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Super Bowl for Dummies: How to Survive SB 51

Super Bowl for Dummies: How to Survive SB 51

On Sunday, February 5th, millions of people will gather to watch the Super Bowl; some in the comfort of their own homes, others at viewing parties, and others in sports bars around the world. This presents an interesting dilemma: people who love football and people who like football, commingling with people who wouldn’t know a cornerback from an offensive coordinator. If you’re the latter, relax – I’m not here to judge. I’m actually here to help you survive the big game. I’ll give you a quick and dirty breakdown of each team, their strengths and weaknesses, and my portable take on what each team needs to do in order to pull out a win. If you want to survive any conversation about football, I’d suggest taking a quick look at this.

Atlanta Falcons (11-5, top scoring offense in the NFL):

Head coach: Dan Quinn. His pedigree is defense. Before taking this position, he spent two years as defensive coordinator of the Seattle Seahawks, where he won one Super Bowl (defeated the Denver Broncos 43-8), and lost another (fell to the New England Patriots… you’ll hear about that one ad nauseam). Second year coaching the Falcons.

Offensive Coordinator: (Future Niners head coach) Kyle Shanahan. Has an extensive history of coaching offenses that get the ball down the field (previously worked in Houston, Washington, Cleveland). Interesting tidbit: Shanahan’s offenses haven’t exactly struggled to score on New England’s defenses in the past.

Defensive Coordinator: Richard Smith. Not likely you’ll hear much about him.

Strengths:

·      A multifaceted offense that can move the ball and score in a number of ways

o   Featured backs Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman excel at running the ball and catching passes as receivers

o   EVERYBODY on this offense can catch. Even the fullback, Patrick DiMarco – who can also be a devastating lead blocker

o   Mohamed Sanu and Taylor Gabriel are very capable second and third wide receivers

o   Quarterback Matt Ryan has been playing at an MVP level all season

o   Julio Jones. ‘Nuff said

·      Edge rushers Vic Beasley and Dwight Freeney, at their best, are nightmares

·      Offensive line play, featuring center Alex Mack

·      A very fast, very well-coached defense

Weaknesses:

·      Pass rush has been spotty without blitzing

·      Julio Jones isn’t at 100%

·      Statistically mediocre defense

·      They’re still the Falcons

New England Patriots (14-2, 3rd-ranked scoring offense, top scoring defense in the NFL):

Head Coach: Bill Belichick. His pedigree is defense. He’s been in New England forever, and is easily one of the greatest coaches of all time, despite being at the helm of a franchise that likes to cheat. Anyway, with a win, this will be his fifth title with the Patriots; sixteenth year with his team.

Offensive Coordinator: Josh McDaniels. Runs the passing offense that allows quarterback Tom Brady to get the ball out of his hands faster than pretty much every other quarterback in the game.

Defensive Coordinator: Matt Patricia. Runs the Patriots’ amorphous 3-4/4-3/867-5309 defense that likes to build its attack on exploiting the opposing offense’s weaknesses; whether that’s a gullible quarterback, a top-heavy receiving group, or a lack of playmakers on the ground.

Strengths:

·      A multifaceted offense that can move the ball and score in a number of ways

o   LeGarrette Blount, James White, and Dion Lewis bring lots of smash and dash to the Patriots’ run game. White and Lewis are capable runners, but do their best work catching the ball and playing in space

o   Julian Edelman is pretty decent at football

o   Chris Hogan has been doing a lot of damage as a deep threat

o   Tom Brady (regardless of his fuckboy status) is seemingly ageless and playing some of the best football of his career

o   Martellus Bennett, despite injuries, is playing well as an all-around TE in this offense

·      A generally disciplined, well-coached defense

·      Offensive line play has been much improved over last season

Weaknesses

·      Pass rush has been virtually nonexistent without blitzing

·      Lack of depth at cornerback

So, for the Falcons to conclude Super Bowl 51 with a win, I would look for them to do some of the following:

SCORE EARLY AND OFTEN: This Falcons’ offense is, obviously electric. What will be important is for this team to come out of the gate turning possessions into points, as New England is definitely capable of holding its own in a shootout. Atlanta’s defense has been very good at not allowing teams to put up huge numbers outside of garbage time, but in this matchup, it may not matter. The Patriots will definitely take an aggressive approach to defending Julio Jones – I’d expect double-teams in man coverage at a minimum. It will be on second and third wideouts Mohamed Sanu and Taylor Gabriel to make them pay for this. Of course, the run game will matter here too. Atlanta would be wise to get Freeman and Coleman going from jump, as I get the feeling that whoever gets their running backs to produce the most, will win the game. Look for a lot of runs, and look for even more play action (throws initially disguised as runs).

PLAY PHYSICAL DEFENSE: Here it is, plain, and simple; hit the fuck outta them on defense. Tom Brady doesn’t like getting hit, and he especially doesn’t like getting pressure up the middle of the offensive line. But who does? Hit Brady, hit his receivers, and hit the running backs. Hard. Game plans are everything, but nothing disrupts even the best-laid plans like getting punched squarely in the mouth. Strong safety Keanu Neal having the best game of his life separating receivers from the ball would be very welcome.

Bonus – Watch out for the trick plays: Julian Edelman has a background at the quarterback position, and if him throwing the ball once or twice will distract the defense, McDaniels will certainly call it up.

Now, for the Patriots to conclude Super Bowl 51 with a win, I would look for them to do some of the following:

PROTECT THE QUARTERBACK: You want to keep Tom Brady clean. If he stays clean and gets time to throw on the regular, the Patriots will likely run that Falcons defense through a wood chipper. This won’t be a cakewalk – Atlanta’s defense plays fast, fast, fast. They like to hit, too; if they start lighting Brady up like a Christmas tree early? This game will be tough.

STYMIE THE RUNNING BACKS: Note how I didn’t say, “stop the run game.” If New England can somehow stop Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman from getting big yards on the ground, they’re still a petrifying pair when it comes to catching passes from Matt Ryan; if New England wants to win? They will find a way to shut these backs down completely. This is easier said than done, though; Tevin Coleman is a nasty little thing out of the slot and down the field.

Bonus – Pressure the quarterback: Again, New England’s pass rush is shockingly mediocre without blitzing. Matt Ryan is Madden on rookie with a clean pocket. If New England can’t solve this, they will probably lose; by a lot.

This should be a great game. Hopefully, by writing this, I can make life a bit easier for the casual fan out there that’s struggling to hold their own with game conversations. Or the fan that got a little too drunk a little too soon and forgot exactly what they wanted to talk about. Either way, it’s the Super Bowl. Enjoy yourselves. Peace!

Pats Nation: Super Bowl 51 vs. Falcons Prediction

Pats Nation: Super Bowl 51 vs. Falcons Prediction

Kevin A. Lewis' Super Bowl 51 Prediction

Kevin A. Lewis' Super Bowl 51 Prediction