Super Bowl LI Tea Leaves

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NFL play-by-play man Sam Rosen gives take on Pats/Falcons clash

Tom Brady and Matt Ryan will face off at Super Bowl LI. (Tom Brady photo courtesy of the New England Patriots/Jim Mahoney; Matt Ryan photo source: Facebook)

As the hours tick away to the kick-off for Super Bowl LI at Houston’s NRG Stadium, speculation is at a fever-pitch about the outcome of this matchup between the New England Patriots and the Atlanta Falcons. The Patriots will be making their ninth Super Bowl appearance, the most of any team and the seventh under Bill Belichick and Tom Brady. This marks the Falcons’ second time at the Super Bowl, having fallen to the Denver Broncos in Super Bowl XXXIII. New England comes in with an NFL-best 14-2 regular season record, having had the third-highest scoring totals (441) while allowing the fewest points (250).

Under second-year coach Dan Quinn, Atlanta finished the season with an 11-5 record and topped the league in scoring with 540 points. Despite the fact that Pro Bowl linebacker Vic Beasley led the league in sacks (15½), team defense ranked just 27th in points allowed.

Sam Rosen

Conventional wisdom has the Pats winning handily, but according to NFL sportscaster Sam Rosen, there are goals each team needs to achieve in order for said franchise to wind up hoisting the Lombardi Trophy. Rosen’s football broadcast background dates back to the late 1970s, when he was calling pre-season Jets and Giants games on WPIX. When he’s not busy calling hockey games for the New York Rangers, Rosen has been a play-by-play announcer for The NFL on Fox since 1996 and has covered plenty of games from both squads in recent years.

Atlanta Falcons

“Keep the offense going at a high pace, and keep the ball away from Tom Brady. That’s what they did during their two playoff games at home. I thought they could have scored 50 in each of the games.”

“They’ve got all the tools offensively—they’ve got good running backs, good speed and great receivers. As long as Matt Ryan gets a chance to throw, he’s very, very dangerous. He’s having one of those years where everything is going right and he’s got big playmakers in Julio Jones, [Taylor] Gabriel has turned into a big playmaker and they’ve got two guys, [Devonta] Freeman and [Tevin] Coleman coming out of the backfield, so they are a very dangerous offensive team. The Falcons need to keep the passing game going and mix it in with a good running game.”

“Defensively, they did a great job pressuring Aaron Rodgers, because they’ve got good speed rushers off the edge and in the middle. But they’ve got to get to Tom Brady. He’s one of those guys who can take that one step in the pocket and avoid the pass rush. If they can get to him and hit him, they’ll have a chance to be effective and win the game.”

New England Patriots

“Protect Tom Brady so he can continue his pinpoint passing. I think they’ve got to keep the Falcons speed rushers off of him.”

“I think they need LeGarrette Blount to run the ball effectively so they can have a mixture of running and passing game.”

“The third thing is to get Matt Ryan to turn the ball over a couple of times. Ryan is having a fabulous year. He’s cut down on his mistakes and turnovers, his passing is brilliant, and they’ve got tremendous offensive weapons. But if the Pats can get a couple of turnovers, picks or fumble recoveries, I think that would certainly turn the game in their favor.”

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