NewEnglandExpects-GlobalTimes

load_file(“/includes/top.html”);load_file(“/includes/navmenu.html”);HOMESPORTSNew England ExpectsBy Jonathan White Source:Global Times Published: 2017/2/3 5:03:39load_file(“/includes/article_shareup.html”);Can Atlanta Falcons fly in face of tradition against the Patriots?Tom Brady of the New England Patriots works out during a practice session ahead of Super Bowl LI on Wednesday in Houston, Texas. Photo: CFPThe world will be watching when the coin is tossed to signal the start of Super Bowl LI on Sunday night at the NRG Stadium in Houston, Texas. This years culmination of the NFL season sees a clash for the ages, with the Atlanta Falcons – victors over the Green Bay Packers in the NFC Championship game – taking on the New England Patriots – winners of the AFC Championship game against the Pittsburgh Steelers. It just wasnt the Super Bowl anyone was expecting.The Atlanta Falcons were unfancied going into the NFL season – to the point where they were the second least backed to win the Super Bowl just ahead of the Tennessee Titans, which means they were expected to fare worse than even perennial losers, the Cleveland Browns. This was at odds with the bookmakers favorites – and their opposition for the Vince Lombardi Trophy in Super Bowl LI on Sunday night – the New England Patriots. The Pats were the most backed going into the season and they have maintained their status as front-runners throughout the regular season, the playoffs and into the Super Bowl itself.RecordsThere are plenty more reasons for the franchise to be considered the favorites to lift that famous trophy. This is their ninth Super Bowl, a record, and their owner Robert Kraft has been in charge for eight of them, another record, since he took over the Pats in 1994. Those Super Bowl records keep coming: Head coach Bill Bellichik and quarterback Tom Brady head to their seventh Super Bowl together – no other combo has done more than four, no other QB has started more than five and Bellichik will become the head coach with the most Super Bowl appearances.Both men, though, will have their eyes on other records: Bellichik can establish himself as the preeminent coach with victory, a record fifth for a head coach, and his quarterback wants a record fifth ring, too, to put some distance between him and football legends Terry Bradshaw and Joe Montana.  The New England Patriots are clearly the team of tradition and it is fair to say that their opponents embody the exact opposite. The Falcons will be making only their second-ever Super Bowl appearance – they lost their debut to the Denver Broncos back in 1999 at Super Bowl XXXIII. The city of Atlanta has actually hosted more Super Bowls than it has competed in.New kids on the blockThat the Falcons are in Houston is largely down to Matt Ryan, the teams starting quarterback and favorite to pip Brady to the league MVP award. While many football fans were disappointed by the blowout scores that became a characteristic of this seasons playoffs, the Falcons just carried on the same way they had all season: by outscoring teams.  Ryan has led an offense that has been the highest-scoring during the 2016 NFL season and then put 80 points past their opponents in the playoffs – beating the Seattle Seahawks by 36-20 and then besting Green Bay by 44-21 – with an average winning margin of 20.5 points.Its not all Ryan, of course. His supporting cast includes wide receiver Julio Jones, the best receiver in football this season and a deserving winner of the MVP award if he were to get it, and Mohamed Sanu, another wide receiver, who has starred since swapping Cincinatti for Atlanta prior to the season. The Falcons free-scoring football approach has been masterminded by head coach Dan Quinn, only in his second year in the role, who is expected to head to San Francisco after the Super Bowl.Pushed to the limitTheir high-scoring status will be tested to the limit by the Pats – who had the tightest defense this season, giving up the least points in the regular season – and the defensive coaching of Bellichik. This will be the seventh Super Bowl where the top ranked offense has met the top ranked defence and the bad news for the Falcons is that defense is winning 5-1 so far.To make matters worse for the new boys, Bradys offense is a match for any team, finishing as the third-highest scorers in the regular season (and that despite Brady himself missing four games through suspension for his part in the “Deflategate” debacle). Even with his top target Rob “Gronk” Gronkowski out injured, they put 70 past their playoff ­opponents ­-­ beating the Houston Texans by 34-16 and then seeing off the Steelers by 36-17. While wide receiver Julian Edelman has become Bradys go-to man in Gronks absence, Brady can also call on Martellus Bennett and Chris Hogan, both of whom scored touchdowns in the playoffs.  The teams didnt meet in the 2016 season but the smart money is on a high-scoring game when the whistle blows. Tradition won out last year when Peyton Mannings Denver Broncos triumphed over Cam Newtons Carolina Panthers. 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