The Starting Five – SuperBowl Predictions

Carter Landis, Sports Editor

Super Bowl 51 will feature MVP leading candidate Matt Ryan and the best offense in the NFL in the Atlanta Falcons for the first time since 1998, and they’ve got their work cut out for them playing the legendary coach Bill Belichick, best quarterback in NFL history Tom Brady, and the New England Patriots. Both teams shared similar roads to Houston this postseason.

The Falcons’ journey to the Super Bowl wasn’t a very difficult one. Clinching the #2 seed in the NFC and holding home field advantage for two games, they defeated the Seahawks 36-20, and last Sunday, dismantled the Packers 44-21.

The game started with a Matt Ryan touchdown pass to Mohamed Sanu, and it was downhill from there for the Packers. Never establishing an offensive game and failing to move the ball at all, Aaron Rodgers found himself in a 24-0 hole at halftime. The second half wasn’t much better for Green Bay either, after Julio Jones fought off a hold from LaDarius Gunter, snagged the pass, and bullied two defenders down the field 73 yards for a touchdown. He finished the game with 9 catches for 180 yards and two touchdowns. The Falcons defense sacked Rodgers a couple times and picked him off, and the game was really over from the beginning.

The Patriots didn’t really have much of a tough time getting to their seventh Super Bowl in the Brady-Belichick era, either. Claiming the #1 seed in the AFC and taking care of business against the weak Texans, New England never really worried about the Steelers.

To be fair, the Steelers were without star running back Le’Veon Bell for most of the game after he pulled his groin, but their star wide receiver Antonio Brown was held in check for the entire game by Patriots cornerback Malcolm Butler, only allowing two catches for just 24 yards. With the Steelers never being able to get the offense going, the Patriots took advantage and barraged the Pittsburgh defense. Patriots receiver Chris Hogan posted the exact same statline as Julio Jones, 9 catches, 180 yards, two touchdowns. Brady and the Pats smashed the Steelers, 36-17.

The Super Bowl should be an interesting matchup, the #1 Falcons offense vs. the #1 Patriots defense. The last time this happened was in 2014 when the Seahawks’ #1 defense demolished the #1 offense in the Denver Broncos, 43-8. It will be fun to see if the Patriots can slow down Matt Ryan’s MVP campaign, and if the Falcons can stop Tom Brady. And hopefully it isn’t a blowout.

Score prediction: Patriots 41, Falcons 37