This Sunday, America will gather around the TV to watch the New England Patriots and Atlanta Falcons battle for the Lombardi trophy in Super Bowl LI. Year in and year out, the Super Bowl is one of the biggest TV events of the year, so chances are, football fan or not, you will be watching the big game. Whether you’ll be watching for the commercials, the halftime show or the actual game, here are the things you need to know about Super Bowl LI.
- The Patriots versus Rodger Goodell: Possibly the biggest storyline going into the Super Bowl is the Patriots versus NFL Commissioner, Rodger Goodell. The quarrel began due to the infamous “Deflategate.” Deflategate began when evidence arose that the Patriots used footballs that were not up to NFL inflation standards in the 2015 AFC Championship game. The Patriots were stripped of draft picks and fined that year. But the question that remained was if Patriots Quarterback Tom Brady was involved in the deflation. Although he denied any involvement, according to NFL.com, an “independent investigator Ted Wells found that it was ‘more probable than not’ that Brady was ‘at least generally aware of the inappropriate activities.’” Therefore, Goodell and the NFL issued Brady a four game suspension for the next season. Then the NFLPA filed an appeal of Tom Brady’s suspension on his behalf. The appeal was ultimately successful, nullifying Brady’s suspension for the 2015-2016 season. The NFL took the case to an appeals court in which the previous decision to nullify Brady’s suspension was revoked. Leading to Brady being suspended the first four games of this season. This incident has left tons of bad blood between the Patriots and the NFL. So, many Brady and Patriots supporters look forward to the possibility of Goodell having to hand off the Lombardi trophy to Brady if the Patriots do win.
- The Patriots pedigree versus the Falcons pedigree: If you know anything about football, you probably know the Patriots are consistently one of the NFL’s best teams. This year the Patriots will make the trip to their ninth Super Bowl in franchise history, while looking to win their fifth. On the other hand, the Falcons have only made one previous Super Bowl appearance in 1998, in which they lost to the Denver Broncos.
- The Falcons offense: The Falcons offense has been historically good this year, led by MVP candidate Matt Ryan. According to ESPN, Ryan finished the season with 4944 yards, 38 touchdowns and only seven interceptions. Along with Ryan, the Falcons come equipped with one of the NFL’s most dominant Wide Receivers in Julio Jones. However, the passing attack is one of the most evenly spread out in league history. The Falcons had an NFL record 13 different players catch a touchdown pass this year. According to NFL.com, the Falcons were second in the league in total offense during the regular season. Atlanta has kept the offense rolling in the playoffs as well scoring 80 points in its two playoff games.
- Patriots defense: Yes, the Patriots are most known for a consistently prolific offense, led by future Hall of Fame and arguably the greatest Quarterback of all time, Tom Brady. But, Super Bowl LI could very well fall on the shoulders of the Patriots defense. According to NFL.com, the Patriots rank eighth in total defense this season. If this defense can slow down the Falcons, the Patriots should have a good chance to win.
- Falcons defense: A common phrase in football is defense wins championships. Unfortunately for the Falcons, they had the 25th ranked defense in the league during the regular season. For that reason, stopping the fourth ranked Patriots offense will be a tall task. Although the Falcons defense had a rough regular season, they did just hold the scorching hot Quarterback Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers to 21 points in the NFC Championship game. Can they do the same against the Patriots?
Verdict: Both teams have incredible offenses, that should make for a fun game to watch. But, Super Bowl LI seems like it will hang in the balance of the defenses. It’s a cliché way to predict the outcome, but whichever team wins the turnover battle, and gives its offense more opportunities to score should prevail. Wherever you will be watching, enjoy Super Bowl LI. Hopefully the game can give us more drama than the Budweiser commercials.