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!

NFL Week 2 Top 3 Match-Ups

words_Jordan Hagedorn

Week 1′s Top 3 Match-Ups turned out to be solid games. The Saints beat the Vikes, the Pats knocked off the Bengals, and the Ravens upended the Jets on Monday Night Football.

For Week 2′s Top 3 Match-Ups we look at a game between two up-and-coming teams, an intense AFC East rivalry, and a face-off between brothers.

Houston Texans at Washington Redskins
The first match-up pits two teams coming off huge in-division wins. The Texans upset Peyton Manning and the Colts, who had only lost one out of their 16 games against Houston. Texans RB Arian Foster couldn’t be stopped as he ran 33 times for 231 yards and 3 TDs. The Redskins, with new QB Donovan McNabb at the helm, upset the Cowboys in Landover, MD. The Skins’ D held the ‘Boys to just one touchdown to walk away with a 13-7 Week 1 win. This week should be a battle to see which team continues in the right direction. I look for Arian to run wild and the aerial attack of Matt Schaub to Andre Johnson to be too much for the Redskins to handle.

New England Patriots at New York Jets
After a big win over a good Bengals team, the Patriots are looking to keep their momentum moving forward against the Jets. The Jets are coming off a tough 10-9 loss to the Ravens on Monday night and need to rebound. This match-up features a potent Patriots passing attack with Brady throwing to Moss and Welker again a stingy Jets D. The Jets offense just isn’t very strong. I think they’ll score a couple touchdowns this week, but I have the Patriots winning in the end.

New York Giants at Indianapolis Colts
This week, Peyton Manning and the Colts need to bounce back after an upset loss to the Texans. The Giants beat a mediocre Panthers team but will have a much tougher challenge this week. The Manning brothers face off this week in what is one of the coolest story lines of the young NFL season. Older brother Peyton won the big game in 2007 against the Bears and was named Super Bowl XLI MVP, while little brother Eli followed in big bro’s footsteps the following season, winning Super Bowl XLII against the Patriots and also being named MVP of the game. This is a big game for brotherly bragging rights. I think the elder Manning will have his team more prepared. I’m taking the Colts at home.

NFL Week 1 Top 3 Match-Ups

words_Jordan Hagedorn

Week 1 of the NFL season kicks off tonight with a rematch of the NFL Championship game last year. In one corner you have the defending Champion the New Orleans Saints, and in the other you have the Brett Favre-led Minnesota Vikings. Both teams are coming off of great seasons last year, and both are hungrier than ever. This much-anticipated, hyped match-up is the game of the week and led me to pick the Top 3 Match-Ups of Week 1.

Minnesota Vikings at New Orleans Saints
For the first match-up, we’ll look at tonight’s game between the Vikes and Saints. It features two of the top QBs in the league facing off, with 2010 Super Bowl MVP Drew Brees against living legend and future Hall of Famer Brett Favre, who are pretty evenly matched. Then you have Adrian Peterson of the Vikings and Reggie Bush/Pierre Thomas of the Saints in opposing backfields. The Vikes get the edge there, but don’t count the Saints’ rushing attack out; they are dangerous with Bush catching a lot of balls out of the backfield. With Vikes WR Sidney Rice out, and Saints’ top wideout Marques Colston banged up, the receiving side of things is pretty even. The Vikes D is very strong, but the Saints play extremely good team defense, so once again it’s a wash. The Saints are the defending Champs, Coach Sean Payton always has his team prepared, and they are playing at home, so I give a slight edge to New Orleans.

Cincinnati Bengals at New England Patriots

The second intriguing match-up this week is the Cincinnati Bengals traveling to New England to take on the Patriots. The Bengals picked up celebrity WR Terrell Owens in free agency to go along with their other high-profile WR Chad Ocho Cinco. They are hoping to be a lethal duo on the field this season. The Pats have stud WRs Randy Moss and Wes Welker to counter Cinci’s passing attack. QBs Carson Palmer and Tom Brady are both super talented, but since Brady knows what it takes to win big games, I’ll give the Pats the nod here. The defensive side of the ball is pretty evenly matched, and Bill Belichick has those three Super Bowl rings, so I got the Pats in this game.

Baltimore Ravens at New York Jets
The third matchup of Week 1 features two exciting teams that should both play an extremely physical game Monday Night at the New Meadowlands Stadium. Both teams made some great off-season moves with the Ravens, acquiring excellent WRs Anquan Boldin and T.J. Houshmandzadeh, while the Jets picked up Super Bowl XLIII MVP Santonio Holmes and star RB LaDainian Tomlinson. Third-year QB Joe Flacco goes up against second-year guy Mark Sanchez in a match-up of youngsters. Both defenses are very talented and should give viewers a great show for the first Monday Night Football game of the year. It’s hard to bet against either one of these teams as Rex Ryan is one of the best coaches in the league, and young head coach John Harbaugh seems to always have his squad playing at a high level. I give a slight edge to the Ravens because Flacco has so many weapons in RBs Ray Rice and Willis McGahee, the aforementioned WRs and TE Todd Heap. I’m picking the Ravens, but if the Jets can make some big plays on D and get good play from their special teams, they can win this game.

For more NFL content, check out the Week 1 2010 NFL Power Rankings or a more in-depth look at the Vikes/Saints Season Opener.