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Patriots and Dirty Birds: An early look at Super Bowl 51

Getting an early look at Super Bowl 51, there are many reasons to root for both teams in the big game.

No one saw this run coming from the Atlanta Falcons. At 11-5 overall, the Falcons ran away with the NFC South title with the help of the highest scoring offense in the NFL, averaging 34 points per game. The Falcons have the probable NFL MVP in quarterback Matt Ryan, who passed for 4,944 yards on the season with 38 touchdowns and only seven interceptions on the season. The “Dirty Birds” also have arguably the best wide receiver in the NFL in Julio Jones.

With explosive players at every position on offense and a young and improving defense, the Falcons have become the darling team to root for this NFL season.

Not to mention, the city of Atlanta hasn’t won a professional sports championship since the Braves in 1995. The city isn’t cursed, but it’s pretty close.

The New England Patriots are the team that everyone loves to hate, only if you live outside the New England area. What the Patriots are doing this season is special. The Patriots went 3-1 to start the season without quarterback Tom Brady, who finally served his four-game suspension for “deflategate.” Since Brady came back, the Patriots have only lost one game since, going 14-1 in that stretch. The tandem of Brady and head coach Bill Belichick are looking for their fifth Super Bowl title in seven appearances. It’s the franchise’s ninth appearance in the big game all together.

Plus, how great would it be to see commissioner Roger Goodell swallow his pride and hand the Lombardi Trophy to Brady after he hammered the suspension on him? I think every NFL fan would love to see the awkwardness that would unfold.

Super Bowl 51 features two of the top five offenses in the NFL. The Falcons rank second, averaging 415.8 yards of offense per game and New England ranks fourth, averaging 386.3 yards per game. There’s a reason why the odds makers in Las Vegas have the over/under at 58.5, which would be the highest in Super Bowl history.

One aspect about this matchup that people are overlooking is the New England defense. The defense was quietly the number one scoring defense in the NFL, giving up 15.6 points per game this season.

Super Bowl 51 will feature the number one scoring offense in Atlanta against the number one scoring defense in New England. This type of matchup has happened five times in the history of the Super Bowl, with the top-ranked scoring defense coming out on top four out of the five times.

The run that Atlanta has been on has been remarkable. Since their loss to the Kansas City Chiefs back in December, the Falcons have won six games in a row. Both of Atlanta’s playoff wins have come against Super Bowl-winning quarterbacks in Russell Wilson of Seattle and Aaron Rodgers in Green Bay. If the Falcons come out on top against New England, the team will have beaten three Super Bowl champion quarterbacks in the playoffs for their first Super Bowl win ever.

Legacies are on the line in Houston as Matt Ryan looks to put his name in elite company as one of the best quarterbacks in the game and Tom Brady looks for his fifth Super Bowl win, which will be the most from a starting QB in league history. If Brady wins this one, he will be mentioned by a lot of people as the greatest quarterback to ever play the game.

To the average person, this Super Bowl doesn’t seem like one that jumps out and grabs your attention, but to those who follow the NFL closely, like myself, this should be one of the best matchups in recent history.

As for a prediction for the game, let’s slow down a bit.

The game is a little less than two weeks away. Give me time to think about it.

Dylan Rubino is the sports editor for The Daily Leader. He can be reached at dylan.rubino@dailyleader.com. Follow him on twitter @drubino11.