Key Factors: The Falcons have a plethora of weapons on the offensive side of the ball, making the Patriots’ defensive job a difficult one, to say the least. While they will have to worry about stopping the two-headed monster of Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman out of the backfield, with their ability to run and catch the ball, their foremost priority should be stopping Julio Jones. Jones showed last week that he can take over a game. He finished the day with 9 receptions for 180 yards and 2 touchdowns. That is a great line any given Sunday, but even more impressive that he did it in the NFC Championship game, and mostly early on in the game, due to the blowout score. If Jones gets rolling again in the Super Bowl, the Patriots might fall short of the Lombardi Trophy. So it comes down to Malcolm Butler and the rest of this veteran secondary. While Bill Belichick probably has some tricks up his sleeve, Butler will probably get his fair share of duties on Jones, with Eric Rowe also testing the water. The Falcons have other weapons in the passing game too, but if Jones has a field day, it may not matter what the other threats do, as the game might already be over. On the other hand, the Falcons must get to Tom Brady. Vic Beasley has been an emerging, pass rushing superstar for this Falcons’ defense. Otherwise, their pass rush is a balanced attack, ranking just 16th in the regular season in total sacks, with 34. However, if they fail to get to Brady today, he will be able to pick apart this secondary with patience and precision. It must be done with intricate schemes and smart reads, because Brady will be one of the best they have seen all year. The keys for both teams begin on defense, as if you cannot stop your opponent’s offense in this Super Bowl, it may be a long night.
Prediction: This game should be an exciting contest, at the minimum, with two good and hot football teams matching up. The Patriots are an extremely well-balanced team, boasting a strong defense and a strong running game and passing game. The Falcons have a thrilling offense with many weapons, and showed that their defense has progressed throughout the season, and can now slow down a hot quarterback. I believe Brady will have an easier time than Rodgers did, as his quick throws and smart decisions should mostly eliminate the presence of Vic Beasley and the Falcons’ other linebackers. However, the Falcons’ defense will bend, but not break, keeping them in the game, until late in the fourth quarter. The Falcons’ offense will be slowed by the Patriots’ defense for the first time in a while, as Belichick will again prove that he is a mastermind at creating game plans to shut down the other team’s strength. Dan Quinn has had an extremely successful season for being in just his second year, but his youthfulness will show against the experienced Belichick. In a close battle, the Patriots will pull away in the fourth quarter with a Tom Brady game sealing touchdown pass, to bring home his record fifth Super Bowl ring. Patriots 30, Falcons 21
MVP: This is a prediction that can be overthought pretty easily. I went through the options- Dion Lewis, Julian Edelman, Chris Hogan (could he go off in back to back weeks?), Malcolm Butler- but then I realize that with the game on the line, one guy will step up and make a play. He is already a three time Super Bowl MVP award winner. He is the favorite in Las Vegas to win the award this year. He might be the best quarterback to ever play the sport of football. Tom Brady will walk away from the 51st Super Bowl with another new car, like he needs a new shiny set of wheels. Brady’s stats might not jump off the page in this game, as he has been very good this year, but not great. However, when it matters is when Brady puts his game on another level. Expect that to happen throughout the entire Super Bowl, but most notably in the fourth quarter in this contest. So while Belichick loves to make the unusual hero out of a program player, Brady will again step up to lead his team to victory.