We finally made it. The daytime novela that is the 2016 NFL season — one woven with a slew of contentious headlines from “Deflategate” and abysmal officiating, to national anthem protests, relocating franchises, and poor TV ratings — has reached its finale. On Sunday, February 5, the likely MVP Matt Ryan and the Atlanta Falcons will face off against the New England Patriots and arguably the greatest quarterback of all-time, Tom Brady, at Super Bowl LI at NRG Stadium in Houston, Texas.
Currently, the Patriots are three-point favorites, with the over-under at 58.5, the highest ever for a Super Bowl. Led by 39-year-old Tom Brady and mastermind head coach Bill Belichick, the Patriots finished atop the entire league at 14-2, despite Brady missing the first four games of the regular season serving a suspension for his role in the aforementioned Deflategate scandal, and losing Tom’s favorite target, Rob Gronkowski, in week 12 to an injury. In the top five for a number of offensive and defensive statistical categories all season, the AFC champs coasted through this past year, winning at a margin of 12 points, the best in the NFL.
The 11-5 Falcons on the other hand come in with a game-plan that favors its firepower offense. The duo of Matt Ryan and Julio Jones, along with a robust supporting cast of young, capable receivers and Pro Bowl running back Devonta Freeman, led Atlanta to a league best 34.4 points per game, and number two on the yards per game list with 415.8.
We’re all in for a good old fashion shootout on Sunday, meaning whichever defense is able to pull out a few more stops will likely sneak away with the Lombardi trophy as time runs out. Which is why the Patriots are the slight favorites. New England finished eighth in yards allowed (326.4), but first in points allowed (15.6), while Atlanta fell to 25th in yards allowed (371.2) and 27th in points allowed (25.4). This will be the sixth Super Bowl since the AFL-NFL merger in 1970 to feature the number one scoring offense against the number one scoring defense, with the latter team winning four of the previous five matchups. So while both secondaries are more than likely helpless against these two quarterbacks, it may end up coming down to who can slow down the other’s rushing attack, which again favors New England.
Super Bowl LI marks the Patriots’ NFL-record ninth Super Bowl appearance, as well as their seventh in the last 16 years under the legendary quarterback-head coach duo of Brady and Belichick. The two are 4-2 in Super Bowl games with both losses coming at the hands of the New York Giants and their hard-hitting defense. However if they win, they each will have the most Lombardi trophies for their positions. For the Falcons, this game marks their second Super Bowl appearance in franchise history, after having lost Super Bowl XXXIII to John Elway and the Denver Broncos.
Kickoff is slated for 6:30 p.m. ET on Sunday and will air on Fox with Joe Buck, Troy Aikman and Erin Andrews serving as your announcers, and Lady Gaga as your halftime entertainment.
Who Will Win Super Bowl LI
- Atlanta Falcons
- New England Patriots
- WINSLOW TOWNSON/AP