Sunday, January 29, 2017

2016-17 NFL playoff predictions (Part 4 - Super Bowl)

The Super Bowl approaches! After duels a-plenty, the final showdown is set for Super Bowl 51 in Houston:

New England Patriots vs. Atlanta Falcons

This match-up has all the works for an exciting showdown. The Falcons haven't won a Super Bowl, and haven't played in the title game since their first and only appearance in 1999, when they lost 34-19 to the Denver Broncos. The Patriots have finally returned to the Super Bowl for the first time in two years.


How the Patriots reached the Super Bowl

The Patriots enjoyed huge success in the regular season, going 14-2 and easily earning a first-round bye in the playoffs. Their only losses this season were to the Buffalo Bills and the Seattle Seahawks.With the exception of the two losses, the Patriots have dominated all season and through the playoffs, beginning with a 34-16 Divisional round win over the Houston Texans and then a 36-17 win over the Pittsburgh Steelers. The Patriots want another Super Bowl ring now.


How the Patriots can win the Super Bowl

The Patriots defense needs to show up big time. Atlanta has, without question, the deadliest offense in the league. The Patriots must not allow Matt Ryan time to make plays, or else the Falcons will easily make first downs and find the end zone. New England demonstrated their offensive capabilities this season, obliterating nearly all opposition. Brady's passing game will post the points, with support from the rushing unit when needed. New England needs a strong performance on all fronts if they hope to neutralize the Falcons.


How the Falcons reached the Super Bowl

The Falcons finished second overall in the NFC, their record of 11-5 bested by the 13-3 Dallas Cowboys. Despite their record, the Falcons have proven to be an near-unstoppable force, consistently posting 30 or even 40-plus points on the board. In the playoffs, the Falcons destroyed all opposition, pummeling the Seattle Seahawks 36-20 and then annihilating the Green Bay Packers 44-21. The Falcons are eager for their first Super Bowl win.


How the Falcons can win the Super Bowl

Score lots of points! If only it were that simple. Of course Matt Ryan will count on Julio Jones and the rest of his deadly offense to score, that much is certain. The Falcons defense will face its toughest test of the season; Tom Brady and the Patriots will never give up without a fight. Brady wants his fifth ring, and the Falcons are the only remaining obstacle. Force Brady to make costly mistakes, and the Falcons will run up the score incredibly quickly.


I expect a high-scoring affair, with touchdowns galore from Brady and Ryan. Defense, however, will ensure neither team turns this into a lop-sided affair. It will be a fight to the brink, but only one will stand this day.

And it will be New England.

Patriots win, 35-31

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