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The Ultimate Double G Sports Super Bowl Preview

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The time has come.

Super Bowl LI is coming THIS weekend and I am here to get you ready for the big game between the New England Patriots and the Atlanta Falcons.

This is a matchup of the two best teams and they established that with dominating victories in the conference championship games. There were no close calls or controversies. These two teams stuck out and earned their way to Houston.

So here it is in all its’ glory: the ultimate Super Bowl preview for your reading pleasure.

How we got here: Atlanta

Week:

1: Loss vs. Tampa Bay 31-24

2: Win at Oakland 35-28

3: Win at New Orleans 45-32

4: Win vs. Carolina 48-33

5: Win at Denver 23-16

6: Loss at Seattle 26-24

7: Loss vs. San Diego 33-30

8: Win vs. Green Bay 33-32

9: Win at Tampa Bay 43-28

10: Loss at Philadelphia 24-15

11: BYE

12: Win vs. Arizona 38-19

13: Loss vs. Kansas City 29-28

14: Win at Los Angeles 42-14

15: Win vs. San Francisco 41-13

16: Win at Carolina 33-16

17: Win vs. New Orleans 38-32

Divisional: Win vs. Seattle 36-20

NFC Championship: Win vs. Green bay 44-21

  • As you can see, tons of scoring from Atlanta and were also deadly at home. Being on neutral field indoors for the Super Bowl could do wonders for their offense.

How we got here: New England

Week:

1: Win at Arizona 23-21

2: Win vs. Miami 31-24

3: Win vs. Houston 27-0

4: Loss vs. Buffalo 16-0

5: Win at Cleveland 33-13

6: Win vs. Cincinnati 35-17

7: Win at Pittsburgh 27-16

8: Win at Buffalo 41-25

9: BYE

10: Loss vs. Seattle 31-24

11: Win at San Francisco: 30-17

12: Win at New York Jets 22-17

13: Win vs. Los Angeles 26-10

14: Win vs. Baltimore 30-23

15: Win at Denver 16-3

16: Win vs. New York Jets 41-3

17: Win at Miami 35-14

Divisional: Win vs. 34-16

AFC Championship: Win vs. Pittsburgh 36-17

  • Total domination across the board. New England went 3-1 without Tom Brady in the beginning of the year and went on to finish 11-1 with Brady at the helm. They have rarely been challenged this year but will face the best offense in the league for the Super Bowl. Finally, a big test.

Key Storylines

Brady’s Revenge

A long time ago (earlier this season) Tom Brady was finally suspended 4 games for his involvement in Deflategate. Even though the Patriots were 3-1 without Brady and he never publically said anything to show he was vastly upset about the ridiculous suspension, Brady has been on a revenge tour. Throwing 28 touchdowns compared to 2 interceptions over the course of 12 games is crazy good. Too good. You don’t think Brady will savor a fifth title even more if commissioner Roger Goodell has to hand him the Lombardi Trophy? Yup, I thought so.

Atlanta, first time long time

This will be Atlanta’s second trip to the Super Bowl in their franchise’s history and first since 1998. However, by winning the title this year, Atlanta will capture a major sports title for the first time since 1995 when the Atlanta Braves won the World Series and the first championship in Falcons history since their inception in 1966. For a city begging for a champion for so long, can Matt Ryan be the quarterback to do it? Michael Vick was oh so close. In two separate seasons, he beat Green Bay on the road in the playoffs and reached the NFC Championship but fell short of Super Bowl XXXIX.  Ryan fell short of Super Bowl XLVII and many thought that would be his peak. The arrival of offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan has revived Ryan’s career and his statistics have been off the chart since. Ryan had a career year with 38 touchdowns, seven interceptions with 4,944 yards. What a feel good story for the Falcons, especially if they are able to take down the mighty Patriots.

Legacy

The legacy of Brady and Belichick is already set in stone as one of the greatest, if not the greatest quarterback and coach combination. But what they have been able to do, in an age of free agency and a revolving door of players, they have stayed together since Brady became the starter midway through the 2001 season and have won 4 Super Bowls while appearing in 6 before they go to their 7th this weekend. To me, this is unbelievable. Look at the guys the 49ers had back in their hayday. Joe Montana, Jerry Rice, Ronnie Lott, you name it. They had All-Pro and hall of fame players across the board for every title. Now, the Patriots took advantage and won 3 of 4 titles early on with a similar cast, but to win their 4th with an entirely different team is quite the achievement. What will make that even more impressive is that the Patriots can win this game just TWO YEARS LATER with almost an entirely different team. Jamie Collins and Chandler Jones are gone from the defense and Brady is playing with a wide receiver named Chris Hogan. This man had Randy Moss in his prime and didn’t win a title but can win one with this cast: Julian Edelman, Danny Amendola, and Hogan? With no Rob Gronkowski due to injury? Insane. Insane people.

Just use the eye test. I can’t see any other combo of quarterback and coach who could adjust like they have. The mastermind of Belichick’s defense as he teaches defensive coordinator Matt Patricia and trusts him to run it on game day and also the return of offensive guru Josh McDaniels to the team in 2012 just shows the brilliance of Belichick’s hiring’s. His ability to find talent in coaching and finding free agents who have been cut by 3 or 4 teams are turning them into stars in New England; we’ve never seen someone with that type of ability.

