A Look Ahead To Super Bowl LI

A Look Ahead To Super Bowl LI

By Trent Tetzlaff and Jake Zipperer

Super Bowl LI is almost here. This year’s matchup between the New England Patriots and Atlanta Falcons promises to be a great game. Fascinating questions surround the game such as what team will win, who will take home the MVP, and is Bill Belichick the greatest coach in NFL history?

We’ll give you our game predictions later, but first, let’s look back at the Super Bowl history of both squads.

Atlanta Falcons

  • Atlanta is one of 13 teams to never win a Super Bowl, and have only reached the big game once.
  • The Falcons fell big to the powerhouse Denver Broncos in Super Bowl XXXIII, 34-19.
  • Chris Chandler was Atlanta’s quarterback during their lone Super Bowl run. During that 1998 season he threw for 3,154 yards and 25 touchdowns.
  • The city of Atlanta’s last major sporting championship was in 1995 (Braves World Series Title).

New England Patriots

  • Tom Brady is tied for the most Super Bowls won as a quarterback. With all four coming as a Patriot.
  • New England has appeared in the Super Bowl nine times in franchise history, which is the most of any NFL team. Seven of those have been with Bill Belichick as coach.
  • The Patriots’ last Super Bowl win came back in 2015 when they defeated the Seattle Seahawks 28-24.
  • This is Tom Brady’s first Super Bowl appearance since the Deflategate scandal in 2015, which led to his four-game suspension earlier this season.

Your Picks

Our Picks

Eastbay sports writers Jake Zipperer and Trent Tetzlaff sat down to discuss the big game and all of the surroundings.Here’s their picks breaking down coaching, quarterbacks, offense, defense, special teams, MVP, and the score prediction.

Quarterback:

TT: Matt Ryan. He outdueled Aaron Rodgers with ease, so why can’t he take down Tom Brady as well?

JZ: Tom Brady. Been there, done that. Tom Brady is the one of the greatest of all time, and shows that in this game.

Head Coach:

TT: Patriots. This one is self-evident for me — Bill Belichick and crew know what to do in the big game.

JZ: Patriots. Bill Belichick and defensive coordinator Matt Patricia have been here before, and have the experience to get the job done.

Offense:

TT: Atlanta. Matt Ryan, Devonta Freeman, Tevin Coleman, Julio Jones, Mohamed Sanu — The list goes on and on. Atlanta has the weapons needed to win it all.

JZ: Atlanta. The weapons surrounding Matt Ryan make this number-one-scoring offense a major threat.

Defense:

TT: Patriots. An experienced secondary and line-backing core puts the Patriots defense ahead of the Falcons in my mind — but it’s close.

JZ: Patriots. The number-one-scoring defense shines bright on the big stage once again.

Special Teams:

TT: Atlanta. Punt and kick returner Eric Weems comes up with some big returns to give the Falcons good field position, and kicker Matt Bryant knocks in all of his extra points and field goals.

JZ: Atlanta. Returners and the kicking game put this one in Atlanta’s favor.

MVP:

TT: Julio Jones. Julio picks up where he left off against the Packers and torches the Patriots secondary for over 200 yards receiving and multiple scores.

JZ: Tom Brady. The savvy veteran who has been there before continues to play well in the big game with over 300 yards and 3 touchdowns.

Score Prediction:

TT: Falcons 34-31. The Falcons playmakers show how good they really are as they torch a normally strong Patriots secondary.

JZ: Patriots 31-21. Tom Brady continues his Super Bowl magic, and the Patriots defense slows down Matt Ryan and Julio Jones.

Join in on the Super Bowl conversation with us and drop us a comment below with your thoughts on the big game! No matter who you are rooting for Sunday, we’ve got you covered at eastbay.com with our selection of Atlanta and New England fan gear!

Julio Jones – Gridiron Man

Julio Jones – Gridiron Man

Julio Jones

words // Katie Nelson
images // Heidi Hammer
video // Sam Plucker

After leading Alabama to an undefeated 14-0 season during his sophomore year in 2009, winning the national title, being the 6th overall selection in the 2011 draft, and landing a Pro Bowl nomination, Atlanta’s Julio Jones takes his place among top athletes to grace the Eastbay cover.

“Growing up, you see all these athletes and people you look up to on the cover. Being on the cover is something you dream about.”

At Alabama, Jones played under the leadership of Nick Saban, who was once named “The Most Powerful Coach in Sports.” Under his leadership, Jones developed as a player and a professional athlete.

“Playing for Coach Saban at Alabama was a great experience for me. I loved it when I went there because he told me that ‘we will win with you or without you.’ That was one of the reasons that made me want to go there because I didn’t want anybody to give me anything. He made me work for everything I got. I really respect Coach Saban for doing that and not handing things to me, because I was the #1 receiver coming out. Hard work pays off. That’s what I learned from him. He made that transition for me from college to the NFL so much easier.”

Jones’ competitiveness and self-confidence coupled with his abilities and talent on the football field make him the powerhouse he is today. He refines his skills through continuous training to keep him at the top of his game.

“I prepare to win by eating healthy and doing a lot of stretching for flexibility, longevity, and to prevent injuries. My training is focused on being able to outlast my opponent; I work on my cardio and stamina, just to be able to outlast the guy across from me. It’s like a fight to me. If you beat me on one play, I’m just going to keep coming until you get tired.”

For more on Julio Jones, visit eastbay.com/JulioJones.

