TV Schedule: Sunday, February 5, 6:30 p.m. ET, FOX
Stadium: NRG Stadium (Houston, TX)
In exactly one week from now, fans will get to witness two high-scoring teams going at it in Super Bowl 51 when the New England Patriots and Atlanta Falcons take the field against one another.
If both offenses come ready to play, and the defenses take a back seat, fans could be in store for some serious fireworks. The Falcons led the league with 33.8 points per game this season. The Patriots were third in the league in that department with 27.6 points per contest.
Of course, it’s also interesting to note that the Pats only allowed 15.6 points per game, which was the best mark in the sport, while the Falcons gave up 25.4 points per contest (ranked No. 27 in the NFL).
With that in mind, all stats, especially from the regular season, tend to go out the window at this stage of the game.
Atlanta’s Super Bowl journey has consisted of two games. One against the Seattle Seahawks and the other against the Green Bay Packers. New England’s journey has had games against the Houston Texans and Pittsburgh Steelers. Not only have both squads taken down some serious Super Bowl contenders (the Packers were riding an eight-game winning streak before losing to Atlanta, while the Steelers were riding a nine-game winning streak before going down to New England, after all), but they have also captured their victories in convincing fashion.
For the Falcons, look no further than a 16-point victory against Seattle and a 23-point victory against Green Bay to figure that one out. As for the Patriots, they captured an 18-point victory against Houston and a 19-point victory against Pittsburgh.
Just to spice things up a bit, Tom Brady and Matt Ryan are in the NFL MVP race. If fans are wondering why — although they shouldn’t be — let’s let Brady’s and Ryan’s stats do the talking.
Ryan has racked up 4,944 passing yards, 38 passing touchdowns, and just seven interceptions on the season. Brady only played in 12 out of 16 contests in 2016, but he still managed to record 3,554 passing yards, 28 passing touchdowns, and just two interceptions.
While there will be talent all over the football field when these teams meet up (this is the Super Bowl, after all), all eyes will surely be on Brady and Ryan — and for good reason.
Unlike virtually every other game this postseason, this battle will not consist of a rematch from earlier in the season. With that said, Brady has been rather impressive — and flawless, in a sense — against Atlanta over the years.
Tom Brady has ALWAYS had the Falcons number. pic.twitter.com/VDKzh5KD7e
— CBS Sports (@CBSSports) January 24, 2017
As many people likely already know, this is not Brady’s first Super Bowl rodeo.
Brady: most Super Bowl appearances all-time (player)
Belichick: most Super Bowl appearances all-time (head coach) pic.twitter.com/Ad1SvYB50T
— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) January 23, 2017
This will, however, be Ryan’s first Super Bowl appearance.
Everything aside, if Ryan continues to play on an otherworldly level, then the Falcons could do the unthinkable by knocking off the Patriots in Super Bowl 51. Just in case fans were wondering, Ryan has racked up seven touchdown passes, one rushing touchdown, zero interceptions, and 730 passing yards in the 2017 NFL Playoffs. He has been unstoppable.
It certainly doesn’t hurt when Ryan has players like Julio Jones, a man who racked up 1,409 receiving yards in 2016, to throw to. Jones is coming off of a 180-yard performance against the Packers. He also had two touchdowns in that clash.
Given the simple fact that the Patriots have been here so many times before, they certainly have the edge. However, it’s all about execution and making the big plays at this stage of the game. In terms of who that will be, well, it remains a mystery.
No matter what happens, fireworks will hopefully be the name of the game. Who knows, maybe fans will even get to witness an overtime in the Super Bowl.
PREDICTION: Patriots 34, Falcons 28
[Featured Image by Elsa/Getty Images]