In addition to being the most important matchup of the season, this is one of the more interesting matchups in recent Super Bowl history. We have two stellar quarterbacks, a slew of top-notch coaches and executives and a ton of talented players involved in this one.
We'll also get to see the league's top scoring offense (Atlanta, 33.8 points per game) face off against the league's top scoring defense (New England, 15.6 points per game allowed).
This one should be a lot of fun.
Super Bowl LI is also going to provide quite a few opportunities to, say, make things interesting on an individual level. Today, we're going to take a look at Super Bowl LI and the latest odds, per OddsShark.com. We'll make our predictions for the game and examine some of the top picks and props for Super Bowl Sunday.
Super Bowl LI
What: New England Patriots vs. Atlanta Falcons
Where: NRG Stadium, Houston, Texas
When: Sunday, February 5
Time: 6:30 p.m. ET
National TV: Fox
Live Stream: Fox Sports Go
Line: NE -3
Prediction: New England 28-24
Picks and Props
New England (-3) over Atlanta
It's really a shame that the Falcons seem to be getting little respect in this game—at least on a national level. Those who think the Patriots are just going to walk into Houston and carry home another Lombardi with little effort are fooling themselves.
Either that or folks have already forgotten how little respect the New York Giants got the last two times they faced—and defeated—the Patriots in the big one.
Here's why we're going to stick by New England with a three-point margin, though. Those Giants teams were able to win with defense. They held the Patriots under 20 points in both Super Bowl wins, making enough big offensive plays when it mattered to come out on top.
While the Falcons boast an improving defense, they don't have a truly top-tier unit. New England is actually the team coming into the game with an elite defense. The Patriots are rated first in overall defense by Pro Football Focus and ranked eighth in yards allowed (326.4 per game) in the regular season.
As we've already mentioned, no team has allowed fewer points than the Patriots.
"It's the best defense that we've seen in the NFL this year," Falcons offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan said of New England, per Vaughn McClure of ESPN.com. "The numbers show it. And watch the film and you see exactly why their numbers are the way they are. They are extremely tough to score against. That's why their No. 1 in the NFL."
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The Patriots are going to be tough to score against. The Falcons, while underrated on defense, haven't been as tough to score on. They're rated 14th in overall defense by Pro Football Focus and allowed an average of 25.4 points per game in the regular season.
If the Patriots were strictly a defensive team, these two might balance each other out. However, New England actually ranked third in scoring with an average of 27.6 points per game in the regular season. More importantly, they've averaged 30.7 points per game with Tom Brady under center, including the playoffs.
Essentially, the Patriots should have a chance to make more defensive stops than the Falcons. A three-point spread actually feels about right because this game is likely to be close, but we think the Patriots can nudge it out.
Julio Jones UNDER 98.5 Yards Receiving
We love Falcons wide receiver Julio Jones. We also believe he's going to have a major impact on the Super Bowl. However, we're not sure his impact will come in the form of impressive yardage.
We found a nifty little prop over at OddsChecker.com involving Jones and an over/under of 98.5 yards receiving. Take the under here, mainly because of the stout defense New England is bringing into the game.
The Patriots have the top scoring defense and top overall defense, according to Pro Football Focus. They also happen to have the top pass-coverage unit in the NFL, according to Pro Football Focus.
In addition to having some pretty talented guys patrolling the secondary, the Patriots are notoriously good at taking away a team's top offensive weapon. Last week, that weapon was Pittsburgh Steelers wideout Antonio Brown. While Brown did haul in seven receptions, he totaled just 77 yards and failed to reach the end zone.
Jones will obviously be the guy the Patriots focus on next weekend. If the Patriots are insistent in containing him, we think they can keep him south of 99 yards receiving. For as good as Jones has been this season—he's averaging more than 100 yards per start—he has been contained at times.
In fact, Jones was held under 99 yards eight different times this year, including the playoffs. We believe Super Bowl LI will mark the ninth.
Odds to Score Two or More Touchdowns
|2 or More TDs|
|Julio Jones, WR, ATL||3-2|
|Devonta Freeman, RB, ATL`||3-1|
|LeGarrette Blount, RB, NE||3-1|
|Tevin Coleman, RB, ATL||5-1|
|Julian Edelman, WR, NE||6-1|
|Mohamed Sanu, WR, ATL||6-1|
|Chris Hogan, WR, NE||7-1|
|Taylor Gabriel, WR, ATL||7-1|
|Dion Lewis, RB, NE||8-1|
|Martellus Bennett, TE, NE||14-1|
|James White, RB, NE||25-1|
|Malcolm Mitchell, WR, NE||25-1|
|Austin Hooper, TE, ATL||40-1|
|Danny Amendola, WR, NE||40-1|
|Justin Hardy, WR, ATL||40-1|
While Jones might not have a record-setting day in terms of receiving yards, he does currently have the best odds to reach the end zone more than once—according to OddsChecker.com.
In actuality, though, we like the running backs better in this category because of the possibility of scoring in multiple ways. LeGarrette Blount and Devonta Freeman are both attractive plays because of the likelihood of them getting goal-line carries.
Patriots utility back Dion Lewis shouldn't be discounted here, though, especially since he also returns punts. He scored three touchdowns against the Houston Texans a couple weeks ago—one on a return, one rushing and one receiving.
If you're looking for a sneaky play, consider Falcons tight end Austin Hooper. The Patriots aren't likely to let Atlanta's stars beat them, but if they aren't careful, Hooper is a guy who can burn them in the red zone.