Free-scoring Falcons are on Fire
Atlanta have notched 30 points or more in each of their last six contests and the Patriots will have a tough job slowing Matt Ryan and co down. The Falcons had the number one scoring offense during the regular season and they are blessed with talent in all areas; from running back duo Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman to tight-end Austin Hooper.
But the two stars of the show are Matt Ryan and Julio Jones. Atlanta will need both men to be at their best on Sunday night because they are virtually unstoppable when they click. The Falcons know that Ryan and Jones have the capacity to turn Super Bowl 51 in their favour if they maintain their form.
Dan Quinn brings Super Bowl-winning experience
Patriots head coach Bill Belichick has won six Super Bowl titles but Atlanta now have their very own Super Bowl-winning coach at the helm. Dan Quinn was defensive co-ordinator for the Seattle Seahawks when they thrashed the Denver Broncos in one of the most one-sided Super Bowl matchups of all-time in 2013.
Quinn will be hoping for a similar result this time around when he goes up against Belichick for the first time as a head coach. The entire Atlanta Falcons roster has featured in just five Super Bowl matchups collectively – one less than Tom Brady – but Quinn will be confident that his side have the mental strength to cope with the occasion.
Matt Ryan: regular season MVP?
There are three genuine contenders for the regular season MVP award; Tom Brady, Aaron Rodgers and Matt Ryan. Of these three, the latter may deserve the accolade most of all after an incredible 2016 season. Firstly, he led Atlanta to the Super Bowl for only the second time in franchise history; recording a league-leading 117.1 passer rating whilst doing so.
In addition, Ryan his touchdown-to-interception ratio of 38:7 was second only to Brady; but the New England man was suspended for the first four weeks of the season. When you take Ryan’s 69.9% completion rate and 4,944 passing yards into account, there really is one winner this year - and that’s Matty Ice.
Julio Jones has the potential to go OFF
Cast your minds back to Week 4; the 2-1 Falcons were about to face the Carolina Panthers in a vital NFC South clash. Julio Jones, who had recorded just one catch for 16 yards in his previous outing, went off; recording 12 catches for 300 yards and a touchdown. Ultimately, the Atlanta star stands tall alongside Antonio Brown as the best receiver in the game.
Jones became just the sixth player in NFL history to record a 300-yard game; an incredible achievement. In doing so, he broke his own Falcons franchise record for receiving yards in a single game and another epic performance could be on the horizon at Super Bowl 51 in Houston.
Atlanta pass rush can get to Tom Brady
At the end of the day, defence wins championships and Atlanta’s defence, whilst ranking 27th in terms of points allowed, can put pressure on the New England quarterback. Quinn will want his defensive stars to respect Brady’s ability but the likes of Dwight Freeney, Adrian Clayborn and Vic Beasley will show no mercy if the Falcons build an early lead.
Beasley finished the regular season with a very impressive 15.5 sacks – more than anyone else in the National Football League. If the Falcons defence can blitz Brady early on, the Patriots will have to tweak their game plan in order to protect against Atlanta’s fiery pass rush. The more hits they get on Brady, the better.
As of January 31st, Atlanta are 23/17 to win the Super Bowl with 888sport – check out their NFL betting markets ahead of Sunday’s showpiece event.