THE long wait between the Conference Championships and the Super Bowl is a testing times for fans, but Super Bowl LI betting markets provide the perfect distraction until kick-off.
The New England Patriots take on the Atlanta Falcons on Sunday, February 5 at 6.30pm with NRG Stadium at Houston the arena for the NFL’s biggest stage.
Bookmakers have opened the Patriots as the -161 favorites after its win against the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Patriots’ coaching staff quickly moved on to scouting the Falcons after the win.
“We’re on to Atlanta now as a coaching staff. We’re deep in the middle of them,” Patriots coach Bill Belichick said.
The Falcons have been firing on the offensive front all season, ranking first in the NFL offensive ranks, and Belichick was quick to point out the wide array of speed the Falcons possess across the field.
“The thing that I would notice the most is just the speed, the team speed at that Falcons have. They have a lot of fast guys,” Belichick said.
“Defensively they close up space very quickly. Their linebackers run well. Their defensive line, although they have a couple big, strong, physical guys in there, overall they have usually nine or 10 players on the field that I would say are fast.
“They are either as fast or faster than probably what the average speed of their position is in the league. I’d say that’s the big stamp that he’s put on the team.”
The Falcons head into Super Bowl LI as the +136 underdog at Bovada.lv, which is simply bookmakers respecting the playoff experience of Tom Brady and his Patriot teammates.
Atlanta has plenty of positives heading into this game, which includes wide receiver Julio Jones, who became the first player in NFL history to record a season 150-yard, two touchdown game in the postseason.
Falcons coach Dan Quinn was impressed with what Jones showed in Sunday’s romp against the Green Bay Packers.
“I knew he’d play well. I could tell on Friday his intent was right,” Quinn said.
“The type of competitor that he is – so I thought he played well. I thought he played one of his best games. It’s away from the ball that sometimes you don’t see.
“We see him when he catches it, but there’s other times where he’s away from the ball, the way he’s trying to go get his block, the way he’s trying to run his route when the ball may go somewhere else when he’s double-teamed to his side.
“I think it’s the intent that he brings to the game. Yeah, I was very impressed yesterday (Sunday).”
Falcons not just happy to be there
Bettors have been burnt in past by betting on teams that are just happy to be at the Super Bowl, but the Atlanta Falcons are the real deal and it’s not a team full of upstarts.
Quarterback Matt Ryan isn’t a new kid on the block anymore and he’s desperate to pad his career with a Super Bowl victory.
It won’t come easy going up against the Patriots defense, which has largely been underrated this season, but the Falcons believe it’s their defense which has been firing, especially after limiting the Packers to only 21 points.
“Just having that versatility, guys who can play defensive end, defensive tackle (is important). And anytime you play good quarterbacks, you better have enough rushers to keep going, keep changing, because you’ve got to keep attacking,” Quinn said.
“And I was very pleased for those guys. Defensively overall, the effort, the strain, the communication, they did a very good job.”
Quinn is keeping his team focused ahead of the Super Bowl and whilst he’s happy to have the opportunity, he’s not seeing it as a reward.
“We know that this game… gives us a chance at the next opportunity, so that’s what I wanted our team to feel like. And it did, where the game, going in the Super Bowl is not the reward,” Quinn said.
“It’s playing really well and winning. So we’re going to have a hell of a challenge and have to battle for it. But they knew, when you win that one, you have a chance and an opportunity that comes next.
“That’s what I hoped I’d feel from our team and I did.”
Chris Hogan’s recipe for success
The story of Chris Hogan continues to develop and he will enter the Super Bowl with an incredible Conference Finals game under his belt.
The Patriots receiver had nine catches for 180 yards and two touchdowns – which was a record-setting performance.
Hogan didn’t have the typical entrance into the NFL, which is what makes his story so incredible. The young receiver was an all-conference lacrosse player at Penn State before playing only one season of college football at Monmouth.
He was undrafted heading into the NFL, but the Patriots picked up him, much like they did when Tom Brady went at pick #299 in 2000. Bill Belichick, who also has a love for lacrosse, doesn’t believe the skills between the two games carry over.
“I don’t know about that,” Belichick said. “I’d say the one thing that Chris does well and maybe is related to lacrosse is just his conditioning. He’s in good condition. He runs a lot of deep routes. He has real good stamina. He can keep going.
“So that’s probably some carryover there, but the skills are pretty different.”
The reason why Hogan has been so successful on Sunday against the Steelers? Hogan averaged four yards of separation on his 12 targets on Sunday night, which pays credit to his quick acceleration skills needed to play lacrosse.
Hogan will likely play a big part in the Super Bowl and is a player to watch in the as the +136 underdog at Bovada.lvfirst touchdown markets at +1800