Super Bowl LI To Falcons: Welcome Back


Feb 2017

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On Facebook, there’s a page with photos of every one of the glittering diamond rings of the Super Bowl winners since the championship began. See them Here

You will not find a single ring there engraved with the Atlanta Falcons’ name. They’ve never won a Super Bowl, and have played only one in all its history. It was 18 years ago. The New England Patriots, on the other hand, are one of the most-playing teams when it comes to the Super Bowl, rising to the championship level 8 times. They’ve won 4 of them — four glittering rings.

If there was ever a team you could call the underdog, the Falcons may be it if only because of the long road they’ve traveled to get to this field they’re about to share with the Patriots. But why is the projected point spread so small, you might wonder? They’re a dog by only 3 points. It may be because the Falcons’ skill set seems strong enough, defensively, to restrain the Patriots from getting much score distance from their opponent.

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Atlanta’s depth at offense is what’s exciting other fans. John Follett of BloggingDirty points out that if the Patriots manage to work out how to get around wide receiver Julio Jones, they still run smack into Mohamed Sanu, which could be a big weakness. Defensive depth on the Patriots side is lacking, he hints.

So — some are asking — Are the Falcons actually an underdog? Are the sports book odds representing reality?

Hard to say. Some sports analysts look at the Patriots’ recent games, and note that they played 8 regular-season games after Week 9 but not a single one of their opponents had a top-5 offense. Possibly the strongest was Seattle (Week 10). So maybe they’ve had a “lack of quality competition.” They did beat the Steelers, a formidable task.

Both teams’ top quarterbacks are known to be excellent playmakers. It was a startling note that a couple of days ago, Falcons offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan temporarily lost an all-important notebook — supposedly the one holding their Super Bowl game plan — when a reporter grabbed it by mistake.

How should they play against New England? Falcons Radio Analyst Dave Parker, a voice for the Falcons, had some clear advice. He is a former Chargers QB himself. He indicated it was all about Tom Brady and how to weaken him. His tips: 1. “Break up the protection,” he said. Have the defense work hard on the men surrounding Brady. 1. “Disrupt the timing,” he said. Disrupting the receivers would force Brady to hold the ball and be vulnerable to losing it. 3. “Muddy the waters,” he finished. Bring in multiple attacks on the QB. “Brady,” Parker claimed, “is not a guy who moves well.”

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This is one great matchup. Take all we’ve just heard about the Falcons, there is yet no getting past the Patriots’ demonstrated skill and winningness in their stats. Tom Brady’s past includes throwing a record 50 TD passes in 2007 — not broken until 6 years later by Peyton Manning — and led his team to a perfect season, something undone previously. His passes reached the numbers shared by Drew Brees, and passing Dan Marino’s.

Nearly two decades of superb play have been the Patriots’ recent history; they’ve won 12 division titles in 13 years, four out of 8 Super Bowls, the first NFL perfect regular season and more.

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