When the New England Patriots get together with the Atlanta Falcons on Super Bowl Sunday, the big question may be whether the Patriots can stop, or at least slow down, Matt Ryan and the vaunted Atlanta offense. Maybe the term “slow down” is really the operative one to use, because the Falcons have done a great job in keeping their opponents back on their heels by using the no-huddle approach. The game takes place in NRG Stadium in Houston, kicking off at 6:30 PM ET.
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Patriots vs Falcons – Super Bowl 51 Odds:
In the Super Bowl 51 betting odds posted on this game by the folks at VietBet, New England is the favorite:
New England Patriots -3
Atlanta Falcons +3
Over 58.5 points -110
Under 58.5 points -110
Pats to Win -155
Falcons to Win +135
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Super Bowl 51 – CJ’s Take:
Ryan was good enough this season that he threw for 9.3 yards per attempt, which was the best figure in the history of the NFL over the course of the season. He also had a career-high in passing yards, and was picked off only seven times. These are great numbers, and maybe the best of all is that Atlanta not only averaged 33.8 points per game during the regular season, the eighth best average in NFL annals, but they also improved upon that in the playoffs, with 80 points against Seattle and Green Bay.
Another thing is very impressive about what Atlanta did is that Ryan was able to throw touchdown passes to 13 different receivers, and that obviously includes his main target, Julio Jones, who caught 76 passes and will be the major big-play weapon the Patriots have to worry about on Sunday. Jones had 1313 yards, and he is a threat to go all the way on almost any play.
Anyone who is familiar with New England coach Bill Belichick knows that part of his philosophy is to take the best thing the opposing offense does and shut it down, making his foe beat him by employing less than its best. And so one could expect that the Pats will try to put the shackles on Jones, most likely using either Eric Rowe or Malcolm Butler, with help from a safety. The problem with that strategy, and something New England is going to have to deal with, is that Atlanta can still get a lot of big plays out of other receivers. Mohammed Sanu is dangerous, and Tyler Gabriel is probably even more of a big-play weapon for Ryan to throw to, averaging over 16 yards a catch. This really makes New England’s task more difficult, particularly because they don’t really get a dominating pass rush going.
VietBet patrons might expect, however, that the Patriots can do more than a credible job against Atlanta running game, even though the Falcons have a pair of backs – Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman – who are outstanding. But does it really matter, when Ryan throws the ball so many more times that he has run it?
New England had a good enough defense this season to leave the NFL in points allowed. Only one of the last nine opponents the Patriots have faced has had more than 17 points. But truth be told, only one of those opponents, the Pittsburgh Steelers in the AFC championship game, could be considered even remotely close to dangerous on the offensive end. And the Steelers lost Le’Veon Bell, their superstar running back, early on in the proceedings. Ben Roethlisberger essentially lodged a complaint after the game that his young receivers, who were often open but dropped passes, were not exactly ready for the enormity of the moment. So even though the Patriots allowed only 30 touchdowns from scrimmage, compared to 53 for Atlanta, the jury might still be out as to whether they can really deal with a high-powered unit like the Falcons.
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