Sports

Super Bowl LI: THE FACEOFF Part 1

GARRETT WALKER

EDITOR-IN-CHIEF

On Sunday, February 5, Super Bowl LI mania will descend upon Houston. As much as it pains me to say it, the Falcons are going to get shellacked; the Patriots are the best team in football.

Sure, the season didn’t start well for them. They were without Rob Gronkowski for the first two games and Tom Brady for the first four. But what was the result? A 3-1 start to the season. A 14-2 complete season — the best in the league. For those keeping score at home, that’s one more win than the much-vaunted Cowboys.

Compare that to an 11-5 Falcons. A team that consistently yields 20 points to the opposition. A team that lost to the Chargers. (Who loses to the Chargers?)

The Patriots’ strength derives from their dynamic leader, head coach Bill Belichick. Under Belichick’s leadership, the Patriots have reached the AFC Championship Game every year since 2011. They haven’t had a losing season since 2000. Put simply, the Patriots winning is a foregone conclusion.

And, more importantly, they’re hot right now. The Patriots routed the Texans. They cleaned the Steelers’ clocks last week. Even without Gronk — out again with a back injury — it’s business as usual for the nonpareil Patriots. And that spells trouble for the
Falcons defense.

Julian Edelman has been a phenomenal wide receiver for New England, and LeGarrette Blount continues to break team records on the ground. But what’s so special about the Patriots is how modular the team is. Belichick has dozens of options in his offense, and can rely on a sound defense to stifle the Falcons. Because opponents don’t know who they’re going to be playing, they cannot prepare adequately. That’s what will make the difference on Sunday.

Falcons supporters contend that Julio Jones is an indomitable force. Or that Matt Ryan has the capacity to lead the team to a championship. Both statements are true. But Matt Ryan and Julio Jones are all the Falcons have. And when you go up against a team with dangerous weapons stationed at every offensive position, a team with a defense many have called the best in the league, a team that with reserves that could have a winning record in their own right, you need to be perfect to even be in the same conversation.

There is simply no comparison.

The Patriots will win Super Bowl LI.

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