The NFL season closes on Sunday with Super Bowl 51 in what should be a pretty entertaining game. This is the highest O/U in Super Bowl history and there should be no shortage of action as these teams battle it out. I’ve got a play on the side and some props that hopefully put some money in our pockets as the season ends. Here we go….
Falcons (+3): To me this one pretty much comes down to roster vs. coaching and I’m going with the better roster. The Falcons have better players than the Patriots in my opinion. They have more firepower, more weapons, and more depth. The Patriots have arguably the best coach and best QB in the history of the league. As great as Brady and the hoodie are, I can’t pass up the better roster and getting a FG in my back pocket. Matt Ryan is a surgeon right now. He knows exactly where he’s going with the ball on each play and it’s to the point he could run this offense in his sleep. He’s going to be your 2016 MVP and his stats this year were just off the charts. It’s not just all Ryan though, the guy has quite an assortment of weapons to work with. Julio Jones for my money is the best WR on the planet (Sorry Odell and Antonio) and he provides a matchup nightmare for the Pats here. Of course Bellichick is going to try to neutralize Julio as he’s known for taking away option A on the other team. If he does that on Sunday the other Falcons could really do some damage. Mohamed Sanu is a veteran capable of making big plays (just ask Green Bay) and slot WR Taylor Gabriel is a very explosive option who has built up an excellent groove with Matty Ice over the 2nd half of the season. The Falcons also have the best RB duo in the league with Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman. To me these are two of the top 15 backs in the league and both can do it all. They can both run, block, and are dangerous catching passes out of the backfield. Those two basically being interchangeable gives the Falcons the luxury of having a fresh, stud RB in there on every single play. If one is winded they can go to the other without losing anything at all. There’s just so much you have to account for when dealing with this Atlanta offense and to put it most simply nobody has had any success stopping them. Too many weapons, too good of a scheme, too good of play calling, too smart of a QB, on and on and on. Now of course New England gets to play offense too and there’s no denying that Brady is going to get his. What I expect from Atlanta is to rush 4, drop 7, and try to complicate things for Brady. As a team the Pats only averaged 3.9 yards per carry rushing this season and right now they are just an RB by committee team with Blount, Lewis and White. All of which are decent players but none at the level of a Freeman or Coleman on the other end. I think Atlanta can create pressure by only rushing 4 with Beasley coming off the edge and perhaps forcing Brady into Grady Jarrett who is a very strong interior pass rusher. If the Falcons can create pressure with 4, and contain the Pats run game with 4, life gets a lot tougher for Brady. Now I’m not saying the Falcons are going to shut Brady and company down, but if they hold them to 24 points or so that should be good enough to win. I’ll go with 31-24 Falcons as my prediction.
Now for the props I’ll be playing…
Julio Jones Un 94.5 Receiving Yards (+110): This one is all about Bellichick. He’s proven time after time that if he wants to take away (or at least slow down) your number one option he’s going to do it. Julio is great, as I mentioned in my write up I think he’s the best WR in the NFL, but the hoodie knows all that too. Julio will be dealing with double coverage all night and they’ll make others beat them. I went with the Yards under instead of the receptions under because if frustrated it’s possible they hit Julio with some screens and hitches to try and get him going. So he could have some catches of 3-4 yards.
Mohamed Sanu Ov 45.5 Receiving Yards (-130): Due to all that attention I expect Julio to get things should open up nicely for Sanu. Sanu isn’t terribly tall, he isn’t terribly fast, he’s just a saavy veteran who knows how to play and knows his role on this team. I can see him with a 6 catch, 68 yard kind of game.
Taylor Gabriel Ov 50.5 Receiving Yards (+105): Same deal for Gabriel here who will be working the slot most of the night. In the 2nd half of season he and Ryan really started building a nice chemistry together. If Julio is bottled up Matty Ice fully trusts Gabriel and it won’t surprise me a bit if he ends up making 2 or 3 big plays on Sunday.
LeGarrette Blount Un 14.5 Rushing Attempts (-105): It feels like little by little Blount is falling out of favor with the hoodie. In and up and down game like this I think he could get the short end of the stick with the Pats instead opting to use backs like White and Lewis who are solid in the passing game. Blount is pretty one dimensional and I just don’t like this matchup for him. I think he could end up on the sidelines for much of the 2nd half.
Tom Brady Ov 39 Pass Attempts (-110): This is the kind of game where I think Brady ends up chucking it all night. If the game shakes out as I expect (with the Falcons leading in the 4th quarter) then it really becomes pass mode for the Pats. As you can tell these props are all somewhat correlated. If Blount is abandoned as I expect it’ll lead to more passes from Brady. Plus I think the Pats could throw a bunch of hitches and screens to guys like Edelman and Mitchell that are basically an extension of the running game, but statistically still pass attempts.