Super-Bowl 51 sees a very attractive match-up between the top offense in the league, the Falcons and the legendary combination of Brady and Belichek and the top ranked Patriots defense.
Since 2000, only one team that led the league in regular-season scoring went on to win the Super Bowl, the 2009 Saints. The Falcons scored 33.8 points per game this season, the 8th highest average of all time with a hugely prolific offense under Kyle Shanahan and with likely league MVP Matt Ryan at quarterback. Since 200 the No. 1 scoring defense in the NFL has won the Super-Bowl five times (most recently the 2013 Seahawks, with now Atlanta head coach Dan Quinn as defensive coordinator)
Patriots coach Bill Belichek traditionally (and successfully) game plans to take away an opponent’s top weapon on offense. Here that would be Julio Jones. The real top weapon for the Falcons’ offense though has been Ryan’s comfort and grasp of Kyle Shanahan’s offensive system. That’s allowed Ryan and the offense to have productive games even when Jones is limited or doesn’t play at all. Even as Jones had a monster day in the NFC Conference game against the Packers, seven other Falcons also had a reception. There are so many weapons that can be utilised on this offense that the loss or limitation of one doesn’t derail the whole system.
The Falcons’ defense meanwhile faces a tough task. The unit has improved substantially over the last two months, in that it won’t cost its offense chances to win or make games closer than they should be. That won’t be nearly enough against Brady, though. Unless it can be that kind of punishing, non-blitzing pass rush that has bothered Brady over the years including earlier in the playoffs by the Texans, and last year’s playoffs by the Broncos Brady will undoubtedly help his offense put up points.
He’ll find good mismatches in the middle of the field, and the Patriots can counteract the Falcons’ strengths with Dion Lewis and Julian Edelman. Brady should also get consistent support from LeGarrette Blount in the power running game to open up a few shots downfield to AFC title game hero Chris Hogan. The Patriots’ specific versatility within their scheme is difficult to slow down. The Falcons’ weaknesses in the red zone will be exploited by both run and pass.That leaves it to Ryan to match Brady drive for drive, against a top defense and a legendary game-planner. To my mind that is going to be difficult to do.
Odds for the game have the Patriots as three point favourites in a 58 point game. I like the Patriots to win and cover and you can currently get Evens -3 at both Ladbrokes and Paddy Power. I would be tempted to go under on total points, a high quote unsurprisingly and unders would be consistent with the Patriots containing the Falcons offense.
Look out for a write up of Super-Bowl Prop bets