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Super Bowl LI Preview: New England Patriots vs. Atlanta Falcons

Super Bowl LI NFL Communications


Super Bowl LI Preview: New England Patriots vs. Atlanta Falcons

The red hot Atlanta Falcons will make the trip to Houston to take on Tom Brady and the New England Patriots on Sunday, February 5th in Super Bowl LI.  The game is scheduled for a 6:30pm EST kickoff and will be played at NRG Stadium, home of the Houston Texans.


Atlanta Offense

One of the biggest stories of the postseason has been Atlanta‘s ability to score at will against their opponents.  The Falcons speed across the board has proven unstoppable so far.  No one has been able to stop the connection between quarterback Matt Ryan and All Pro receiver Julio Jones, who has recorded 15 receptions on 20 targets totaling 247 yards and three touchdowns.

Matt Ryan, who is considered to be the favorite to win the NFL‘s Most Valuable Player award has been equally as impressive throughout the regular season and playoffs.  Ryan, the former Boston College standout has put up a gaudy stat line this year:

4944 yards, 38 TD, 7 INT

He’s also added an impressive 720 yards and 8 total touchdowns in the playoffs.  The Atlanta quarterback hasn’t thrown an interception since the team’s week 13 matchup against the Chiefs.

The Falcons have received solid offensive line play, and a speed element at the running back position that is difficult to find on other teams, which has caused nightmares for opposing defenders.

If the Falcons want to defeat the legendary BelichickBrady duo in Super Bowl LI, they’ll have to continue providing the explosive offense that fans have seen this season.  New England has shown the ability to take away teams top threats over the past several years, including last weeks matchup against the Pittsburgh Steelers, holding star wide receiver Antonio Brown to 77 yards.

Ryan will need to find a way to get the ball in the hands of his teams playmakers, including top option Julio Jones in this one.

Tom Brady’s Revenge

What would a Super Bowl preview be without talking about Tom Brady?  Since his week 5 return, Brady has shown exactly how he feels about his early season suspension.  It simply doesn’t matter who he plays with, all he does is win.

Lacrosse player? Fine. Transformed quarterback taken in the final round of the draft? That’s cool.  Tom Brady will throw the ball to anyone he’s given. Much of the Patriots success can be attributed to the ability to build up other positions due to the fact that they do not need to prove their star quarterback with top tier weapons at the skill positions to win games.

It almost seems like a forgone conclusion that commissioner Roger Goodell will have to hand the prized Lombardi Trophy to number 12 in a few weeks.  Which will be extremely satisfying as Goodell was responsible for the suspension that the Patriots quarterback served just earlier this season.

The only proven way to beat Brady is by sending the house, and it’s unclear whether this young Atlanta team has the arsenal to do so yet.  Dropping into zone will likely land you on the wrong side of the scoreboard as the Steelers found out, so Atlanta will need to get creative with their scheme for this one.

There’s a reason why he’s often considered to be the greatest quarterback to ever play.  When he’s on the biggest stage, he doesn’t back down.  He forces his opposition to play their absolute best game if they want to beat him, and this time it’s Atlanta‘s turn to play in what has essentially become “Tom’s Game.”


Defense Wins Championships

It seems odd to talk about defense after all the offensive talk, but the defensive game plans in this one will likely be complete opposites.  While Atlanta‘s defense will likely have to take some risks to force turnovers and get to the quarterback, New England will focus on making their Falcons offense beat them, something that has been hard to do with Belichick at the helm.

Atlanta has a young but promising unit, and head coach Dan Quinn has implemented some of what made him a successful coordinator in Seattle.  They are without some key players, however, including top cornerback Desmond Trufant.

They drafted players like Vic Beasley to get after the quarterback in games like this one, so it will be interesting to see if the rookie is able to make an impact.

For the Patriots, they’ve been known to load up on interior players on both sides of the ball in recent drafts, but the players in the secondary have been difficult for opposing teams.  New England held their opponents to fewer points than any other team during the regular season due to their ability to limit the passing game.  Emerging star Malcom Butler and his partner Logan Ryan have become one of the best duos at cornerback in the entire league, along with Devin McCourty playing over the top will prove to be a difficult task, even for the explosive dirty birds.  The Patriots have also used safety Patrick Chung in run support, showing they can get the most out of every player on their roster.

TSJ’s Super Bowl LI Predictions

After talking with some of the members of the TSJ Sports NFL department, I wanted to put together a collection of our opinions about the outcome of this game.  The results are listed below:

John Monroe Jr – NFL Department Head: New England 38, Atlanta 33

Nathan Blair – Baltimore Ravens Beat: New England 20, Atlanta 31

Nick Wright – Dallas Cowboys Beat: New England 33, Atlanta 30

Harley Morse – Oakland Raiders Beat: New England 27, Atlanta 30

Anthony Vallesteros – Pittsburgh Steelers Beat: New England 27, Atlanta 26

Mike Hopfinger – Green Bay Packers Beat: New England 24, Atlanta 34

So, it looks like we have a tie at three a piece for both teams, which supports the fact that many people believe that the biggest battle will be the overall top-to-bottom talent of the Falcons against the greatness that is Tom Brady. It’s going to be a good one either way.

Be sure to follow TSJ Sports coverage leading up to the Super Bowl and our various other off season coverage including the Pro Bowl, the Senior Bowl, the NFL Combine, and the 2017 NFL Draft.