The AFC Champion New England Patriots are set to square off in Super Bowl 51 against NFC Champion Atlanta Falcons. The Patriots are the heavy favorites by many to take home the Lombardi trophy this year.
The Patriots are of course led by quarterback Tom Brady, who is in the running to win MVP for the 3rd time. Brady will be up against a tough Atlanta secondary, but the challenge is nothing new for Brady. The running game for the Patriots has been solid all season, but recent emergence of Dion Lewis has made it much more deadly. The speedy Lewis complements LeGarrette Blount, who will wear down the Falcons with runs up the middle. Brady can toss the ball all over the field, and does not favor one receiver over any other. Brady has started throwing to Chris Hogan more and more and has made him into a rising star. The Falcons will also have trouble with the speedy Julian Edelman and Danny Amendola. Martellus Bennett has a chance to go off for a huge game against a Falcons team that has struggled against tight ends throughout the defense.
For the Falcons, all eyes will be on quarterback Matt Ryan, who is having the best season of his career. He has been consistent, reliable, and has thrown for a gaudy amount of yards, just picking a part secondaries. That was on display against the Packers in the NFC championship, a team that Ryan did not even work up a sweat against. He outcompeted future hall-of-famer Aaron Rodgers, and it wasn’t even close. The Patriots will have to conjure some sort of wizardry to shut down wide receiver Julio Jones, a top 3 receiver in the league this year. He embarrassed the Packers multiple times this week, and will be up against the Patriots best corner, Malcolm Butler. Butler tweeted in 2012, “I wanna check (shut down) Julio Jones…lol…real talk doe.” If Butler fails to “check” Julio Jones, this game could be much closer than many have predicted it to be, and we could see the Falcons steal the trophy.