The New England Patriots will go for their fifth Super Bowl title on February 5 at Houston’s NRG Stadium as they take on the high-scoring Atlanta Falcons in a game in which they opened as small betting favorites.
The Patriots ride a nine-game winning streak into the big game and will be making their record ninth appearance, losing two of their last three to the New York Giants, while the Falcons have won six in a row and are trying to win their first-ever Super Bowl in their second trip.
Point spread: The Patriots opened as three-point favorites; the total was 58.5 early in the week, according to sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark (line updates and matchup report).
Why the Patriots can cover the spread
New England has not lost away from Gillette Stadium this season, going 8-0 straight up and 7-1 against the spread. The Patriots have lost only once this year with future Hall of Fame quarterback Tom Brady under center, covering eight of the nine games during their winning streak as well.
They say defense wins championships, and this team found that out the hard way in its losses to the Giants in two of the previous nine Super Bowl matchups. Now, New England has a chance to prove its defensive unit can be a difference-maker despite seeing linebacker Jerod Mayo retire in the offseason, defensive end Chandler Jones traded to the Arizona Cardinals and linebacker Jamie Collins dealt to the Cleveland Browns.
The Patriots have surrendered a season-low 283 points between the regular season and the playoffs.
Why the Falcons can cover the spread
Atlanta has scored more points than any team in the NFL during the regular season and playoffs, with NFL MVP favorite Matt Ryan leading an offense so dynamic and balanced that New England will be hard-pressed to hold the team under 23 points.
Only the Philadelphia Eagles were able to do that back in Week 10 in a 24-15 victory, and the Falcons have gone 7-1 SU and 5-2 ATS since then, scoring 28 points or more in all eight games.
The Patriots have not faced an offense this good all season and will find it difficult to stop Atlanta’s passing game and rushing attack in what is expected to be a shootout.
Defense will indeed be the difference in Super Bowl LI, as Ryan and Atlanta will get cooled off by a hot New England team playing better on both sides of the ball than any team.
There are plenty of reasons the Falcons and Patriots are playing here, but history favors the latter based on the team's experience and Brady’s fire, which he hopes will lead to him becoming the first quarterback to win five Super Bowl rings. New England’s secondary decided its last championship win and will again here with a cover on the Super Bowl odds as well.
The Patriots are 4-0 SU and ATS in their last four games against the Falcons.
The Falcons are 5-12 ATS in their last 17 games against the AFC.
The Patriots are 6-1 SU in their last seven games in the playoffs as a favorite.
All NFL betting lines and point spreads data courtesy of Bleacher Report’s official odds partner, OddsShark. All quotes gathered firsthand unless otherwise noted. Check out Twitter for injury and line movement updates and OddsShark YouTube for picks and analysis, or download the free odds tracker app.