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On Sunday, February 5, the Atlanta Falcons square off with the New England Patriots at Super Bowl LI in Houston. This is only the second time the Falcons have made it to a Super Bowl, and the seventh time the Patriots have since 2002. Experience could factor in as the two teams vie for the Lombardi Trophy.

 

New England Patriots vs. Atlanta Falcons

Sunday, February 5 - 6:30 PM ET
Super Bowl LI Favourite: Patriots –3

This season’s matchup features two prolific offenses. During the regular season, the Falcons were second in the league in yards gained, and the Patriots were fourth. The Patriots’ fourth-place finish is especially impressive given Tom Brady’s four-game absence at the start of the season. They’ve averaged 30 points per game when Brady plays.

On the other side, there’s Matt Ryan, who’ll likely be named the league's regular season MVP after leading the NFL’s highest-scoring offense (33.8 points per game). Ryan was masterful in a 44-21 victory last Sunday over the Green Bay Packers that was essentially over by halftime; he completed 27 of his 38 passes for 392 yards, four touchdowns and no picks. He has posted a quarterback rating of at least 121.8 in each of his last six games. Ryan spreads the ball, with eight players catching 20 passes or more in the regular season. Brady, meanwhile, had seven players catch 20 or more passes.

Atlanta’s weakness is their defense, which finished the regular season 25th in yards allowed (the Patriots ranked eighth), but that doesn't tell the whole story. The Falcons' young defense improved over the second half of the season and were fantastic against Green Bay's QB Aaron Rodgers in the Conference Championship game. Including the playoffs, the Falcons’ have allowed 20.5 points per game since their bye week. They also have the NFL’s leading sacker, Vic Beasley Jr. (15.5), which could come in handy against Brady.

The Patriots' defense led the NFL by giving up the fewest points, which creates a matchup of the NFL’s top offense against the top defense. In the last five of those matchups, the defensive teams have won four times.

The Patriots were outstanding against the spread this season, going 13-3 in the regular season and covering in both playoff games. The Falcons were no slouches, going 10-6 ATS in the regular season while also covering both playoff games. The Patriots were the favourites 15 times during the regular season and covered in 12 games (and both playoff games). The Falcons were underdogs six times in the regular season and covered in five games.

 

Examining the Over/Under

Super Bowl LI Total: 59.5

The total for the Big Game is 59.5, up from the opening total of 59, which is the highest total in Super Bowl history. Given the potential of both offenses, Brady and Ryan at quarterback, and defenses that can be pierced, the big total shouldn't be a surprise. During the regular season, the Patriots went over six times, along with a push, and the Falcons went over 14 times. The Patriots and Falcons have also gone over the totals in both playoff games, giving no indication of slowing down.

 

*Odds as of January 26, 2017