SuperBowl 51 Preview

With the Super Bowl less than two weeks away, the stage has finally been set as the Atlanta Falcons and the New England Patriots prepare to make history. On one side, you have the seasoned veterans – Bill Belichick and Tom Brady. The dynamic duo has earned their spot in the Super Bowl an impressive seven times, winning four of them. But in order for Brady and Belichick to become the most decorated coach and quarterback in history, they must outshine Matt Ryan and the brotherhood. Coming in as the underdogs, the Falcons have only made one appearance in the big game back in 1998. Will the Falcons be able to “Rise Up” to the challenge, or is Brady destined for his fifth ring?

Despite a 4-3 start this season, the Falcons have since tailored their defense to complement their high-octane offense. Finishing the regular season with 11-5, the Falcons have been steamrolling their opponents, with their last win gaining them an NFC Championship title. But February 5th is a completely different beast in itself.

Being able to match the Patriot’s number one ranking defense, the Falcon’s offense must find their stride early in the game. Led by Matt Ryan, the offense has been able to adapt to each team they play, making them somewhat unpredictable. Given his remarkable season, Matt Ryan isn't just playing in the Super Bowl but is also up for the MVP trophy. But that's not all the Falcons have. Add Julio Jones, who is arguably one of the best wide receivers in the game, with the lethal running back combo of Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman, and the Falcons could finally break through and win their first Super Bowl.

On the other hand, this is nothing new for the Patriots. Appearing in their record 9th Super Bowl as an organization, the Patriots are more than comfortable with the pressure that comes with playing in front of millions of people. As a team, their defense is nothing short of a well-oiled machine that can tip the scales if the opportunity presents itself. On the offensive side of the ball, Tom Brady is more than a pretty face. He possesses the unique ability to turn any player on the offense into a weapon capable of reaching the end zone.

With Belichick at the helm, look for the Patriots to slow down the pace of the game in order to keep the Falcon’s offense off the field. A worn-out defense will expose the Falcons and give players like LeGarrette Blount, Chris Hogan, Julian Edelman, Dion Lewis, and Martellus Bennett a chance to move the ball methodically down the field and chew up time of possession. Given the experience and knowledge at New England’s disposal, it’s no surprise many favor them to become Super Bowl champions once again.

Can Brady get one for the thumb, or will the Falcons defy the odds and capture their first Super Bowl Championship? Be sure to share your predictions in the comment section below.

Article by Chris Piner