Super Bowl 51: Showdown in Texas

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The Atlanta Falcons will take the field against the New England Patriots Sunday February 5th in Houston, Texas. The Falcons (11-5) path to the Super Bowl was enjoyable at home in the Georgia Dome where they beat the Seattle Seahawks and Green Bay Packers. The Patriots (14-2) also enjoyed their home field advantage where they beat the Houston Texans and Pittsburgh Steelers.

People planning to watch the Super Bowl this year should get their popcorn ready because this game has the chance to be one of the higher scoring Super Bowls in history. The Falcons and Patriots have been the two most explosive offenses during the 2016-17 season. The Falcons averaged 33 points a game during the regular season and averaged 40 points a game during the playoffs. The Patriots averaged 27 points a game during the regular season and 35 points a game during the playoffs.

Leading these two explosive offenses is two of the elite quarterbacks in the National Football League. Matt Ryan is the quarterback for the Falcons and Tom Brady, who is the quarterback for the Patriots. Both quarterbacks played extremely well during the playoffs and are a big reason why their teams made it to the Super Bowl. Ryan threw seven touchdown passes and zero interceptions in the two playoff games while Brady threw for five touchdown passes and two interceptions.

Tom Brady is looking to make history in his remarkable seventh Super Bowl (4-2 in Super Bowl games) with the chance to become the first quarterback ever to win five Super Bowl Rings. Right now Brady is tied with Joe Montana and Terry Bradshaw with four Super Bowl Rings. On the other side, Matt Ryan is making his Super Bowl debut, who leads the Falcons to their second Super Bowl appearance and is looking to bring the first Lombardi trophy to Atlanta. The Falcons first Super Bowl appearance was back in 1998 when they lost to the Denver Broncos.

The first matchup to take a look at is the Falcons’ offensive line versus the pass rush of the Patriots. Much of Matt Ryan’s success this season is due to the fact that he is getting the protection and time he needs to read the field, thanks to his offense. The Falcons offense line was beefed up in the off-season with the signing of center Alex Mack. Mack is a pro-bowl center that has bolstered the offense line this season who needs to be on their game against the Patriots defense on Sunday. If the offense line can keep their quarterback clean, the Falcons offense will be in good shape.

Another matchup that is a must watch will be of the superstar wide receiver, Julio Jones (Falcons) going up against Super Bowl 49 hero, Malcolm Butler (Patriots).  Jones is one of the great wide receivers in the NFL who has the ability to put up huge numbers anytime he steps onto the field. He is a physical wide receiver with the speed to get by any defensive secondary. Butler is a good cornerback in the NFL who is most memorable for his interception that won Super Bowl 49 for the Patriots. He has been in the spotlight before and should be up to the challenge in trying to stop Julio Jones.

The final matchup to watch is the speed of the Falcons offense and how the Patriots will look to defend that. The Falcons have a quick hitting offense that can score at any time and many different players that are able to get the ball to score. Devonte Freeman and Tevin Coleman is a two-headed monster at the running back position who are explosive and dynamic as both are very good at catching the ball out of the backfield. Taylor Gabriel, a speedy wide receiver, is another weapon who as emerged for the Falcons. He is a tough matchup in the slot for the patriots as he is very good and explosive at wide receiver screens or being handed off to.

How the Patriots can defend against the speed of the Falcons offense is actually with the Patriots offense. Tom Brady and company can play “keep away” by dominating the time of possession. Patriots running back LaGarrett Blount is a bruiser back that might be the best defense in slowing the Falcons high octane offense. The biggest weakness for the Falcons is their defense that is known to give up points if they can’t get off the field on third downs – the Falcons may be in for a rough day on Sunday.

The last things to watch in Super Bowl 51 will be how the Patriots past Super Bowl experience benefit them and how will the anxious Falcons settle into this game. The Patriots have many players who have played in Super Bowl before so they can help others know what to expect for the game and week before. While the Falcons are new to this and we’ll see if they will be able to adjust the big game spotlight.

In Conclusion, this game has the making of one of the great Super Bowls in NFL history. The expectation for this game is to be high scoring, which may favor the Falcons who are used to being in a shootout, but the Patriots have experience and a four-time Super Bowl winner at the helm leading their offense. What we know for sure though, is when the clock hits zero on Sunday night, we will have witnessed a historical moment, as it could be the Atlanta Falcons’ first Super Bowl win – or it may be the fifth Super Bowl win for Tom Brady.

 

*All stats from ESPN

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