Super Bowl LI prediction

Movie quote of the day:

“I take Quaaludes 10 to 15 times a day for my ‘back pain,’ Adderall to stay focused, Xanax to take the edge off, pot to mellow me out, cocaine to wake me back up again, and morphine, well…because it’s awesome.”

– Jordan Belfort, “The Wolf of Wall Street” (2013)

Week 17 record: 11-5 (68.7 percent)
2016 record: 156-98-2 (61.3 percent)
All-time record: 308-203-2 (60.2 percent)


Super Bowl LI
New England Patriots (14-2) vs. Atlanta Falcons (11-5)
NRG Stadium
Line: NE -3

I’ve felt that the Super-Bowl contenders this season were kind of “meh” – and it was proven in the playoffs since every game but one (Green Bay vs. Dallas) wasn’t entertaining. I just feel like I’ve seen better teams in the past than the ones that were considered the “top” teams this season. Anyway, that doesn’t mean I won’t watch this game because I’m very much looking forward to it. After watching the playoffs, I feel like New England and Atlanta were the best teams in the league at the end of the year and it should be a great game Sunday.

New England quarterback Tom Brady celebrates after winning the AFC Championship.
New England quarterback Tom Brady celebrates after winning the AFC Championship.

The Usual Suspects will be making their seventh Super Bowl appearance in the last 16 years – quite an accomplishment. Despite the fact the media is all over the Patriots and talking about how great they are, I think this is probably the worst Bill Belichick-coached New England team that has made it to a Super Bowl. New England has an average offensive line, lacks a dynamic pass rush, and its secondary is good but it’s far from elite. I’m not trying to sound like a hater, but I feel like it’s hard to tell just how good the Patriots really are because they were head and shoulders better than the rest of the AFC and pretty much coasted through the regular season and postseason – similar to Alabama and the rest of the SEC this past year. That being said, this is still a good squad. New England has a solid run game with LeGarrette Blount, and I feel like this is the best receiving corps that Tom Brady has had in a long time with Julian Edelman, Malcolm Mitchell, Martellus Bennett, and Chris Hogan – is it flashy, heck no, but it’s solid with a bunch of guys that fly under-the-radar. Defensively, the Patriots don’t have any household names, outside of Devin McCourty, but it’s a bunch of guys that trust each other and play well together – which is something every team would take in a heartbeat.

Atlanta quarterback Matt Ryan hugs offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan after winning the NFC Championship.
Atlanta quarterback Matt Ryan hugs offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan after winning the NFC Championship.

I think people and the media are forgetting that there’s another team playing in this Super Bowl other than New England. I feel like Atlanta has been the least covered Super-Bowl team in recent history – although, I thought the Denver Broncos last season were pretty close. I think one of the reasons the Falcons aren’t getting enough hype is because they only played two prime time games this year and both were awhile back – they played a Monday night game the last week of September and a Thursday night game the first week of November. The Falcons deserve more respect because this team is for real. Atlanta has an excellent offense led by Matt Ryan and he has great weapons around him – Julio Jones, Mohamed Sanu, Devonta Freeman, and Tevin Coleman – and he has a solid offensive line. While I think the Falcons’ defense is better than people think, it’s also the team’s biggest weakness. Atlanta’s secondary isn’t great and lacks quality cornerbacks, but Keanu Neal is a playmaker at strong safety. Also, outside of Vic Beasley, the Falcons have a below-average pass rush. However, I’d say Atlanta’s defensive line played its best game of the season in the NFC Championship against Green Bay – so, the unit should be riding high going into this game.

Lombardi Trophy


The over/under of this game currently sits at 59. I’m taking the under on that number all day. I don’t expect this Super Bowl to be that high-scoring. Both of these teams have defensive-minded coaching staffs and I think they’ll have their defenses prepared. Also, I think having the extra week off will affect the chemistry of both offenses, and both teams will be very run heavy to try to keep the opposing quarterback off the field. While New England boasts the No. 1 scoring defense in the NFL this season, it hasn’t faced an offense like Atlanta and hasn’t faced a quarterback playing as well as Matt Ryan has this season. Atlanta will move the ball against New England, but I do think the Patriots will hold the Falcons’ offense to field goals. This game will be decided in the turnover category. Whichever defense forces the other quarterback to make mistakes will lead to its team winning – since this is his seventh Super Bowl appearance, I have to give that edge to Tom Brady. Two things I’ll note before I give my prediction:

– This will be the sixth time the NFL’s No. 1 scoring offense has faced the No. 1 scoring defense in a Super Bowl – and the No. 1 scoring defense has won the last four games. The most recent coming in 2013 when Seattle (No. 1 scoring defense) beat Denver 43-8.

– A player hasn’t won league MVP and a Super Bowl in the same year since Kurt Warner did it in 1999. Matt Ryan is the favorite to be named league MVP tomorrow night.

I certainly think this Atlanta offense is good enough to break the trend of No. 1 scoring defenses knocking off No. 1 scoring offenses in Super Bowls. This is probably the most complete offense I’ve seen from a NFL team in quite some time. The Falcons are just as good running the ball as they are airing it out. I’ll be cheering for Atlanta to win Sunday night because I want to see a team win its first Super Bowl, but the two notes I made above are going against the Falcons. While I think New England’s No. 1 scoring defense is overhyped when you break it down, I can’t go against Bill Belichick and New England. Ever since Tom Brady came back from his four-game suspension, it has felt like the Patriots’ year and I think he manages to get his fifth ring and cement himself as the best quarterback of all time.

Prediction: Patriots 27, Falcons 24
MVP: Tom Brady

Thanks for reading

Shane Price
Follow me on Twitter – @priceisright53


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