The leadup to Super Bowl LI has been slightly less feverish than usual. They’ll still play the game. Here are our predictions.
Kyle Koster: Atlanta 30, New England 28. The NFL Playoffs have been severely lacking in late-game drama. An affair pitting two offenses capable of scoring at will should help fix that problem. It’s just going to take a bit to turn into a track meet, though. Both the Patriots and Falcons will be deliberate with first-half drives before taking more deep chances late in the game. The lead will change hands five times before a feverish final two minutes featuring a Brady-to-Edelman go-ahead touchdown and a Matt Bryant game-winner from 48 yards.
Jason McIntyre: New England 29, Falcons 16
Jason Lisk: Atlanta 34, New England 31. New England is masterful at taking away the best weapon and making teams beat them elsewhere. Most teams they have played have been incapable. In five games this year where Julio Jones had less than 60 receiving yards (including two missed games), Atlanta went 5-0 and averaged 37 points. The running back duo and the other receivers have been more than capable all year. I think this is a close game and the score will only be held down by the opposing offenses going on sustained drives and limiting the total possessions.
Ty Duffy: New England 31, Atlanta 27. New England keeps it close in Super Bowls. This one is no exception.
Ryan Glasspiegel: Atlanta 30, New England 26
Michael Shamburger: Atlanta 31, New England 28
Ryan Phillips: New England 34, Atlanta 31. Despite a hot start and a halftime lead for the Falcons, Matt Ryan and company can’t hold off the hard-charging Patriots. Tom Brady and Bill Belichick hoist the Lombardi Trophy for the fifth time.
Stephen Douglas: New England 38, Atlanta 31. The Patriots always win. It’s kind of annoying. I mean, you ever heard any of their fans? Sheesh. 2017 shows no signs of relenting.
Koster: Devonta Freeman, who will prove an effective as a pass-catcher out of the backfield.
McIntyre: Tom Brady
Lisk: Matt Ryan
Duffy: Tom Brady
Glasspiegel: Matt Ryan
Shamburger: Matt Ryan
Phillips: Tom Brady
Douglas: Dion Lewis
Koster: Dwight Freeney, who sacks Tom Brady and forces a fumble.
McIntyre: Malcolm Mitchell, Patriots receiver.
Lisk: Taylor Gabriel, Atlanta wide receiver, as former Browns decide the outcome.
Duffy: LeGarrette Blount
Glasspiegel: Tevin Coleman
Phillips: Martellus Bennett
Douglas: Dion Lewis (Everyone will spend the next two weeks talking about how Brady deserved the MVP.)
Koster: Patriots special teamer, who is called for holding to negate a Dion Lewis kickoff turn score.
McIntyre: Kyle Shanahan, whose offense struggles to solve Bill Belichick.
Lisk: James White, on a fumble.
Duffy: Sean Spicer when Atlanta scores two quick touchdowns to take a 27-24 lead after his triumphant tweet.
Glasspiegel: Tom Brady
Phillips: Robert Alford, Falcons corner will be called for a key pass interference penalty.
Jimmer Oh, you mean the guy who gets blamed for the loss. Matt Ryan.
Lady Gaga Will Be
McIntyre: Naked, like Janet Jackson was when she was in Houston.
Glasspiegel: On the edge of glory, hangin’ on a moment of truth
Phillips: Unexpectedly tame
Douglas: Great. She’s always great. She’ll be great.
Koster: New England 14, Atlanta 13
Lisk: New England 17, Atlanta 13
Duffy: New England 17, Atlanta 10
Glasspiegel: Atlanta 14, New England 10
Shamburger: Atlanta 17, New England 14
Phillips: Atlanta 21, New England 14
Douglas: New England 24, Atlanta 10.
Koster: George and Barbara Bush’s coin toss.
Lisk: A Donald Trump tweet about the officiating.
Duffy: My first bite of hamburger/queso dip.
Glasspiegel: Brady swearing at Julian Edelman for a crucial late drop, and then throwing a game-sealing interception.
Phillips: Julio Jones scores a ridiculous touchdown.
Douglas: That brief moment in the 4th when you think Atlanta can really do it.
Most Shareable GIF
Koster: Roger Goodell smiling when realizing he doesn’t have to hand trophy to Patriots.
McIntyre: Brady and Goodell on the podium..
Lisk: Tom Brady throwing a tantrum after he is knocked to the turf
Duffy: Brady looking like he got stiffed for a high-five. Also my first bite of hamburger/queso dip.
Glasspiegel: See “best moment”
Shamburger: Not sure yet but probably Belichick related.
Phillips: Brady and Goodell on the podium.
Douglas: Barbara Bush’s face after Lady Gaga says something about Donald Trump.
Will Atlanta Be a Good Sports Town Come Monday
McIntyre: It never was, and never will be.
Lisk: Only when compared to some.
Duffy: This will be settled finally when this argument pops up the next time an Atlanta pro sports franchise does something worth paying attention to in 2025.
Shamburger: NO! Who dat!
Phillips: No self-respecting sports town would build a football stadium with a roof that looks like a sphincter.
Douglas: Sports are dead and Atlanta killed them.