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The full Super Bowl preview will take place at Just the Stats Headquarters next week; for now, we’ll break down how we got here and what this means for the New England Patriots and Atlanta Falcons in Super Bowl 51.
How the Patriots Got Here
The Lamar Hunt trophy may need to be renamed soon. As the New England Patriots reached their record ninth Super Bowl with a 37-18 victory over the Pittsburgh Steelers in the AFC Championship game, Bill Belichick and Tom Brady are playing in the final game of the season for a record seventh time. With a Super Bowl win, the Patriots will have won their 17th game of the season, marking the 12th time in history a team has won 17+ games in a year (regular season and playoffs). They would be the 4th Patriots team to do so (2003, 2004, 2007). Only one other franchise appears more than once on this list.
How the Falcons Got Here
The Atlanta Falcons closed the Georgia Dome in style, riding a 44-21 victory over the Green Bay Packers to the NFC Championship. Last week, we talked about turnovers being the key for Green Bay. The Packers finished the day -2 in turnover ratio, and with the Falcons leading at halftime 24-0, the hill was too high to climb for Green Bay. Matt Ryan did Matt Ryan things, as his 139.4 passer rating set a Falcons playoff record, and his favorite target was Julio Jones, who became the only player since 1950 with multiple playoff games of 180+ receiving yards and 2 TD.
Early Thoughts on Super Bowl 51
We’ll save the official prediction for next week, so here are some other thoughts on the 51st Super Bowl:
- The Patriots open as 3-point favorites, marking the sixth-consecutive Super Bowl that they are not the underdog. They were favored in Super Bowls 38, 39, 42, and 46, and were at a pick-em against the Seattle Seahawks in Super Bowl 49.
- The initial over/under of 58 would be the highest in Super Bowl history. The previous mark was 57 in Super Bowl 44 between the Indianapolis Colts and New Orleans Saints.
- Super Bowl 51 pits the league’s top scoring offense (Atlanta, 540 points for) against the league’s top scoring defense (New England, 250 points allowed). We’re certainly in for a good one.
Matt Tardiff is the resident stathead at ChinMusicPod.com, and thinks he did a pretty good job of not revealing that he’s predicting a 27-22 Patriots victory in the Super Bowl. Check out @StatTardiff on Twitter for Super Bowl facts over the next two weeks. As always, check back next Tuesday for more stats.