With Super Bowl LI just days away, the reminders that two weeks off is too long are all over sports talk radio.
Recycled filler topics have filled the airwaves coast-to-coast and some radio hosts have even resorted to discussing why the Super Bowl doesn’t seem to be buzz-worthy. Think about that for a second…the Super Bowl isn’t buzz-worthy.
Maybe it’s because we’ve taken sports talk radio so far away from actually talking about games, or maybe it’s just laziness.
On one side of this game you have the New England Patriots on the brink of history. Sure a fifth Lombardi Trophy for the franchise isn’t historic, but a fifth for Bill Belichick and Tom Brady is. A win on Sunday would be the cherry on top of the sundae of greatness for this duo and would cement their place atop the NFL “greatest of all time” mountain.
On the other side, you have the number one scoring offense in the league with a quarterback in Matt Ryan who was, until now, hit with the “can’t win the big one” label. Well, in a very Steve Young-like fashion, he may get that monkey off of his back. Making the Super Bowl clears one hurdle for Ryan, but winning the Super Bowl (as Young did in 1995) would erase that label forever.
A win would also give the Atlanta Falcons their very first Super Bowl Championship in franchise history.
So either way you look at it, this Super Bowl is shrouded in historical relevance and the match-up is extremely buzz-worthy.
You’re matching up the number one scoring offense against the number one scoring defense. You have two great quarterbacks going head to head with the probably MVP in Ryan and the “GOAT” in Brady.
If you’re a Patriots fan, or at least just indifferent to them, it’s almost even more interesting.
This Super Bowl almost mirrors the Patriots 2003 Super Bowl run. ESPN had a graphic about this last week showing that New England’s first loss in both years was a shutout loss to the Buffalo Bills, the last time they trailed in a game was Week 10, they are 16-2 heading into the Super Bowl again AND they are playing the 13-5 NFC South Champions (Panthers in 2003).
Beyond the striking similarities to what was a fantastic Super Bowl in February of 2004, there’s another very interesting twist to this football game. The Patriots are not the offensive juggernaut that will have to be stopped…the Falcons are.
This game is almost the reverse of the Super Bowl XLII when the Patriots set almost every regular season offensive record and entered the big game 18-0. In that game it took an outstanding defensive performance from the New York Giants to stop Brady and the gang from getting their fourth ring.
Well, the Falcons offense isn’t quite as prolific as that Patriots offense was in 2007, but Matt Ryan has been almost as good as Brady was that year (outside of TDs) and with Julio Jones and the rest of his offensive weapons, it’s going to take a spectacular defensive performance by the Patriots to even slow down Atlanta, let alone stop them.
As many have said, it’s hard to pick against Belichick and the Patriots in games like this, but we know full well that you would have been wise to do so on two separate occasions. So the question is, will this be the third?
Superfan Mike Venditti says “no way, Pats roll,” but Ditti the sports writer/broadcaster/analyst says…”man, I don’t know.” I’ve caught a lot of grief from random Patriots fans here in Greenville that have yelled “Go Pats” at me upon seeing my hat because when we talk about the game, I express my concerns.
I know the Patriots defense has been stellar for the second half of the season…but I also remember seeing Ryan Tannehill light them up in the second half early in the season. Matt Ryan is a bit better than Tannehill. Then there’s the flip-side…the Falcons lost to the Chargers, a team that is nowhere near as good as the Patriots.
Since I have to take a stance…I guess I will do it now, but I’m going to do it two different ways.
- Superfan Mike pick: Pats roll 38-17
- Ditti pick: Could go either way, but I’ll take the Patriots 24-21 in a nail biter that ends on a long Stephen Gostkowski field goal, redeeming himself for the misses in last year’s AFC Title game.
There you have it…either way, I’m taking New England. If they lose, I’ll be far from upset. I shelter no hatred for the Falcons, I am cool with their fans and it’d be fun to see this region celebrate a second championship in so many months.
But have no doubt…I’ll be cheering hard for my Patriots!
Enjoy the game everybody…and prepare for history.
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