The New England Patriots will be making their record 9th appearance in the Super Bowl. They will be taking on the Atlanta Falcons from the NFC, who came out of nowhere this season to make their 2nd trip to the big game. The Patriots have won each of their last four meetings with the Falcons, including a 30-23 road win in their most recent matchup in 2013.
New England (16-2) was the Super Bowl favorite coming into the playoffs. Nothing the Patriots have done has changed that. The Patriots dismantled the Texans 34-16 before surprisingly making easy work of the Steelers, 36-17.
Atlanta (13-5) has also had little trouble reaching the Super Bowl. The Falcons topped Seattle 36-20 in the Divisional Round before jumping out to a 31-0 lead at halftime and never looking back in a 44-21 triumph over the Green Bay Packers in the NFC Championship.
Kickoff inside NRG Stadium in Houston is set for 6:30 EST on Sunday, February 5th with FOX providing the television coverage. Taking a look at the NFL odds, I find New England as a 3-point favorite over Atlanta with a total set of 59 points.
I’ve been riding the Falcons with a ton of success down the stretch. Somehow, this team doesn’t get the respect it deserves despite ranking as the best team in the NFL statistically. The Falcons led the league in yards per play differential during the regular season, outgaining teams by 1.1 yards per play on average.
The Falcons boast the league’s best offense at 34.4 points per game, 420.4 yards per game and 6.9 yards per play. This is a unit that has been unstoppable all season, and one that has continued to flourish in the playoffs, scoring a combined 80 points in wins over the Packers and Seahawks. Their first eight drives against the Packers in the NFC Championship resulted in six touchdowns, one field goal and a punt.
However, what gets overlooked about the Falcons is that they have been playing their best defense of the season downt he stretch. In fact, the Falcons have allowed 21 or fewer points in six of their last eight games overall. The lone exceptions were the 29 given up to Kansas City in which 9 of those came from their defense and special teams. They held the Saints to 13 points at the end of three quarters before giving up 19 in garbage time in the fourth. Holding the Seahawks to 20 and the Packers to 21 in their last two games is no small feat.
The Falcons have allowed 21 or fewer points in six of their last eight games overall.
The Patriots are clicking offensively as well, and they have the league’s best scoring defense, but that comes with an asterisk. That’s because the Patriots faced the league’s easiest slate of offenses this season. They then faced a terrible Houston offense in the Division Round, and caught a break when Le’Veon Bell was injured early in their win over the Steelers and never returned. They won’t be so fortunate in the Super Bowl as they will finally meet their match int he Falcons’ offense.
Plays against any team (NEW ENGLAND) – after scoring 35 points or more last game against opponent after three straight games where 50 total points or more were scored are 22-5 (81.5%) ATS over the last 10 seasons. The Patriots are 1-4 ATS in their last five appearances in the Super Bowl. The Falcons are 5-1 ATS in their last six games overall. Atlanta is 6-2 ATS in its last nine vs. a team with a winning record.
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