The New England Patriots and Atlanta Falcons will be kicking off Super Bowl LI on Sunday at 6:30pm EST in Houston, Texas. The game will be televised on FOX and Lady Gaga will entertain for the halftime show.
After a somewhat boring postseason so far, this is the game we’ve been waiting for.
Finishing with the league’s best regular season record despite missing quarterback Tom Brady for four games, the New England Patriots, for better or worse, were the NFL’s most talked about team. Deflategate put a target on the team’s back, but the Patriots responded with a 14-2 season, finishing in the top four in total yardage and yardage allowed. One of the two losses came with third-string quarterback Jacoby Brissett taking snaps after backup Jimmy Garoppolo went down to injury.
The Patriots also found tremendous success without tight end Rob Gronkowski for half of the season and the entire playoffs. He had back surgery in early December and was placed on the injured reserve list. Martellus Bennett picked up in his place with 701 yards receiving and seven touchdowns.
The Atlanta Falcons finished 11-5, but they had the second-highest point differential to the Patriots through the regular season thanks to their 33.8 points per game. That’s the seventh-most in NFL history. All five Falcons losses were by a combined 22 points. Meanwhile, eight wins were by double digits.
The Falcons’ offense and defense were both on full display as they took the NFC Championship with a commanding 44-21 win over the Green Bay Packers, holding Aaron Rodgers’ team scoreless for the entire first half.
On the season, quarterback Matt Ryan was MVP level with 38 touchdowns to seven interceptions and a 70 percent completion percentage. Devonta Freeman rushed for 1,079 yards and 11 touchdowns, and Julio Jones was his usual self with 83 receptions for 1,409 yards and six touchdowns. Offensively, this team is dynamic.
Historically only one of these teams has found postseason success. While the Patriots have won four Super Bowls in the Tom Brady era, the Falcons haven’t won one — ever. They’ve only made the Super Bowl one other time, in 1999, where they fell to the Denver Broncos, 33-19.
Brady’s chase for ring No. 5 has doesn’t have to do with avenging the highly controversial Deflategate decision. The 39-year-old is just motivated by his teammates. Will it be enough?
Our SB Nation experts think the Falcons will bring home the city’s first Lombardi trophy. Only 27 percent of America will be rooting for the opposite.
How to watch
When: Sunday, February 5, 6:30 p.m. ET
Where: NRG Stadium, Houston, Texas
Announcers: Joe Buck, Troy Aikman, Erin Andrews
Online: Fox Sports Go