Tom Brady and the New England Patriots go looking for their fifth Lombardi Trophy Sunday in Super Bowl 51
On the one hand, matchups for Super Bowl 51 between the New England Patriots and Atlanta Falcons can be broken down under a microscope, looking for the thinnest edge that could end up being the difference maker on Sunday. Or on simpler terms, some may argue that the ‘due factor’ for Matt Ryan will outweigh Tom Brady’s experience, not to mention his insatiable appetite for revenge against Roger Goodell on the world’s biggest stage.
Whatever your preference, it’s probably not the worst idea to also avoid ladders, stay clear of black cats and take every opportunity at 11:11 on your smart phone during the next few days to wish for good luck. Anything that helps gain an advantage in what is setting up like another epic battle to determine this year’s champ.
New England won 14 games during the regular season, improving on last year’s 12-win tally and shattering their projected win total of 10.5 that had clearly over compensated for Brady’s suspension. It’s three wins better than Atlanta’s 11-5 SU record but ask the Carolina Panthers last year how far an almost perfect record gets you come February. The last team to even win straight-up in this spot was the Steelers in 2008, and the ATS losing streak for Super Bowl teams with a better record now sits at 11-straight.
Atlanta head coach Dan Quinn runs a tight ship, his team ranking fifth overall this year in net penalty yards, but the Pats were not far behind (8th). Quinn’s defense is perhaps the biggest question mark in this game. They have held Seattle and Green Bay to 20 and 21 points the past two games but that was with home field, more rest and a blatant health advantage. By the time Green Bay flew out of HJ International they probably needed a special plane to accommodate a half-dozen gurneys.
New England is in considerably better shape than anyone Atlanta faced down the stretch and the Hood knows a thing or two about gameplanning. Check out these numbers:
Bill Belichick is 38-13 SU with extra prep (includes Week 1), 25-9 SU with a bye and 13-3 SU with additional time in the postseason. Against the spread, his overall post-bye numbers are pedestrian but if we focus on the past five years, he is 6-0 SU and 5-1 ATS in the playoffs. All six games went over and the Pats outscored their opponents 35-24 on average.
PATS, PRESENT & FUTURE
The Patriots have won 10-straight games indoors (8-2 ATS), they are running up nearly 400 yards per game the past few and Brady’s all-time road record on turf is 45-12 SU, 37-19 ATS (66%). He’s also running an 11-game SU/ATS win streak off a home game where he passed for three or more touchdowns and the Pats usually thrive against teams with a potent offense such as the Falcons. New England leads the league in total-yards margin at +61.8. Small playoff faves with these kind of numbers off back-to-back games gaining more than 375 yards are 8-1-1 ATS.
Atlanta has a phenomenal offense that can press the gas for 60 minutes against anyone and I like this game to finish in the 60’s but for a side, I have to go with the experience. My record for the season in this section sits at 13-10 overall, going 6-4 with sides and 7-6 with totals. For Super Bowl 51, let’s try and finish on a high note.