History Will Be Made Regardless Of Super Bowl LI Winner
The 2016 NFL season comes to an end this Sunday at Super Bowl LI as the AFC champion New England Patriots face the NFC champion Atlanta Falcons. The Patriots are 3-point favorites on BetOnline NFL odds with a total of 58.5 that’s the highest number in Super Bowl history. No matter the winner of the game in Houston, history will be made.
Considering LeBron James delivered the city of Cleveland its first-ever NBA championship last June in that upset of the Golden State Warriors, perhaps no major U.S. city with multiple sports franchises is more title-starved than Atlanta (OK, maybe Minneapolis/St. Paul and Washington, D.C., but work with me here; plus Atlanta lost its NHL team). The Hawks have never even reached the NBA Finals since moving from St. Louis, and they certainly aren’t going to this spring. The Braves were division champions in every full Major League Baseball season from 1991-2005 but won just a lone World Series in 1995.
The Braves’ last trip to the Fall Classic was in 1999, which also happened to be the year the Falcons played in their only Super Bowl. It was actually the 1998 Atlanta team and it lost on Jan. 31, 1999, in SB XXXIII 34-19 to the Broncos in Hall of Famer John Elway’s final game for Denver.
So while the Falcons look for their first NFL title, New England’s Tom Brady and Bill Belichick, both future Hall of Famers, are trying to become the first quarterback and coach, respectively, to win five Super Bowl rings. Brady is tied with his childhood idol, Joe Montana, along with Pittsburgh’s Terry Bradshaw with four rings, while Belichick is even with former Steelers coach Chuck Noll on four. This is the sixth straight Super Bowl appearance in which the Patriots opened as favorites.
Brady could also break a tie with Montana for another record: Super Bowl MVP Awards. The two have three each, and Brady is the -110 favorite for Sunday’s game, followed by Atlanta quarterback Matt Ryan at +200. QBs have won the MVP Award 27 times overall and in five of the past seven years.
Two years ago in a 28-24 win over Seattle in SB XLIX, Brady threw for 328 yards and four touchdowns against a stellar Seahawks defense. That Seahawks group was coordinated by Dan Quinn in what was his final game there. The next day, Quinn was hired as the Atlanta head coach. So while few Falcons have Super Bowl experience, Quinn has been in the big game twice, with his defense dominating the NFL’s No. 1 scoring offense in Super Bowl XLVIII, a 43-8 Seattle win over Denver.
That Seahawks-Broncos matchup was the last time the No. 1 scoring offense faced the No. 1 scoring defense in the Super Bowl, which is the case Sunday. Behind likely NFL MVP Matt Ryan, the Falcons averaged 33.8 points per game in the regular season, 4.5 more than the No. 2 team (Patriots were third at 27.6 ppg). New England allowed a league-low 15.6 points per game, 2.2 better than the No. 2 team (Falcons were 27th at 25.4 ppg). Overall, a top-rated defense has gone 5-1 against the No. 1 offense in Super Bowl history. That said, BetOnline’s favored total points for this game is 71 or more at +350.
So that 5-1 top defense record bodes well for the Patriots. As does the fact they will be wearing white jerseys. The Falcons are the home team and thus had the decision of jersey color and chose their home red even though teams in white jerseys have won 11 of the past 12 Super Bowls.
New England also can tie betting history in the game should it cover the spread as it has covered 15 games against the spread this season. The 1989 San Francisco 49ers won the Super Bowl and finished with 16 ATS victories. The quarterback of that team? Montana, the guy whose Super Bowl records Brady looks to break in Houston.