Lights, Camera, Action: Super Bowl 51
Brian Barefield | 2/3/2017, 10:23 a.m.
Well, it is finally here. The pinnacle of the NFL season. Crème de la Crème for every player that dons the uniform of any of the 32 teams in the National Football League. But for one team it seems like business as usual and the other team comes in with a ‘We Belong Here,” mentality. The AFC Champions New England Patriots will play the NFC Champions Atlanta Falcons in Super Bowl 51 in Houston, Texas (6:30 PM ET on Fox).
In high school, I played with a running back who led the city of Houston in rushing and he was really good. On game day, I noticed he always followed the same routine. He would take a 30 min nap, stretch, get his ankles taped and listen to rap through his Walkman. The exact same songs every week. I mean you could almost set your clock by him. One time I asked him, “Why do you do the same thing every game day?” His response was something I will never forget and I even use to this day. He said, “Successful individuals are creatures of habit. They find a routine that works for them and they stick to it. Any deviation from that makes you unsuccessful.”
This is how I imagine the New England Patriots approach things every year. Or as the franchise mantra goes “The Patriot Way.” This is the ninth Super Bowl appearance for New England and the second one in the last three years (Super Bowl 49 Champions). “This is what you fight for. This is what you train for. It’s to get an opportunity to play in the game,” says the franchise postseason leader in both catches (84) and receiving yards (937). The advantage this team holds is that they will arguably have two people who will go down in history as the greatest coach and quarterback of all time Bill Belichick and Tom Brady. They are making their seventh Super Bowl appearance together while winning four of those Super Bowls. “You never know if you will get these opportunities in life and fortunately this team has got the opportunity,” says Brady. But if they want to win number five they have to hope that their defense who has given up the least amount of points this year can stop the “Greatest Show on Turf 2.”
‘We have worked hard to get to this point but the challenge is still in front of us. It’s really difficult says to get here, but our ultimate goal is still in front of us,” says quarterback and Falcons leader, Matt Ryan. This is the second appearance in the Super Bowl for the Atlanta Falcons. The last coming in 1998. Ryan comes in touting the NFL’s league's leading offense in scoring (540) and second in total offense (415.8 yards a game). With all-pro wide receiver Julio Jones, two-headed monster at running back (Coleman, Freeman), and complimentary receivers (Gabriel and Sanu Sr.), Ryan has little to no worry about executing the game plan. “Matt is a great player and leader on this team, and he is my brother,” Says Jones. And he added “MVP” to that last statement as well. The one person that can keep these young Falcons grounded and focused is their head coach Dan Quinn who has coached in three Super Bowls in the last four years. “I am excited and for these players. It will be a great challenge,” responded Quinn when asked about his team’s demeanor. If he can keep his young defensive players from being too excited about this opportunity to play in the Super Bowl and against Brady they may have a chance.
Ok. Now the moment we have all been waiting for. My prediction. I have dreaded this for two weeks. From going over stat after stat and watching a lot of game footage on both teams, I have finally came to a decision. While this won’t be the most popular choice throughout the sports world. I am going with the Falcons (maybe that’s my loyalty to the NFC) to win 34 -24. This is solely based on the fact that the Atlanta Falcons are never out of a game with that offense. Any time they have the ball on offense is a potential scoring drive. And I do mean every time.
Enjoy the festivities this weekend Houston.