Super Bowl LI Preview

AFC, American Football, Blog, Championship, NFC, NFL, NFLUK, Playoffs, Postseason, preview, Super Bowl, Super Bowl 51, Uncategorized

Hello World,

It’s Super Bowl week, Atlanta vs New England, Falcons vs Patriots, Quinn vs Belichick and Ryan vs Brady. This is the 7th Super Bowl since 2000 for Belichick and Brady, whereas it is Atlanta’s second ever with their first coming in 1998 where they were dismantled by John Elway and the Broncos. Super Bowl 50 averaged 111.9 million viewers so even more this year, even if Lady Gaga is performing at halftime. Here is my preview for THE game of the year.

The Atlanta Falcons have been an offensive superpower this season. It has been incredible to watch, they have put up over 40 points in 6 different games this season, scoring a mesmeric 540 points tied for the 2000 Rams lead by now Hall of Famer Kurt Warner. Their quarterback, Matt Ryan was 1st team All-Pro and both Offensive Player of the year as well as league MVP. He has been the best quarterback to play every game this season. He has the number one quarterback rating in the league with 83.3, he has the second most touchdowns with 38 and passing yards with 4,944 and the third highest completion percentage with 69.9%. You feel like this type of season has been a long time coming for Ryan who came into the league in 2008 taken with the 3rd overall pick from Boston College. In his first season he lead the Falcons to an 11-5 record winning offensive rookie of the year then in 2012 they got all the way to the NFC Championship game but choked away a 17 point lead against the 49ers, so see him now reach the Super Bowl is reward for not only Atlanta fans but for the neutrals as well.

Ryan has powered the most explosive offensive this season due to the shrewd free agency work of Thomas Dimitroff and Scott Pioli such as Alex Mack at centre (second team All-Pro), Mohammed Sanu and Taylor Gabriel both with 6 touchdowns each this year. As well as the explosion of both Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman the best running back duo in the league with a combined 2,482 yards from scrimmage (rushing and receiving) this year the best in the league. Now by having all of these players it has given Ryan more time and more option to spread the ball around and take the pressure off Julio Jones one of the best wide receivers in the league. He has been incredible this year with another Pro Bowl and first-team All-Pro selection, 1,452 yards and 6 touchdowns. He added another record to his collection with 300 yards receiving in ONE game. That is one game that shows everyone what an extraordinary talent he is.

Atlanta has also benefited hugely from a very successful couple of drafts with rookie players this year such as Deion Jones, Keanu Neil, Austin Hooper and DeVondre Campbell all making significant impacts on both sides of the ball. Linebacker Deion Jones was nominated for Defensive Rookie of the Year with 108 tackles and safety Keanu Neil with 106 tackles as well. Vic Beasley jr seemed like a shadow of his college self in hiss rookie campaign with only 4 sacks but into his second year he has exploded to 15.5 sacks to win the Deacon Jones award and he reached his first All-Pro and Pro Bowl selection. With Ryan’s astounding offensive season it has given Atlanta very fast and big leads in games which have forced the opposing team to completely scrap their running game and be forced to throw on the Falcons. This has allowed them to play much more deep zone coverage as they don’t have to stack the box to stop the run. This has allowed the defence to get to the ball and force turnovers, something they will need in order to beat the Patriots.

The New England Patriots started this season without their starting quarterback Tom Brady and went 3-1 with a shutout of the Texans put in there for good measure. Since Brady returned from his suspension of the first four games of the season for his part in Deflategate. Brady returned in week 5 and the Patriots have only lost one game since this is down to Brady throwing 28 touchdowns to only 2 interceptions for 3,554 yards and owning an 112.2 passer rating. He has been incredible this season especially with the injury to Tight End Rob Gronkowski in the middle of the season eliminating Brady’s only All-Pro receiver. Brady has been unstoppable this year aged 39, he has much better pocket awareness than he did about 4 years ago and his arm doesn’t seem to be wilting like Peyton Manning’s did last season. Like Manning did last year, Brady is hoping to win the Super Bowl and if he does it will put him in my eyes as the greatest quarterback of all time because he will have 5 super bowl rings compared to Montana and Bradshaw’s 4 rings. We know that this is familiar territory for Brady as this is his 7th Super Bowl so you can expect a calm man stepping out onto that field looking for his chance to become immortal in Super Bowl history.

