Silver City, NM – The New England Patriots and the Atlanta Falcons will look to add a Super Bowl title to their franchise as they compete in Super Bowl LI next Sunday on February 5th.
The Patriots in the regular season, finished with the league’s best record, 14-2. The two losses came from the Buffalo Bills in Week 4 and from the Seattle Seahawks in Week 10. With the number one seed in the AFC, New England dominated in the postseason as they defeated the Houston Texans, 34-16, and the Pittsburgh Steelers, 36-17.
With four championships added to their resume, the Patriots will make their ninth trip to the Super Bowl, their seventh since 2001. In their most recent Super Bowl contest, New England defeated the Seahawks, 28-24, in 2014.
Before the New England Patriot’s 2016-2017 kicked off, there was one major obstacle to face; a four-game suspension for starting quarterback, Tom Brady. Brady, a four-time champion and one of the most successful quarterbacks in the NFL, would be replaced by backup quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo. After winning the first two games of the season, Garoppolo took an injury midway through the second game. This forced the Patriots to lean on their third string quarterback Jacoby Brissett for the final two games of Brady’s suspension. Brissett answered with a win to the Texans, 27-0, and a loss to the Bills, 16-0. In Brady’s return in Week 5 against the Browns, he put up 406 yards passing and four touchdowns, while earning the win 33-16.
In Week 10, New England suffered a huge blow as tight end Rob Gronkowski injured his back, causing him to miss the remainder of the season. Gronkowski is Brady’s favorite passing target but Patriots wide receiver Julian Edelman and tight end Martellus Bennett stepped up for the task. Edelman leads the team in receiving yards with 1,106 while bringing in three touchdowns. Bennet follows next with 701 yards and seven touchdowns.
Ending the season with 11-5 overall record, Atlanta, just like New England, won their playoffs be a wide margin. They defeated the Seahawks, 36-20, and the Green Bay Packers, 44-21. The Atlanta Falcons, who have only made it to the Super Bowl twice in their franchise, have yet to win a championship. Their first appearance came in Super Bowl XXXIII (33) in 1999, but the Denver Broncos came away with the win defeating the Falcons, 39-19.
After losing the first game of the season to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, 31-24, the Atlanta Falcons bounced back to win their next four games. Two of the four games were against Super Bowl XLIX (50) contenders; the Broncos and Seahawks. However, following the next seven games, Atlanta went 3-4, making their overall record 7-5. Falcons were still on route to makes the playoffs, despite ranking fourth in the NFC. With only four games remaining in the season, Atlanta found a boost and won all their games, giving them the second seed in the playoffs.
Offensively, Falcons have the number one offense as they average 415 yards per game. The offense is led by quarterback Matt Ryan. He is second in the league with 4,944 yards of passing and has thrown 38 touchdown passes. Ryan’s number one receiver is Julio Jones who has earned 1,409 yards receiving, which ranks second in the NFL. The passing game is not the only threat Atlanta has, but the running game as well; they rank in third with 4,725 rushing yards and are tied in second with 38 rushing touchdowns. Running back Devonte Freemans carries the team with 1,079 yards rushing, which is ninth in the league, and holds eleven touchdowns.
Super Bowl LI with be shown live on Fox with kickoff at 4:30 p.m. Mountain Time.