Super Bowl 51 Preview:
Sunday 5:30 in Houston, TX: New England Patriots (14-2) vs Atlanta Falcons (11-5)
How they got here: Both teams are coming off of impressive performances in the league championship round, setting up an explosive matchup for Super Bowl LI. New England is led under center by three-time Super Bowl MVP Tom Brady, who has stretched his record to 13-1 on the year. Atlanta led the NFL in points per game this season averaging nearly 34 points per contest. 2016 NFL MVP Matt Ryan has led the Falcons offense to average 39 points per game over their current six game win streak.
Matchup to watch: Tom Brady (NE QB) vs Falcons Secondary (ATL DBs)
Much has been made about Tom Brady being the best quarterback in the postseason ever and it is well deserved. Despite his low interception numbers, Brady has been prone to fumbling the football during his career, ever since ‘the tuck’ game. In spite of his impressive regular season where Brady yielded only six turnovers over the twelve games he started, his career postseason statistics say otherwise. In 36 career postseason games, Brady has 39 turnovers (30 int, 9 fum). The 39-year-old quarterback is looking to add his fifth Super Bowl ring to suppress his legacy as the best ever. On the other side, the Falcons are starting four defensive backs with zero Super Bowl experience. Cornerbacks Robert Alford and Jalen Collins along with safeties Ricardo Allen and Keanu Neal all combine to give the Falcons secondary an average age of 24 years old. Though young, the group collectively forced nine turnovers throughout the regular season, as well as three in the postseason. If this group of Falcons can be ball hawks on Sunday and force one or two turnovers off of Brady, this matchup is worth noting.
Winner: No game in Super Bowl history has ever gone into overtime (thanks Adam Vinatieri) but this one might come down to the final possession again. The Super Bowl record for passing yards in a game is 414 set by Kurt Warner in Super Bowl XXXIV. That record will be shattered by either Tom Brady or Matt Ryan in Super Bowl LI. I’m picking the MVP and the dirty birds from Atlanta. Falcons 40-36.