As I mentioned earlier the Falcons have also built their success around their joy in free agency and trades, so have the Patriots with such players as Chris Hogan, Martellus Bennett and Chris Long all becoming major factors for this New England team. The Patriots have statistically the number one ranked defence in the entire league. With such players as Dont’a Hightower, Malcolm Butler and Devin McCourtey providing Belichick with the backbone of a team, with a difficult task in the Super Bowl to stop the plethora of offensive weapons that Atlanta possesses. Now they did this very well against the Steelers in the AFC Championship game, where they double teamed Antonio Brown for large proportions of the game and forced Ben Roethlisberger to let his other receivers like Eli Rogers and Cobi Hamilton try to make a play, which they couldn’t. Now obviously the Patriots were helped out by a Le’Veon Bell injury in the game which limited him to 54 yards rushing. I feel like this Falcons team has too many weapons to enforce the same strategy again so it will be interesting to see how Belichick and defensive coordinator Matt Patrica try to slow down this offensive powerhouse.

In conclusion, I believe that this will be a high-scoring affair in Hoston with each team going over 30 points. But the experience and the combination of Brady and Belichick will find a way to get a win for their 5th super bowl as a duo. Also, bear in mind, the last player to win league MVP and the Super Bowl was Kurt Warner in 1999! As well as that with the Falcons owning the number one scoring offence and the Patriots the number one scoring defence. This has happened 6 times in Super Bowl history and the top-ranked scoring defence has a 5-1 record.

Final Score: Atlanta Falcons 31 – 38 New England Patriots

 

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Super Bowl 50 Preview

AFC, American Football, Blog, Championship, NFC, NFL, NFL UK, Playoffs, Postseason, preview, SB50, Super Bowl, Uncategorized

Hello World,

We have had a wonderful season. It has been mesmerizing, turbulent and gripping to say the least. We have had teams fall from grace and other rise up from the ashes to give their loyal fans some hope for years to come. But two teams have made it this far. The Denver Broncos and the Carolina Panthers.

Carolina Panthers

Wow! This has been a crazy season for the Panthers who have risen from above average with several issues, to being in the Super Bowl. Personally I didn’t have them very high in my Pre-Season predictions, only at 17th  This was mainly down to the fact that they had let their all-time rushing yards leader DeAngelo Williams leave in the off-season.  I didn’t attribute their position much to that because by then. Williams was fading away in the backfield and on the depth chart to Jonathan Stewart. But more to the point, their star rookie Wide Receiver Kelvin Benjamin suffered a torn ACL before the season and was lost for the year. This, in my eyes, gave the Panthers no actual, solid attacking prowess for the season. But I have been proven wrong, just as many other people have been, by Carolina’s offence emergence this season. They led the league in touchdowns and scoring! All of this with such players as Ted Ginn Jr, Devin Funchess and Jerricho Cotchery. These players contributed to one of the worst-ranked pre-season receiving cores in the league! But they, and especially Tight End Greg Olsen, have stepped up magnificently this season to put their names out to the rest of the league.

