I have long considered the Super Bowl a difficult game to bet on. During a normal NFL Sunday, there are 16 games to choose from, and you need an advantage in just one to focus your efforts and make a killing. On Sunday, there is just one contest, and everyone is keyed in on it. The spread and over/under have been carefully put together.
That said, in a game that features two of the best offenses in the league, who is likely to score more points?
During the regular season the Patriots tallied 27.4 points a game, third in the NFL. They put up 34 and 36 points in playoff victories over the Texans and Steelers. Their point total could be even higher, but New England was shutout in Week 4 against Buffalo when both Tom Brady and Jimmy Garoppolo were out. Even without Brady for the first four weeks, counting Garoppolo and Jacoby Brissett’s stats, the Pats were the fourth best passing team in the league this year.
During the postseason, Brady has five touchdown tosses and 671 passing yards over two games. New England was seventh during the regular season in rushing yards. LeGarrette Blount gained 1,161 yards on the ground. However, he has been limited to 78 yards on 24 carries in the postseason. The Patriots only other ball carrier, Dion Lewis (19 carries for 52 yards), has not had any better success this playoff season.
Atlanta’s offense tallied a league high 33.8 points a game this year. From Week 1 when they scored 38 against the Saints, to a pair of playoff games where the Falcons managed 36 and 44 points, they have been a tough unit to handle. Atlanta was third in the NFL in passing yards at just over 295 per contest.
Quarterback Matt Ryan is the likely MVP of the league this year. Ryan threw for 4,944 yards, and in the playoffs, has completed over 70-percent of his passes for 730 yards, seven touchdowns, and no interceptions.
Unlike New England, the Falcons have one of the best receivers in the NFL with Julio Jones for Ryan to work with, and their running game is a two-headed monster. A tandem Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman helped the Falcons put together the fifth best rushing unit in the league, tallying 120.5 yards a game. Between the duo, they had 19 touchdowns, and over 1,600 yards, with just one fumble lost. During the playoffs though, Atlanta’s running game has been slowed somewhat. Freeman has 28 postseason carries for 87 yards and one score, while Coleman has 22 rushes for 86 yards and one touchdown.
Obviously, part of an offense’s success depends upon how stout the defense is. New England allowed the fewest points in the NFL during the regular season. They were third against the run, and 12th versus the pass. Atlanta was 27th in the league yielding 25.4 points a game. The Falcons were 17th against the run and 28th defending the pass. During the postseason the Pats have given up 33 points, while the Falcons have yielded 41.
The Falcons have the slightly better offense, but will find New England a tougher team to score against than most of their opponents thus far. Both teams are able to run and pass, though more consistent in the air. The teams tied for an NFL low 11 turnovers each during the regular season. It seems somewhat more likely the Pats can get stops, so while Atlanta has the better overall offense, it is a pretty good guess that New England will have the easier time tallying.
If going on offense, bet on the Pats.
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