The Patriots are favored to win Super Bowl LI in Las Vegas by a field goal, the oddsmakers expect a relatively high scoring affair with the point total set at 58. Only 27% of all Americans will be rooting for New England according to a recent poll.
How do Baltimore Beatdown’s contributors envision the final contest of the 2016 season unfolding?
Falcons 33, Patriots 26
Despite a historically great offense, the Falcons represent the underdog, and I believe they are still being underestimated as they have continually been until this point.
I believe the Patriots will struggle to contain them for an entire game, and this will be a back and forth battle which will be won by Atlanta on a few explosive plays. The Patriots will keep it close until midway through the 3rd quarter. Then the Falcons will pull away for good, led by their stellar RB tandem of Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman, who will be limited for the most part in the run game but decimate the Pats with their elusiveness in the passing game. - Yitzi Weiss
Patriots 30, Falcons 23
Matt Ryan and Julio Jones shredded Green Bay’s vulnerable defense in the NFCCG. Unfortunately for them, the Patriots defense is a different animal entirely. Between lockdown corner Malcolm Butler, safety Devin McCourty and Bill Belichick’s innovative gameplans, they do have the ability to quiet Julio. Expect the Patriots defense to sit back and make Atlanta to earn every yard through their secondary receivers and running back committee. The Patriots league best scoring defense will prevent the Falcons from cashing most of their red zone trips in for touchdowns.
On the other side of the ball, Tom Brady’s quick release and outstanding decision making should carve up Atlanta’s young defense. Vic Beasley will likely generate some pressure off the edge and the Falcons have a lot of speed in the middle of their defense, but unless DTs Grady Jarrett and Ra’Sheed Hagemon play out of their minds, they will not be able to rattle Brady. On paper, Atlanta has the more talented roster, however they are simply overmatched against New England’s exceptional (and sneaky) coaching staff. - Vasilis Lericos
Falcons 34, Patriots 31
The Patriots have been lauded for being able to take away a team's biggest offensive threat. However, against the Falcons, this isn't going to work. The Falcons just have too many options on the offensive side of the ball. If New England takes away Julio Jones, Atlanta still has Devonta Freeman, they still have Tevin Coleman, they still have Mohammed Sanu, and they still have the NFL's MVP under center in Matt Ryan.
The Falcons defense rattled Aaron Rodgers and a Packers team that I originally picked to win it all. If Atlanta could shut down the white-hot Aaron Rodgers, then why can't they do it again to Brady. The Brady-Edelman connection will work wonders against a Falcons team that lacks a slot corner. But in the end, Ryan will move into the upper echelon of quarterbacks as he takes down Tom Brady in a shootout. - Matt Cohen
Patriots 35, Falcons 10
I really don't think this game will be that close. Some are calling the Falcons a "Cinderalla story," but the clock always strikes midnight.
Bill Belichick is a mad scientist and he will find a way to stop the Falcons two dynamic running backs, and will take Julio Jones out of the game. The Matt Ryan that has struggled in big games during the previous eight years of his career will show himself again because of the Patriots defense and Belichick. That kind of tendency when it comes to not performing with the lights on brightest doesn't just escape you overnight. Ryan's run ends here. Brady and Belichick get ring #5 and Julian Edelman wins Super Bowl MVP as Edelmania runs wild in Houston. - Evan Mazza
Falcons 35, Patriots 31
Matt Ryan will be the Super Bowl MVP. All of my doubts about the Falcons have been answered in their previous two games. Matt Ryan wins the game for the Falcons with an Autin Hooper touchdown late in the fourth quarter. - Logan Levy