Cam Newton has been on fire this season. His 35 passing touchdowns and 10 rushing touchdowns have been the most celebrated points in the league, with Cam giving away every single football he’s scored with this season. I’d like to think it’s keeping the feel-good, laid-back aura around the team. But maybe Tom Brady should have done the same last season to keep the footballs from the officials… I agreed with many others that Cam Newton should be the league MVP, because he single-handedly led this offence all season, coming up with top notch performances and clutch throws whenever Carolina has needed them. He’s quite a polarizing player among the league and the fans mainly due to his extravagant celebrating ( dabbing has gone viral with even Hilary Clinton of all people learning how to dab ), his fickle nature with officials and media. But this season he has risen above all of that to put his name into the “elite” category of quarterbacks. His play has been wonderful along with his charisma. Both have been key to the Panthers getting to the Super Bowl because of course he has played well, but it’s his laid-back nature and ability to not let any errors from either himself or any of his teammates to stick in his mind that makes the difference. He just shakes it off and gets on with the next play; this allows his teammates to play happy and carefree, not having to worry about a mistake and in 17 out of 18 cases this season they have won so it’s obviously having a good effect.

Their defense this season has been the other element to propel them to the Super Bowl. This has been down to the combined brilliance of Star Linebacker Luke Kuechly, Defensive Tackles Kaawan Short and Star Lotulelei along with Cornerback Josh Norman, which has  brought this defense from 10th in total yards up to 6th in the league and from 13th in sacks to 6th. Having a defense this belligerent is a huge plus because in six of the past 13 Super Bowls, the winning team has been ranked between 15th and 19th offensively (2000 & 2012 Ravens, 2001 & 2003 Patriots, 2005 Steelers and 2007 Giants), and on three occasions over the same period, a #1 offense has lost to offensive units ranked 19th (2001 Patriots over Rams), 24th(2002 Buccaneers over Raiders) and 16th (2007 Giants over Patriots).

Denver Broncos 

This has been a very intriguing season for Denver who kept up with the Panthers till week 7 and then  lost surprisingly in Indianapolis to the Colts who ended up finishing 8-8. But it was versus the Vikings when Manning started a 6 game streak of finishing every game with more interceptions than touchdowns, that to the surprise of nearly any millennials, Peyton Manning, the supposed “best quarterback of his generation” in their eyes was dropped and surprisingly Osweiler came in to lead the Broncos to 6 wins and a playoff birth.  Manning came back in from a “Plantar Fasciitis” treatment which seemed to me to be quite a shifty move and a sly way to pull the wool over our eyes about his abject performance. To my astonishment, Manning, who had been so pitiful, came back in to start and has played well, not throwing an interception since his return in week 17. So their offence has relied on the run mostly from CJ Anderson with hints of Ronnie Hillman. This season they have played well enough to ease some of the pressure from either quarterback, so  versus Carolina they will have to play very well and give Manning a wider field to find his favorite targets.

To say that Denver’s defense has been suffocating would be an understatement. They are No. 1 in total defense (283.1 yards), No. 1 in pass defense (199.6), No. 1 in sacks (52), No. 3 against the run (83.6), No. 4 in scoring (18.5) and No. 3 in defensive touchdowns (5). Their defense is extremely similar to Carolina in the fact that in some positions, they have the best in the league such as Von Miller, DeMarcus Ware, Aquib Talib, Chris Harris and TJ Ward, who all apart from Ward were voted to the Pro Bowl which is incredible and Miller was voted All Pro. Watching them play the Patriots in the AFC Conference game, it was astonishing how quickly the D-Line (and it wasn’t just one or two but all of them) got off the line and instantly had pressure on Tom Brady. This might have been the poor quality of New England’s Line, but either way this is a frightening sight for Carolina and will have to rely I think on Cam Newton’s rushing ability to escape the seemingly eternal pressure from Ware and Miller.

Verdict

So in the end, I think that Denver’s defense will cement their legacy by managing a last- minute stand against Cam Newton, and give Denver their 3rd Super Bowl Victory and the ultimate send-off for Peyton and Ware. Age seems to be catching up with them so this might be their last chance to win a Super Bowl. But it will be a good game and Carolina will provide a solid performance but their quest for a super bowl will keep going on. I will be watching it all so I hope all of you enjoy it as much as I will!

Predicted score: Carolina 24 Denver 30