Super Bowl 51 is finally here! In just a matter of hours the 2017 Super Bowl will take place as the New England Patriots take on the Atlanta Falcons to determine this year’s NFL champion. Shortly after 6 p.m. ET all of the hard hitting action will get underway!
For the New England Patriots, today’s game is all about dynasty, future legends and putting an exclamation point on an incredible 15-year run. The Patriots have made seven trips to the big game since 2001 and if they are victorious today they will be 5-2 in Super Bowl play over that time.
For the Atlanta Falcons, it’s proving that they are the new team to beat in the NFC and their high-flying offense led by quarterback Matt Ryan and wide out Julio Jones can compete with anybody in this league.
While the AFC has been mostly dominated by the Patriots, Denver Broncos and Pittsburgh Steelers since the year 2000, the NFC has sent a different team each year. If fact, outside of the Seattle Seahawks, the NFC has not had a back-to-back representative in the Super Bowl since the 1997-98 Green Bay Packers.
The Falcons are here for only the second time in team history, but they certainly have the talent to be back in the Super Bowl for years to come. Right now, making an appearance to the big game next year is the last thing on the Falcons minds, they are focused on one thing and one thing only – beating the Patriots Sunday night and claiming their first championship in team history.
The only other time Atlanta made it to the NFL Championship they were handily defeated 34-19 by John Elway and the Denver Broncos back in Super Bowl 33.
While that Super Bowl was nearly 20 years ago, CBS Sports indicates that this year the Falcons enter the 2017 title game with the NFL’s highest-scoring offense at 33.8 points per game.
Yes, the offense is clicking on all cylinders in Atlanta and offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan is reaping the benefits. Shanahan was named assistant coach of the year and his quarterback Matt Ryan was tagged as offensive player of the year, however, will the strong rumors of Shanahan leaving for San Francisco next season be a distraction in today’s big game?
Atlanta fans hope not.
Right now Shanahan knows he will have his hands full going up against the best defense in the NFL in New England and trying to move the ball on them is priority number one. Facing a team as experienced as the Pats will surely test Atlanta’s run and gun offense, and Shanahan knows that Bill Belichick is one tough man to fool on the football field.
“I don’t think there’s much Bill and his staff hasn’t seen before,” Shanahan said. “They’ve seen a lot of football and they do it as good as anyone. The main thing is giving your players confidence going into the game knowing that when we do see what they’re doing, you give our players the ability to adjust for us to go in a number of difference directions. They’re as good as it gets, so we know it’ll be a huge challenge, something that we’re working at just like they are. When the game starts, it’s going to come down to trying to put our guys in good position and enjoy watching them go.”
If Super Bowl 51 lives up to the hype, it should be a great game.
Las Vegas odds makers opened this game favoring the Patriots at -3, and that is where the number still is now. While most sports books haven’t moved the number, they have upped the juice on the game to -120, up from the normal -110. New England -3 (-120), means bettors would need to risk $125 to win $100 on the Patriots, instead of the usual $110.
If you are one of the estimated 100 million fans planning on watching Super Bowl 51, here is the best way to keep up with the action.
The game is scheduled for a 6:25 p.m. ET kickoff and will be aired nationally on FOX. Super Bowl 51 will also steam live online through the FOX Sports Go website and NFL Mobile. If you are on the go you can watch every play on your tablet, cell phone other devices by downloading the FOX Sports Go app.
[Featured Image by Tim Warner/Getty Images]