History beckons for this year’s Super Bowl LI combatants with the Atlanta Falcons (11-5) and New England Patriots (14-2) striving to re-write the history books in Houston.
Matt Ryan’s Falcons are appearing in just their second Super Bowl and are looking to lift the Vince Lombardi trophy for the first time after succumbing to the Denver Broncos 34-19 in the 1998 Super Bowl.
On the other side of the ledger, Patriots coach Bill Belichick is striving to collect a record fifth Super Bowl while Hall-of-Fame in waiting quarterback Tom Brady is appearing in an unprecedented seventh Super Bowl.
The veteran signal caller is aiming to collect a fifth Super Bowl ring which would equal the all-time record set by former San Francisco 49ers and Dallas Cowboys star Charles Haley.
The Patriots are appearing in a record ninth Super Bowl and their third in the last six years.
Both sides enter the season-ending decider at the peak of their powers.
The Patriots have won nine straight dating back to the regular season and the AFC Champions’ last defeat was to Seattle in week 10 on November 14 (AEDT).
The Falcons likewise are on a tear and the NFC champions have notched six straight going back to the regular season. Their last defeat was to the Kansas City Chiefs in week 13, December 5 (AEDT).
The pivotal match-up will be Atlanta’s high octane NFL-leading offence (33.8 PPG) up against New England’s stingy NFL-leading defence (15.6 PPG).
Will we see more heroics from the Patriots’ cornerback Malcolm Butler who made a name for himself in the 2015 Super Bowl when he saved the game for the Pats with a goal-line interception of Seahawks’ quarterback Russell Wilson.
A potential match-up with athletic Falcons wide receiver Julio Jones is a salivating proposition.
Jones leads the Falcons’ receiving corps with 83 receptions and six touchdowns on 1409 yards while Butler leads the Pats with four interceptions in addition to 17 PD and 63 tackles.
The quarterback duel will be a fascinating one pitting Falcons QB and MVP candidate Matt Ryan up against ageless stalwart and Ted 2 star Tom Brady.
Ryan has been superb throwing for 4944 yards, 38 touchdowns at a QBR of 83.1 while Brady has thrown for 3554 yards, 28 touchdowns at a QBR of 82.8 since returning to action after missing the early part of the season through suspension.
In his last six games, Ryan has thrown for 18 touchdowns and zero interceptions.
In the ultimate battle between offensive and defensive prowess, it’s hard not to back the side with the superior defence.
Defence wins Super Bowls and what the Butler did in 2015 underpins that philosophy.
The Patriots are also unbeaten away from the home this season and haven’t lost a competitive game away from Foxborough since their defeat to the Broncos in last season’s AFC Championship game.
In an ominous sign for the Falcons, Brady has also won all four match-ups against them while throwing nine touchdowns to just one interception.
The Falcons have shown a vulnerability in defence and Brady and co will look to exploit that while relying on their steadfast defence to nullify the Falcons’ prolific offence.
Whatever the outcome, history will be created in Houston.
Atlanta Falcons at $2.35
New England Patriots at $1.65
Tip: New England Patriots at $1.65
Line tip: New England Patriots -2.5 at $1.95
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