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Super Bowl LI Preview

by Nahom Nega, Staff Writer

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It’s unbelievable how fast the 2016-17 season has gone by. It seems like just yesterday I was laughing hysterically about the Patriots being shut out by the Bills in week 4.

Oh wait, it was. Time does fly.

Anyways, the 2016-17 NFL season has one more game before it’s officially put into the history books.

Although it is pretty sad that there is one more game in the season, it’s also very exciting because the game could potentially end up being the best game of this somewhat boring season.

The Atlanta Falcons will meet the New England Patriots in Houston for the 51st Super Bowl. This game will feature some of the top 5 players in almost every position, offense and defense. This game will also feature the #1 ranked defense and the #1 ranked offense. This will be the 6th time this has happened in the Super Bowl. Currently the defense holds a 4-1 record in those games, but after Feb. 5, the record will read 4-2.

Yup, I am picking the Falcons to win this game.

The Falcons offense this season has been completely unstoppable. The Falcons have scored 63 touchdowns in the regular season, 5th most all time and the most since the Indianapolis Colts scored 66 in 2004.

Offensive Coordinator Kyle Shanahan has done a tremendous job getting everyone on the offense involved and in-sync. He has been able to use all his players effectively and efficiently. His QB Matt Ryan threw a touchdown to 13 different receivers this season, an NFL record.

One of those players happens to be third year receiver Taylor Gabriel, who caught six TD passes which is the same amount that Julio Jones. Prior to this year, Taylor Gabriel spent two seasons with the Cleveland Browns and had only one TD reception, forcing the Browns to let him go. Gabriel will definitely be a threat to the Patriots defense and a key player for the Falcons on offense.

Two other key players on offense are running back Devonta Freeman and backup Tevin Coleman, both of whom had pretty great seasons not only running the ball but on the receiving end as well. These two running backs combined for 28 total touchdowns on the season, 21 rushing and 7 receiving. Because the Patriots are going to have a hard time trying to contain Julio Jones, Taylor Gabriel and Mohamed Sanu, one of these backs will take advantage and exploit the Patriots Defense.

Julio Jones will not be as productive as he has been in the past because of the Patriots defensive mindset. Matt Patricia has had two weeks to prepare for this game and we can all expect him to find ways to slow him down.

Defensive Coordinator Matt Patricia and the Patriots defense have always tried to take the best opposing player out of the game and somehow they have ,for the most part, been successful. According to Pro Football Focus(PFF), the Patriots have the 4th best secondary. After the departure of Darrelle Revis most people thought that the Patriots secondary wouldn’t be the same, but it has stayed pretty consistent. Cornerbacks Logan Ryan and Malcolm Butler both had great seasons. Malcolm Butler has 17 defended pases and twice as many interceptions as he had last season. According to PFF he is the 2nd ranked CB in the league this season with an 86.4 rating. While we shouldn’t expect to see man coverage against Julio Jones, the Patriots could opt to let Butler go one-on-one in what would be an interesting matchup.

Then last but not least there is MVP candidate quarterback Matt Ryan. Matty Ice has been incredible this season, putting up 4,944 yards passing, 38 TD’s to only 7 INT’s, and an overall rating of 117.1. Makes you wonder if he does indeed have ice in his veins?

It’s hard to say whether or not he’ll have the type of game he had vs. both the Seahawks and the Packers, especially because he’ll be throwing against the best defense in the league, but we can expect him to play great.

On Sunday, either one quarterback will solidify his already stellar legacy or the other will show he is legit.

Whether you’re a rooting for the Patriots or the Falcons, you should expect a great and close game.

Game Prediction: Falcons 27-20 Patriots
Super Bowl MVP prediction: Matt Ryan(326 yards, 2 TD’s)

Super Bowl LI Atlanta Falcons vs. New England Patriots
Date: Feb. 5 2017 Time: 6:30 Where: NRG Stadium, Houston, Texas Channel: FOX

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Super Bowl LI Preview