Super Bowl LI: Predictions

Graphic by Isabella Xie

By Andrew Pratt
Sports Columnist

Prediction: Patriots 31 – Falcons 21

Tom Brady was thought of as a young, weak man out of Michigan who lacked to skill and speed to be a successful quarterback in the NFL. However, The New England Patriots saw what other teams couldn’t. He is undoubtedly the most clutch quarterback of all time, tied for first place with Joe Montana with 4 super bowl rings. If he adds a 5th ring to his resume, he will extend his legacy as the “Greatest Quarterback Of All Time”.

Brady has earned the respect of every Patriots fan and the hatred from about everyone else, due to his ability to show up every single week and play with the poise and skill of a great quarterback.

He shows up every day to practice and is one of “The most competitive guys”, a compliment that is rarely heard from Coach Belichick. The Patriots are a ‘Dynasty’ that contain the greatest head coach, an excellent defensive coordinator, the best system that can adapt to almost any player, and the soon to be GOAT. Although Tom is the team leader, in reality, he owes his fame and skill to coach Bill Belichick, an undisputable truth.

With two weeks to prepare for the Atlanta Falcons, one of the hottest offenses in the league, averaging over 38 points per game, Belichick will surely have a plan drawn up to stop the talented offense at the helm of Matt Ryan, my pick for MVP.

Every super bowl that the Brady and Belichick tandem have appeared, the Patriots have had a plan to take away the offenses strongest option. The Patriots have historically taken away the big play, forcing the other team’s offense into lengthy drives resulting in field goals or turnovers.

With the highest scoring defense in the league, this has been a strength this season. The key for the Patriots defense this week is to take away the Falcons big-play offensive weapons: Julio Jones, Mohamed Sanu, and Taylor Gabriel. Taking out Jones, arguably the best wideout in the league, would be costly to the secondary because it would give other fast receivers like Gabriel the ability to get deep down the field, in man coverage. As a result, the Patriots need to contain Coleman and Freeman from making big plays out of the backfield and limit the Falcons deep threat.

The inability for Ryan to quickly rush down the field will likely cause tension and stress on the Falcons offensive line. By forcing the Falcons into long drives, the Patriots secondary will have more opportunities to make the big plays that they need.

Although the Falcons have impressive point per game stats, their red zone offense is not that good. Most of their points come from longer plays outside the red zone or field goals when they are stopped. Also, the Falcons division is probably the worst in the NFL. They play 6 games that they should easily win against New Orleans, Carolina, and Tampa Bay. Each year, there is often one team that comes out hot into the playoffs, but their inexperienced nature combined with playing better teams often leads them to unfavorable losses. Look at the Carolina Panthers last year, followed by their production this season.

Atlanta surely has the potential to win against the Patriots. Their explosive offense may have the chance to get going, but only if Ryan is at the top of his game along with the rest of his offense. The nature of this game for the Falcons relies on their defense and whether or not they will crack under a composed quarterback like Brady that runs long drives to wear down the defense. In the NFC South, New Orleans, Carolina, and Tampa Bay all have high power offenses that move the ball quickly allowing Ryan to spend a lot of time with the ball and engaged in the game. With the help of LeGarrette Blount, Martellus Bennett, and Julian Edelman, Brady will look to lengthen drives and keep the ball out of Ryan’s hands.

The Falcons defense is nowhere near as good as their offense nor as deep as the Patriots defense. If the Patriots defense can limit the Falcons to under 30 points, then Tom Brady and the Patriots should be able to roll over the Falcons weaker secondary in long drives that keeps Matt Ryan on the bench.

Even if the Patriots get down early to the high power offense that the Falcons have, Brady has the ‘clutchness’ to outlast the Falcons offense. The Falcons are young, inexperienced and most of, not used to being down or in tight games. Belichick will be able to exploit this young team and get the much-needed breaks that the Patriots defense needs.

In history, head coaches have tried to continue “do what [they] do best” against the Patriots as Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said. However, this rarely works against a system team like the New England Patriots. Coming off of two weeks to prepare for the Falcons, more unheard-of-before-New England players will etch their name into NFL history.
For example, who knew about Chris Hogan, Danny Amendola, or Julian Edelman prior to entering the Patriots system. When placed in an excellent system, Tom Brady has the potential to make just about any receiver that was failing on another team look good. Or prior to the Patriots last Super Bowl win, who was Malcolm Butler before his game-winning interception against the Seahawks in Super Bowl XLIX?

If the Patriots get the likely win, Brady will likely be named the MVP of the game and Ryan of the league. The only the real question left is when will the Lombardi trophy be changed to the ‘Belichick Trophy’?