You know that if you look long enough, you can find sufficient reasons to like EITHER side in the Super Bowl – ANY Super Bowl. That’s what happens when you put the best of the best against each other. So we figured we’d just give you some reasons to like both. How diplomatic is THAT?
First, here are the numbers (subject to change) you’ll find at AMERICA’S BOOKIE:
New England Patriots -3 (-105)
Atlanta Falcons +3 (-115)
Over 58.5 points -110
Under 58.5 points -110
Five Good Reasons the Patriots Will Win
– They get off to fast starts. New England has scored more points per game in the first quarter than anybody. And they have also given up the fewest points in the first quarter. They are +6.4 points in the opening period, and that that means is that the Falcons may not be able to get into that mode where they get off to an early lead and then can tee off on the pass rush. The Pats will never be that far behind. By the way, they are -1/2 a point and +135 for the first quarter here.
– The Falcons are vulnerable up front, allowing 4.5 yards per rushing attempt. We admit that has improved itself in the playoffs, but this was not a “rock-ribbed” defensive front. New England has one of the all-time great quarterbacks in Tom Brady, but they are fully prepared to control the game on the ground with LeGarrette Blount (62.5 yards on the over/under) if you allow them to.
– The Patriots’ receivers had more yards after the catch than any other team in the NFL. That means you not only have to cover them until the reception, but after the reception as well. They can thrive on the short passing game, or one that stretches defenses
with the presence of Chris Hogan and Michael Floyd.
– New England’s defense made opposing offenses work harder to score than anyone. Yes, the Pats gave up fewer points than anyone. And that was because their opponents had to gain 20.8 yards per point, which was also the best figure in the league.
– Atlanta stands as the worst defense in the league when it comes to allowing teams to score touchdowns in the red zone – 72% of the time. Granted, some of this happens because they are often well ahead, but even if it was ten percentage points lower, they’d be 28th. This could be a killer against the Pats.
Five Good Reasons the Falcons Will Win
– If Bill Belichick goes to that fabled strategy of “taking away what the opponent does best,” he could get burned, because even if New England conspires to stop Julio Jones (priced at +120 to have under 6.5 catches), there is a consistent receiver (Mohammed Sanu) and a potential game-breaker (Tyler Gabriel) Matt Ryan can throw to. This is something the Patriots have not had to face a lot of all season.
– The numbers tell a story in and of themselves. The Falcons were the eighth-highest scoring offense in NFL history, averaging 33.8 points (by the way, their team total is 28.5 for this game). Ryan had the highest per-attempt average on record (9.3). And he threw touchdowns to 13 different receivers, also an NFL record. Now consider that the Patriots have played nothing but close games in Super Bowls (none decided by less than four points), and you can imagine that they are going to be incredibly challenged to trade points to a sufficient degree.
– As far as the analytics site Pro Football Focus is concerned, the Falcons had the best run-blocking offensive line in the league, meaning that Ryan, operating out of a no-huddle offense, likely can establish a running game with two outstanding backs – Devonta Freeman (over/under = 55.5 rush yards) and Tevin Coleman. And the balance won’t be a welcome sight for the Pats’ stop unit.
– Atlanta can get a pass rush on Brady. Not only do they have the league’s leading sack master in Vic Beasley (15.5 in the regular season), but they also have the veteran Dwight Freeney, who would like to go out with one huge big-game performance. And there are others who have registered impressive stats on “quarterback pressures” as well. They can hurry Brady.
– Falcons coach Dan Quinn has previously gone through a two-week period to prepare for this New England offensive system in the Super Bowl. That happened a couple of seasons ago when he was running the Seattle defense. And let’s not forget that if not for an ill-advised play call down near the goal line with time running out, the Seahawks would have dealt the Patriots a Super Bowl defeat.