bowl, but I think the Falcons will win on Sunday outright. One of the strengths of both teams is that they have plenty of guys that can beat you on offense. For the Falcons, I think the two headed monster in the backfield of Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman will give them an edge. If for some reason Matt Ryan comes out nervous or cold, these two guys will give him both easy passes to heat up and an option to handoff to if needed. Or Ryan can just start off hot and keep it rolling downhill. The Falcons also have Julio Jones who is unquestionably the best playmaker on either team. This will force the Pats D to either double cover him (leading to open receivers all over the field) or playing him 1on1 and hoping for the best. Big advantage for the Falcons. The Atlanta offense will get theirs, so the other side of the ball will really be where the game is won. The Giants and Ravens have shown the blueprint over the years for beating the Patriots: getting to Tom Brady early and often. While the Falcons D isn’t elite, they do have one very important pass rusher in Vic Beasley. If Beasley continues to put pressure on the QB as he has all season, Brady could be off his game. Combine that with a solid secondary, and I think the Pats will have more trouble moving the ball than expected. The Patriots also haven’t really been challenged since early November when they got punked Seattle at home. I think the Pats are a little overrated this year in a soft AFC, and they are due to get exposed by a more talented team. Matt Ryan picks up MVP as the city of Atlanta continues their cultural hot streak. Atlanta Falcons 36, New England Patriots 23.

RH: Atlanta Falcons. The Brady-Belichick Patriots have always played close games in the Super Bowl whether they won or lost. All six(!) of the Pats Super Sunday games have been decided by either 3 or 4 points so I do not expect either team to run away with this one. The Falcons finished the regular season as the eighth highest scoring team in league history and have not missed a beat during the playoffs. The Patriots continue to be the most well oiled machine in all of sports and will no doubt be ready in this one. This game will likely be decided by how effective the Falcons are in the run game. Led by maybe the best backfield in the league Atlanta finished 7th in the league rushing DVOA in 2016 while New England was 4th overall in defensive rushing DVOA. During the regular season the Falcons struggled running the ball against some of the top teams in defensive rushing DVOA during games against Seattle (2nd) Philadelphia (13th) and Los Angeles (6th) the Falcons failed to rush for more than 66 yards going 1-2 in those contests. I think the Pats will be able to neutralize the Falcons run game making this a game decided by quarterback play in which I will always take Tom Brady to pull through. Atlanta covers, but the Pats win. New England Patriots 31, Atlanta Falcons 30.

P.S. Don’t forget to check out our Super Bowl Prop Bet piece from earlier this week!

Playoff Record:

NB: 4-6 (1-1 last week)

RH: 5-5 (1-1 last week)

Regular Season Record:

NB: 125-124-7

RH: 107-142-7

-Nick Bair & Randy Haines

Odds according to Westgate Las Vegas

Photo credit: Sporting News

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