Super Bowl LI figures to be a close battle between the New England Patriots and Atlanta Falcons.
The Pats are three-point favorites over Atlanta, with the over/under set at 58.5, per OddsShark. The odds are currently 25-39 for New England and 34-25 for Atlanta to win straight up.
With this postseason already featuring eight games decided by double digits, hopefully we see a close contest to cap off this NFL season.
Here is the latest news surrounding the matchup, with some quotes and analysis from around the NFL beat.
Mack Held Out of Practice
Falcons center Alex Mack has been one of the keys to Atlanta's offensive onslaught this season (check out this article from Robert Mays of The Ringer for a detailed breakdown).
The Falcons scored 540 points this year, by far the highest mark in the league.
Mack sprained his ankle in the NFC Championship Game against the Green Bay Packers and had to leave for a brief time, but he did come back to finish the game out.
On January 24, NFL Network's Ian Rapoport gave this report:
Ian Rapoport @RapSheet
#Falcons C Alex Mack is dealing with a swollen, painful sprained ankle, source said. He returned Sunday, but unlikely to practice this week2017-1-24 15:02:52
That has been the case, as Mack has not practiced all week. However, expect Mack to be ready for Sunday.
Stephen Gostkowski Sick
Kicker Stephen Gostkowski missed some practice time with an illness, but Patriots fans shouldn't fear him missing Sunday's contest. Per Mike Reiss of ESPN.com:
Mike Reiss @MikeReiss
Patriots kicker Stephen Gostkowski (in hat) returns to practice after missing the last two days with an illness. https://t.co/ctCiTKMXdj2017-1-28 17:08:51
In the last six postseasons (including this one), Gostkowski is a perfect 20-of-20 on field-goal attempts and 47-of-49 on extra points. He's also made at least 82.9 percent of his field goals in every regular season since 2011.
Ebner at Practice on Saturday in Non-Contact Jersey
The Pats special teams ace (and a member of the U.S. Olympic men's Rugby team) was the third and final person listed on either Super Bowl injury report as missing practice Friday.
"Ebner (concussion) wore a red non-contact jersey," Doug Kyed of NESN.com wrote Saturday. "... Ebner didn't practice Thursday. He was present at practice Friday for a walkthrough, though he didn't participate. He also was present for practice Saturday. Ebner suffered the concussion in the Patriots' AFC Championship Game win over the Pittsburgh Steelers. It's his second concussion of the season."
Ebner had 19 tackles and two forced fumbles during the regular season and was an absolute force for a New England Patriots special team unit that allowed the third-fewest kick-return yards and second-fewest punt-return yards in the entire NFL this past season.
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Don't expect to get any bulletin-board material out of these two teams prior to the Super Bowl.
Quarterbacks Matt Ryan and Tom Brady have praised each other, Pats wide receiver Danny Amendola lauded the fast Falcons defense, and Falcons offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan said the Pats have the best defense Atlanta has seen this year.
These teams are well-trained in the art of saying little to nothing, which is boring for the press and fans, but who can blame them? Saying nothing will lead to fewer distractions leading up to the Super Bowl.