The New England Patriots (16-2) will be playing for the Lombardi Trophy once again. New England’s ninth trip sets an NFL record for the most appearances in the Super Bowl. On Sunday, Jan. 22, the Patriots defeated the Pittsburg Steelers 36-17 in the American Football Conference (AFC) Championship Game, for their sixth straight home postseason win.
The Patriots’ two-time NFL MVP Quarterback Tom Brady went 32-42 passing, for 384 yards and 3 touchdowns. Tom Brady now ties NFL Legend Joe Montana for the most games with 3 touchdown passes in postseason history with 9.
Wide Receiver Chris Hogan, who was undrafted and picked up by the Patriots organization through free agency, caught 9 receptions, for 180 yards and 2 touchdowns in the win over the Steelers. Hogan’s stat line was all career highs and matched that of Julio Jones against the Packers. The New England Patriots were the team to beat all year in the AFC, but head to Houston on a 9-game win-streak, and haven’t lost since Nov. 13.
Future NFL Hall-of-Fame Head Coach Bill Belichick was hired by the Patriots in 2000, and will make his seventh appearance in the Super Bowl. The Patriots’ Offense, led by Quarterback Tom Brady, averaged 27.6 points per game during the regular season, ranking forth in the NFL. Brady posted the second-ranked 112.2 Quarterback Passer Rating during the regular season, throwing for 3,554 yards, and 28 touchdowns, after missing the first four games of the season due to suspension.
In his 17th season, out of Michigan, Tom Brady proves that he is an MVP, Hall-of-fame Quarterback, and the Patriots biggest weapon offensively. Brady’s favorite target Julian Edelman had 98 receptions, for 1,106 yards receiving, and three touchdowns during the regular season. New England’s backfield will be occupied by LeGarrette Blount, who carried the football 299 times during the regular season, for 1,161 yards, and 18 touchdowns.
The New England defense is the best in the NFL, only allowing an average of 15.6 points per game. The Patriots’ defense is stacked with talent. The Defensive-Line is led by Trey Flowers, a second-year man, out of Arkansas. Flowers led the Patriots with seven sacks, and had 45 tackles. New England’s secondary is an elite group as well.
Cornerback Logan Ryan, a fourth-year man, out of Rutgers, led the team in tackles with 92. Malcolm Butler, a third-year man, out of West Alabama, leads the team in interceptions with four. Devin McCourty, a seventh-year man, out of Rutgers, is a 2017 Pro-Bowl selection. The New England Patriots’ defense will a key factor in the Patriots’ attempt to bring back their fifth Lombardi Trophy to Foxborough, Massachusetts.
The AFC Champion New England Patriots are in a familiar place. Head coach Bill Belichick and quarterback Tom Brady will go to their seventh Super Bowl appearance together. Together, they have won 24 postseason games. The Patriots will not be nervous, so do not expect them to turn the ball over. However, if they do, Matt Ryan and the Falcons’ offense will get extra chances to put points on the board, which has not been easy for any team to prevent this season.
The Patriots’ O-line will be a major factor in the Super Bowl matchup. If Brady has time to throw, he will get the ball in the hands of his playmakers. When Brady is forced out of the pocket, his accuracy falls. As for LeGarrette Blount, he rarely puts up outrageous numbers.
However, if the O-Line can create holes for him, he could rush for over 100 yards and a touchdown or two, if the Falcons’ Defense sits on defending the pass too often. New England’s defense will be the biggest factor for the Patriots to win their fifth Lombardi Trophy.
Simply, it comes down to one question: Can the Patriots keep the Falcons’ offense out of the end zone? If the New England defense can keep the high-powered Atlanta Offense off the field, Tom Brady will lead the Patriots to the franchise’s fifth Lombardi Trophy.