Spectrum Super Bowl predictions
Sports desk gives picks for the Super Bowl
Michael Akelson, senior sports editor
New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick is one the greatest defensive minds the NFL has ever seen. He and defensive coordinator Matt Patricia will have their hands full on Super Bowl Sunday. The Falcons boast the seventh highest scoring offense in NFL history.
History tells us Belichick will find the opposing team’s strength and take it away, making somebody else beat you. But with Atlanta’s offense, there is no easy answer. Julio Jones is the man to stop, but the Falcons are stacked with weapons and can beat the Patriots in many different ways. New England allowed the least points in the league this season, but they haven’t seen an offense of this caliber all year. Matt Ryan is the real deal this year and offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan’s brilliance has put him in the best situation of his career. The Falcons will be able to score.
However, what they will not be able to do is stop the Patriots. Atlanta’s young, athletic defense has played well in recent weeks, but Tom Brady and Belichick should be able to pick apart this inexperienced unit.
I predict a close game and there’s nobody in the history of the league I’d want as the quarterback in a close Super Bowl more than Brady.
New England Patriots 34, Atlanta Falcons 31
Dan Petruccelli, asst. sports editor
The Falcons looked phenomenal against Green Bay on both sides of the ball in the NFC Championship Game and are going into the Super Bowl with a ton of momentum. But waiting for them in Houston is a juggernaut. The Patriots have been way too good this season for it to stop now. Atlanta’s defense has stepped up in the playoffs and has caused two turnovers in both playoff games, including a crucial forced fumble against Green Bay that swung the tide in the Packers game. But, New England had one of the top defenses in the league all season and they have been performing well in the playoffs.
The quarterback spot will be the main difference in this game. Matt Ryan is a good quarterback who can put up big numbers, but he just isn’t on the same level as Tom Brady. Brady has been on a tear all year and it doesn’t matter who’s on the field with him, or against him, he is finding a way to succeed. I see Brady dominating this game and establishing himself as the most successful quarterback in NFL history.
New England Patriots 27, Atlanta Falcons 17
Thomas Zafonte, asst. sports editor
After spending most of the playoffs doubting the Patriots, I go into the Super Bowl confident in a New England win. The teams stack up incredibly when it comes to offense. Brady has had an incredible postseason, even without his safety net Rob Gronkowski. Yet, Matt Ryan has been even better. With Ryan in the pocket and Julio Jones out wide, the Falcons have proved to be unstoppable on offense this postseason. If the game becomes a shootout I see it going Atlanta's way.
But that's why the Pats won't let it come down to that. If there's one clear advantage the Pats hold, it is their defense. While not Bill Belichick’s greatest defensive unit, it has the d-line to create pressure in the pocket to stop Ryan from going on a tear. No matter what either team's defense does, both offensives will still be getting points on the board. I see the game being close until the Pats take it over in the fourth quarter.
New England Patriots 31, Atlanta Falcons 21
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