Key Matchups

Julio Jones and Mohamed Sanu vs. Patriots Secondary

  • Jones is the best receiver on the field, hands down. Sanu will be going up against fellow Rutgers alums and teammates in Devin McCourty, Logan Ryan, and Duron Harmon. It will be interesting to see former teammates go at it and how the Patriots defense will align their coverage in many scenarios to limit what Jones and Sanu can do.

Tom Brady vs. Atlanta pass rush

  • Generally, if you rush three men, Brady has all day and will find his receiver. If you rush five or more, Brady will get rid of it quickly and still find his receiver. So lets meet in the middle and see if Atlanta will bring four men rushes and hope that star edge man Vic Beasley can get to Brady.

Kyle Shanahan vs. Matt Patricia

  • This has been Matt Ryan’s best season of his career and it has come under Shanahan. But can he outsmart the intelligent Matt Patricia and his defense. The two weeks of game planning and film study will be on display and we will see if Shanahan shows his offense cannot be stopped even by genius defensive minds.

Who has the edge?

Offense: Atlanta

  • Just based on the personnel, Atlanta has the edge talent wise and they have been the No. 1 scoring offense this season.

Defense: New England

  • Belichick and Matt Patricia man the defense. The secondary is one of the best and they still feature veteran defensive end Chris Long.

Special Teams: New England

  • One of the most accurate kickers in NFL history in Stephen Gostowski and special teams ace Matthew Slater who can be a game changer on kick or punt coverage.

Coaching: New England

  • This one is pretty obvious. Belichick or Dan Quinn. Yeah, I’ll go with arguably the greatest coach in NFL history. Yes, that’s Belichick.

Prop bet picks

I thought I’d share with you some of my favorite prop bets this year after scanning the list:

Coin Toss – Heads

  • Sometimes, tails does fail

Color of Gatorade dumped on winning coach – Orange

  • Only because this is the best tasting Gatorade (go ahead, fight me on this one).

Player who scores first touchdown – LeGarrette Blount

  • Well, I think the Patriots are scoring first by virtue of marching down the field on Atlanta’s young defense and Blount is going to make them pay at the goal line.

Over/Under Peyton Manning Commercials (1.5) – Over

  • C’mon. Do you really get tired of those Papa John’s pizzas and Nationwide jingles?

Over/Under times Deflategate is mentioned (2.5) – Under

  • If Joe Buck is as smart as I think he is, he will only mention this once but elaborate on it as a good broadcaster should.

Jersey Colors

A nice little section right after prop bets is something I have become infatuated with: jersey colors for the Super Bowl teams. I try and think what jerseys would look best on teams when factoring in the types of TV cameras (depending upon the station broadcasting the game) and how the Super Bowl logo would look on the jersey itself. Also, there is this one other little thing: the superstition of wearing white.

Take a look at this:

  • The Patriots have been in eight Super Bowls before this one
    • They are 2-1 lifetime in white jerseys, 2-0 with Brady/Belichick
    • They are 2-3 in their blue jerseys, 2-2 with Brady/Belichick
  • 11 of the last 12 Champions have worn white, including the last 5:
    • 50 – Broncos (white) over Panthers
    • 49 – Patriots (white) over Seahawks
    • 48 – Seahawks (white) over Broncos
    • 47 – Ravens (white) over 49ers
    • 46 – Giants (white) over Patriots
    • 45 – Packers over Steelers (white)
    • 44 – Saints (white) over Colts
    • 43 – Steelers (white) over Cardinals
    • 42 – Giants (white) over Patriots
    • 41 – Colts (white) over Bears
    • 40 – Steelers (white) over Seahawks
    • 39 – Patriots (white) over Eagles
  • The Falcons have been in one Super Bowl where they played Denver and Denver wore WHITE. Guess who won? That’s right, the Broncos

That’s a pretty scary and interesting trend huh? So what is my point? Just want to show an interesting tidbit. Also, the Falcons, because it is an odd Super Bowl, they are the home team and have the choice of jersey. Atlanta has decided to go with their red jerseys as the identify more with that color and Quinn doesn’t want his team buying in or thinking about any type of superstitions. Brady is wearing white again, can he go 3-0 in that jersey?

Tickets & Parking

Super Bowl tickets have a get-in price just below $3,000, according to TicketIQ.com.  There are only 1,500 tickets available, which is much lower than the typical amount of quantity available at this stage.

NRG Stadium parking starts at $40 with several different options near the field.  There’s also cheaper Houston parking options available in the downtown area, and other neighborhoods in the city.

Prediction

Patriots – 31

Falcons – 28

  • In the end, I am going with the Patriots, as I have been all postseason long. There is a debate whether Brady could be the greatest quarterback of all time. Currently, I believe he is and winning this game will solidify it and there can not be a debate anymore. The Falcons have been a nice story and if they do win, good for the city of Atlanta and Matt “Ice” Ryan finally getting over the hump. Ryan could begin a case for the hall of fame if he were to win and continue his success for another five years. But, the Patriots are just too good. The greatest quarterback of all time and arguably the greatest coach of all time are in this game, 4-2 lifetime and by the time the clock hits all zeros, the thumbs of Brady and Belichick will be occupied with some new bling.

Parting Shots

I think we are in for a classic. I mean, lets hope. The No. 1 offense vs. the No. 1 defense. Another dynasty on the line and the hopefulness of a starved franchise. There is just so much to like about this game so sit back and relax…and do enjoy.

 

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Nick is an NFL Analyst at DoubleGSports.com as well as the Philadelphia Soul Beat Writer.
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