I’ve had the opportunity to sit down with both head coaches and both quarterbacks this week, and I’m starting to get a good picture of how things are going to play out in Super Bowl LI. But I’m excited to see how each team handles the challenges presented by their opponent. Here are a few things I’ll be watching.
1. Can the Falcons get Tom Brady off his spot? It usually takes a blitz to do that, but Atlanta prefers to get to the QB with four pass rushers. I’m thinking it might be tough to do with justy four guys.
2. How will the Patriots cover Julio Jones? It seems to me the Patriots might have five or six different plans, and they will mix things up. At some point we might even see a big safety on Julio with a corner playing over the top!
3. How will the Falcons cover Julian Edelman? Will they bracket him? Will they play him in and out? When he sees that, he shoots the field. I’m interested to see how this plays out.
4. Which team will make the better halftime adjustments? New England is 15-0 when leading at halftime. Atlanta is 12-1.
5. Who “wins” the 1st drive? The Falcons have scored a TD on eight straight opening drives. The Patriots defense has allowed one FG and seven punts on first drives.
6. Who wins in the red zone? New England has the 8th-ranked red zone defense in the league, allowing a TD on just 52% of trips inside the 20. Atlanta is last, allowing a TD 72% of the time.
7. Who can better defend the run with a “light” box? There are too many good receivers on both sides to commit eight in the box. The team that can win with seven will have a leg up.
8. Who is the “X” factor? Which guy is left uncovered? Is it James White’s wheel routes in the red zone? Is it Tevin Coleman as a receiver out of the backfield? Is it Mohamed Sanu in single coverage?
9. Who has the better four-minute drill? Both teams think they can kill the clock late with the run game. I think the Patriots might have an advantage with LeGarrette Blount.
10. Which corners are better in press coverage? Atlanta has better corners and can help disrupt Brady’s timing.Add to My RFN