This Sunday, the New England Patriots are hoping for “One More” while the Atlanta Falcons are hoping to “Rise Up.” Both are on the verge of winning Super Bowl 51 in Houston.
There is one major difference between the two teams: experience at the big game. The fact that they are two offensive juggernauts is no surprise. But, as quarterback Matt Ryan and the Atlanta Falcons prepare for their first real chance at a title at the team’s second appearance, Tom Brady and Co. will see this stage for a record-setting seventh time hoping to win their fifth ring, joining linebacker Charles Haley for the most Super Bowl wins in NFL history.
With this Super Bowl appearance, Coach Bill Belichick stands alone after breaking a tie that he previously held with Don Shula for the most Super Bowl appearances by a head coach in the history of the game.
Sophia Lipp (COM ’19), a host/ NFL analyst for Offsides, Boston University’s only professional sports talk show, thinks the Pats have the upper hand as Super Bowl vets.
“The Patriots will win because they are more used to high-pressure and high-stakes games and have better defense,” Lipp predicts.
According to CBS Sports, the Patriots do have good defense – they rank eighth in overall defense and fourth in overall offense. And they’ll need that defense, as they’ll be going up against a team that ranks second in overall offense, even if the Falcons are the fifth worst in the league for overall defense.
While some are tired of seeing the Patriots winning multiple championships and getting the chance to repeat year after year, this season was different and every fan and person of the Pats organization knows it.
This was the Revenge Tour.
In the 2015 AFC championship game between the Patriots and the Indianapolis Colts, there were allegations that the Patriots had tampered with the footballs’ pressure to make it easier for the team to throw, hold, or catch. Despite no physical evidence, Brady was suspended for the first four games of the regular season and not allowed anywhere near the rest of the team, and #Deflategate trended for months.
After the Pats had a surprising 3-1 start, headed by back-up quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo and rookie quarterback Jacoby Brissett, Brady returned and absolutely torched the league for a total of 28 touchdowns with only two interceptions, all while leading the Patriots to a 14-2 regular season record.
With all this success, there had to be some bumps in the road. Siva Nagarajan, a MIT graduate and Houston native, says, “I want the Falcons to win because I’ve hated the Patriots since Spygate.”
Recap: Spygate was an incident where the Pats were disciplined by the league for videotaping New York Jets’ defensive coaches’ signals from an unauthorized location during a game. This, along with Deflategate, has made the Patriots the league’s most hated team.
However, there are also some who chose the Falcons over the Pats simply because it would be great to see them win. Nancy Mendez (CAS ’18) believes that it is possible.
“I think in order for the Falcons to win they need to stop Tom Brady, so really step up their defense, play smart, and think ahead of their offense,” Mendez said. “And I think the Falcons might surprise everyone on Sunday.”
Despite the drama the Patriots have endured, there are still die-hard Pats fans, like Courtney Conyers (CGS ’20), who believes the Patriots will win because of their quarterback and the way the team ran through the season with little struggle.
“I really have zero doubt in my mind that they are going to win,” Conyers said.
But, they still find ways to succeed and whether football fans, coaches, players and organizations hate the thought of it, they’re back on the biggest stage of the sport and on their way to make history. All they need is just one more. Either way, history will be made: if the Falcons win, it will be their first, and if the Pats win, it will be their fifth, tying with the San Francisco 49ers and the Dallas Cowboys for second most Super Bowl wins.