Super Bowl LI Preview

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It’s the sport’s biggest night and one of the biggest single-day sporting events in the world is ready to take over Houston.

The Super Bowl is a spectacle that not many other sports or events can touch as it is one day that dominates the sports world.

Every Super Bowl Sunday the game shuts everything else down as there is nothing but the Super Bowl.

It wasn’t always that way as the biggest game in football used to be forgettable as the game was just another game on the calendar.

After 50 years the game has become something bigger than the NFL and once again it will be the centre of the sports world.

This year the road to the Super Bowl didn’t inspire anyone as the games were lacklustre at best.

Almost every team that entered the playoffs this year seemed unprepared to make a run whether it be because of injuries or a lack of talent.

It may go down as one of the worst playoffs in the history of the league as there were very few good games that came down to the wire.

Aside from the Packers against the Cowboys, there weren’t many other games that really inspired some kind of excitement.

Most thought that would change in the championship games as top teams were finally meeting playing their best football of the season.

Once again nothing came out of those games as both turned out to be blowouts where the team that everyone expected to win did just that.

The entire playoffs have been a set of big stories with no payoff and the NFL is hoping that it can all change in the biggest game of them all.

It certainly has the potential to be a good game but so did plenty of other games this year and so far they have fallen short.

Super Bowl LI is a match-up that would seemingly happen a lot more than it actually has as the top scoring offence takes on the top defence in terms of points allowed.

The Atlanta Falcons were the silent killers this entire season as they lacked the coverage that most of the best teams get.

Yet they still walked through most of their season thanks to the arm of Matt Ryan and the variety of attacks that they possess.

With two great running backs and a receiver like Julio Jones, there are a lot of options for the Falcons.

It has been a big challenge for every defence that has faced them this year but it is a challenge that the New England Patriots are sure to get excited about.

Although Brady has been great since he came back from his suspension there is little doubt that the defence has carried this team to the top of the league.football-sidebar

The Patriots have the top defence in points allowed as they have not let anyone run over them no matter how good the offence.

In the Super Bowl, they will attempt to show that defence does win championships and they will look to shut down an unstoppable offence.

A Super Bowl between the top offence and the top defence seems to be a logical conclusion to every season but it has only happened 5 times in the 51-year history of the Super Bowl.

Only one of those times saw the top offence win the game as the San Francisco 49ers easily beat the Denver Broncos 55-10 in 1989.

Every other year that this match-up happened the team with the top defence in the league was able to take the win.

It is a solid foundation for why many believe that defence is the way to build a team if you want to win a championship.

More often than not that is the way that teams can win as a strong defence as offences are rarely the reason for teams winning.

That theory will get a true test this time around as the Patriots try to prove that defence does win titles while the Falcons hope to buck the trend.

The winner of that battle will be the one that gets to raise the Lombardi Trophy at the end of the night and be crowned the best team in the NFL.

The bigger question for the league though is whether or not these teams can put up an interesting show.

The league needs something to save these playoffs and a game that could match the excitement that the Super Bowl produces might just do that.

It is up to them to pull it off though as both teams need to step up and have their best games of their seasons in order to be crowned champions.

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The 2017 season was crowned with an early nickname for the Patriots as the entire season was going to be the Tom Brady revenge tour. That came after the NFL’s suspension of Brady for Deflategate was reinstated before the season began. It marked the end of a long fight with the league that claimed that Brady had a hand in deflating footballs before a playoff game. Although there was a lack of evidence and a lack of cooperation from Brady who destroyed his phone before the NFL could investigate. The suspension was originally overturned but re-instated for 2016 meaning that the Patriots were set to start the first four games without their best player. It turned out not to be the end of the world for the Pats who went 3-1 in their first four games and welcomed back Brady who seemed motivated to run through the league. The Pats then went on to lose only one more game all year while Brady put up what many believe to be an MVP season. From that moment they walked through the playoffs as no team even challenged them through their two playoff games. Now they face the Falcons in the biggest test of their season but like every year they seem more prepared than anyone. The Falcons are the best offence they have faced but the Pats have a great defence that perfectly reflects this team. Since Bill Belichick took over the Patriots have been a team that concentrates on a system and not stars. The defence is exactly that as there are no stand-out stars that have made the headlines throughout the season. Yet still, they are the best point preventing defence in the league thanks to their system and the talent they assembled. There are some highlights on the team though as Dont’a Hightower, Malcolm Butler and Logan Ryan but none are going to make the difference by themselves. They do it as a team and a unit as they are a group that does bend but certainly has not broken too often. On offence, the same strategy exists with one major exception to the usual Patriots way. Brady is bigger than the team and is likely the best quarterback playing right now and he helps this team in a big way. His best attribute is running the system like a well-oiled machine where no matter who steps in the offence won’t miss a beat. Without his safety blanket in Rob Gronkowski, Brady has used as many receivers and depending on the week his favourite changes. With LeGarrette Blount in the backfield, the Pats have some balance to the offence as well. It makes them a difficult puzzle to solve as they have a top defence along with an offence that might not have the amount of superstars that the Falcons have but they still have Brady. If their defence can prove to stop an attack as potent as the Falcons they will have no problem putting up the points they need. Where they might get into some trouble is if they have to keep up with the Falcons as a shootout will be a close game but might not turn out well for the Pats and the revenge tour.

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The Patriots had a revenge tour to take on while the Falcons had a bigger team battle to fight when they began their season. For the last few years, the Falcons have been a team whose window has been closing. The talent has been there but every year they seemed to be on their way to the top of the league they fell in the playoffs. It seemed like they may never get there and at a certain point, the talent on this team was either going to walk away from the game or move on to another team. Every year further was closer to the Falcons seeing their time come up to win a title and it seemed like they were written off before the 2017 season began. Nobody talked about them before the season aside from mentioning Julio Jones among the best players in the game. They took 11 wins on the season and took the NFC South title and heading into the playoffs they still couldn’t get much respect. That was until the Divisional round when they dismantled the Seattle Seahawks putting up 36 points in an easy win. All of a sudden everyone realised just how potent this attack was and they quickly became favourites to win the NFC. After another impressive performance against Green Bay, they find themselves in the Super Bowl for only the second time in franchise history and they have a tough test ahead of them. There is no question what this team has been built on as their offence was the best in the league this year. A lot has to do with the performance of Matt Ryan throughout the year but it also has a lot to do with the weapons he has. His main target, Jones is one of the best receivers in the game and Mohamed Sanu provides a great secondary target. In the backfield, Tevin Coleman and Devonta Freeman provide the best running tandem in the league with both playing a role in the passing game as well. The Falcons have talent and options which is what makes them so hard to stop because it is a very tough task to shut down all of the aspects of their game. The Atlanta defence will have a tough task in solving Brady and Belichick’s system. The defence from Atlanta has not been the best but it certainly isn’t terrible as they have proven that they can stop great players and offences. What they have proven to be more successful at this playoffs than in the season is getting to the quarterback as Jonathan Babineaux, Brooks Reed and much more have been able to rack up 5 sacks in two games. That could be key as it is known that the only way to stop Brady is to get in his face as his improvisational skills are somewhat lacking. Getting to him is a tough task though and if they let him get comfortable this game could turn out to be a shootout, which still might not be bad for the top offence in the league. If the Pats find a way to shut down the offence and leave the Falcons defence to get the win it might not turn out well for Atlanta.

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