NFL Watch // Texans, Falcons & Cardinals Remain Unbeaten

NFL Watch // Texans, Falcons & Cardinals Remain Unbeaten

Fans Love the Refs // Philadelphia Eagles

words // Brandon Richard

Though the 2012 NFL season is still fresh, the return of the regular referees stole Week 4 headlines after an agreement was reached last Wednesday. Following the Monday Night debacle in Green Bay last week, Commissioner Goodell, the league’s owners and officials worked out a new deal in time for Thursday’s game between the Cleveland Browns and Baltimore Ravens. Needless to say, players, coaches and fans were happy to see the real deal back on the field.

While refs may not be perfect, the Houston Texans, Atlanta Falcons and Arizona Cardinals entered the weekend with unblemished records and were hopeful that they’d stay that way. The Texans had a relatively easy time accomplishing that feat, but it came down to the final ticks for the Falcons and Cardinals.

With another stifling defensive performance, Houston rolled over the division rival Tennessee Titans 38-14. Quarterback Matt Schaub threw for 202 yards and two touchdowns, while Danieal Manning and Kareem Jackson returned interceptions for touchdowns to help the Texans ease their way into a 4-0 start.

How do you overcome three Cam Newton touchdowns and a late-game deficit? Try Matt Ryan, Roddy White and a little perseverance. Down 28-27 with less than two minutes to play, the Falcons forced a running Newton to fumble on 3rd and 2, preventing him from picking up a game-clinching first down. Then, pinned back at his own 1-yard line, Ryan led a signature drive that left the Cats stunned. The key play on the drive was a 59-yard bomb to White, which help set Atlanta up for a game-winning 40-yard Matt Bryant field goal. Ryan completed 25 passes for 369 yards and three touchdowns, two of which were caught by Roddy.

Lastly, there were the unpredictable Cardinals, who showed the fight of a team with playoff aspirations on Sunday. Down 13-0 at halftime, the Birds rallied in the second half to force overtime. In the extra frame, Jay Feeley booted a 46-yarder to keep Arizona perfect. Kevin Kolb threw for 324 yards and three touchdowns, while Andre Roberts continued to turn heads with a 118-yard, two touchdown reception day.

In other Week 4 games, the New England Patriots scored 45 second half points to comeback and blast the Buffalo Bills 52-28; Minnesota’s special teams proved to be the difference in a 20-13 upset victory over the Detroit Lions; San Francisco may have ushered in a new era of Tebowmania by blanking the New York Jets 34-0; Peyton Manning got back on track by guiding the Broncos past the rival Oakland Raiders 37-6; Green Bay shook off another unfortunate ref call to top the winless New Orleans Saints 28-27; RG3 and Billy Cundiff helped the Washington Redskins hold off the Tampa Bay Buccaneers 24-22; Lawrence Tynes missed a late field goal in a 19-17 Giants loss to the Philadelphia Eagles; and the Dallas Cowboys’ woes continued with an ugly 34-18 loss to the Chicago Bears last night.

Want to know what football cleats were players were wearing in this action packed week of football? Find out in today’s NFL Watch.

images courtesy of Yahoo

NFL Watch // Texans, Falcons & Cardinals Remain Unbeaten

Roddy White wearing Reebok Football Cleats

Roddy White makes a grab in Zig Blaze Reebok football cleats.

Patrick Peterson wearing Nike Vapor Pro Low TD

Patrick Peterson dives in the Nike Vapor Pro Low TD.

Andre Johnson wearing Jordan Super.Fly PE

Andre Johnson warms up in his PE Jordan Super.Fly cleats.

Fans Love the Refs // Houston Texans

Steven Jackson carries in a PE colorway of the Nike Lunar Superbad Pro TD.

James Jones wearing Under Armour Blur MC

James Jones catches a pass in the Under Armour Blur.

Fans Love the Refs // Green Bay Packers

Demaryius Thomas wearing Nike Lunar Super Bad Pro Low TD

Demaryius Thomas looks on in Lunar Superbad Pro Low TD Nike football cleats.

Fans Love the Refs // Denver Broncos

Robert Griffin III wearing adidas adiZero 5-Star

Robert Griffin III says a pre-game prayer in the adidas adiZero 5-Star.

BenJarvus Green-Ellis wearing Nike Lunar Superbad Pro TD

BenJarvus Green-Ellis finds running room in the Nike Lunar Superbad Pro TD.

Eddie Royal wearing Nike Vapor Low Pro TD

Eddie Royal scores in the Nike Vapor Pro Low TD.

Adrian Peterson wearing Nike Super Speed TD 3/4

Adrian Peterson avoids a tackle in Super Speed 3/4 Nike football cleats.

Brian Dawkins wearing Nike Vapor Pro Nubby

Brian Dawkins returned to Philly for his jersey retirement ceremony in Vapor Pro Nubby Nike football cleats.

Devin Hester wearing Nike Vapor Pro Low TD Breast Cancer Awareness

Devin Hester scores a touchdown in a Breast Cancer Awareness colorway of the Nike Vapor Pro Low TD.

Torrey Smith wearing Under Armour Nitro Diablo

Torrey Smith makes a touchdown grab in the Under Armour Nitro Diablo.

Tom Brady wearing Under Armour Football Cleats

Tom Brady looks downfield in Under Armour football cleats.

Frank Gore wearing adidas adiZero 5-Star

Frank Gore breaks through the line in the adidas adiZero 5-Star.