When the NFL schedule is released each April, just about every sports-related site in the USA and Canada releases a Top 10 games to watch for the coming year. No. 1 on pretty much all of those for 2017 was a Super Bowl LI rematch between the Falcons and Patriots. It has arrived!
Atlanta Falcons vs. New England Patriots
When: Sunday, 8:30 PM ET
Where: Gillette Stadium, Foxboro, Mass.
Point Spread: Patriots -3
Point Spread and Betting Analysis
Super Bowl rematches the following season are somewhat rare because interconference divisional matchups rotate every year. For example, this season the Patriots’ AFC East plays the Falcons’ NFC South. That wouldn’t happen again until 2021 – so this could be the final time that Tom Brady ever faces the Falcons. It’s the second straight year of a Super Bowl rematch, however. In SB 50, the Broncos upset the Panthers 24-10. The teams opened the 2016 season in Denver, and the Broncos won 21-20.
On Feb. 5 in Houston, New England was a 3-point favourite but trailed Atlanta 28-3 late in the third quarter. Game over, right? Brady led one of the greatest comebacks in sports history and the biggest in Super Bowl annals as the Pats won 34-28 in overtime – the first-ever OT in a Super Bowl. New England converted two 2-point conversions in the fourth quarter, including after James White’s 1-yard TD run pulled the Pats to 28-26 with under a minute in regulation. White won the game with a 2-yard run in overtime as Atlanta never got possession. Brady won his record fourth Super Bowl MVP (and fifth ring), throwing for 466 yards and two scores.
This will be a homecoming of sorts for Falcons QB and reigning NFL MVP Matt Ryan (17-for-23 for 284 yards and two scores in the Super Bowl) as he starred collegiately at Boston College. Atlanta (3-2 SU, 2-3 ATS) came out of its bye week and laid an egg Sunday, losing 20-17 at home to Miami as two-touchdown favourites. The Falcons were up 17-0 at halftime. They should be glad they aren’t in the AFC East apparently as they also lost before the bye at home to Buffalo, 23-17.
Against Miami, the Falcons were in field-goal range in the final minute but Ryan was intercepted on first-and-10. Ryan now has five career losses (including playoffs) in which his team led by 17 or more points. Since he entered the league nine years ago, no other quarterback has more than three such losses.
New England Patriots
The Patriots (4-2 SU, 2-4 ATS) fell behind 14-0 at the Jets on Sunday but rallied for a 24-17 victory. It was New England’s first time trailing by at least 14 points in the first half since early in the 2014 season. Brady threw for 257 yards and two scores – both to Rob Gronkowski — and set a league record with his 187th regular-season victory. He had been tied for the mark with Peyton Manning and Brett Favre.
Brady is 4-0 in his regular-season career against the Falcons, completing 67.2 percent of his passes for nearly 1,200 yards with nine touchdowns and just one interception.
Falcons vs. Patriots Prediction
Almost the same score as the Super Bowl: New England 35, Atlanta 30.