On February 5th, the Patriots will take on the Falcons for Super Bowl LI. Will the Deflategate scandal affect this year’s game?
On January 18th, the Patriots beat the Steelers in the AFC championship game 36–17. The Patriots scored four touchdowns and one field goal in the first half. In the third quarter, they succeeded at two-point conversions after both of their touchdowns. Tom Brady threw a total of 384 yards and three touchdowns.
The NFL has yet to find evidence that Brady was involved with manipulating game balls prior to the AFC championship. However, this did not stop him from being suspended for four games during the 2016 season. Brady later appealed his suspension but lost and missed games 2 through 4 of the 2016–2017 season.
In a letter to NFL commissioner Roger Goodell, Brady’s attorney said, “The commissioner ignored fundamental fairness and due process rights by making an appeal decision based upon a standard that had never been articulated or applied in any previous League proceeding.” After a federal judge overturned his suspension, Brady served no additional games and played in all 16 regular season games for New England in 2016.
As the 2016 Super Bowl approaches, it remains to be seen whether or not the controversy over Deflategate will affect the game.
In many ways, Deflategate has been a blessing in disguise for the Patriots. Without it, they probably would have coasted into the Super Bowl with little fanfare. They even managed to win their division without Brady during the first four weeks of the season. And yet, an air of scandal hung over their heads as they progressed through the playoffs. This meant that they had to push themselves harder than ever before in order to prove their worthiness as a champion.
The Patriots’ offensive line has been dominant all year long. Offensive tackle Sebastian Vollmer and guard Logan Mankins were both named first-team All-Pros this year. Tight end Rob Gronkowski is one of the best pass-catching weapons in football today. Wide receiver Julian Edelman, despite lacking ideal height (5’11”) for his position, has emerged as a reliable target for Brady when he needs someone to bail him out of trouble. Running back LeGarrette Blount is a bruising rusher who can break tackles and gain tough yards on short-yardage situations that most running backs would struggle with (he’s also an excellent blocker
The Patriots are going to win the Super Bowl. This isn’t a prediction: it’s something I know, like that the sun will rise tomorrow, that my hair is a little thin on top, and that when I eat Chinese food I find myself burping an hour later. Is it possible that the Patriots will lose? Of course. But this is still something I know, not a guess or an opinion.
So how do I know? Well, as many have pointed out, there’s the matter of their quarterback Tom Brady. As was said during the AFC championship game, “every time they’ve doubted Tom Brady he’s answered with a Super Bowl ring.” And this year they’re doubting him more than ever: first there was Spygate and now Deflategate. It’s almost as if people are trying to get him to win one for spite: “Oh yeah? You think you can beat us with deflated balls? We’ll see about that!”
But Brady isn’t enough by himself. The real answer is that while they may have lost some advantage as a result of Deflategate, the Patriots’ new offensive play style will be enough to offset any problems caused by their lack of air pressure. While their passing game has taken a hit
Deflategate is a name given to an incident involving the New England Patriots and allegations that they deflated footballs used in their AFC Championship Game against the Indianapolis Colts on January 18, 2015. The NFL investigated the incident and found that 11 of the Patriots’ 12 game balls were under-inflated by about 2 pounds per square inch, citing that this was “more probable than not” due to deliberate actions, although the investigation also noted that it was unable to determine when or how the balls were deliberately deflated.
The Patriots advanced to Super Bowl XLIX and defeated the Seattle Seahawks 28–24. Patriots quarterback Tom Brady was named MVP of the game.
New England will meet Atlanta in Super Bowl LI on February 5th, 2017 at NRG Stadium in Houston, Texas.
What will affect the outcome of the game? In addition to the Patriots’ record, the team’s performance relative to other teams in their division, the Falcons have the fifth-highest number of points scored per game on average this season. So, what should one expect to see on Sunday?
The Patriots are a favorite in this week’s matchup. The Falcons have a strong passing attack, but they have struggled with their running game. They have also been inconsistent in their own pass defense. That said, they have also been very good at generating turnovers, which can make them dangerous in a close game.
The Patriots are still favored by most people in Las Vegas, though it is an interesting matchup because of how different these teams are from each other. The Falcons were the top seed in the NFC South and had an easy path to the Super Bowl. The Patriots were a wild card team that lost two games during the regular season and still ended up winning the AFC East.
Tom Brady has been a man on fire in the past few games. The New England Patriots have been scoring at will, but this may change as a result of the NFL’s decision to reinstate Brady following the deflategate scandal.
The Pats are already ahead of the game based on their numbers alone. Brady has a completion percentage of 69% and a QB rating of 111. The Patriots have scored 658 points this season, which is more than any other team in the league. They have also thrown more touchdowns than any other team with 45, according to ESPN stats and info.
The Patriots may be forced out of their comfort zone as a result of these penalties. While we can expect them to still put up big numbers, they will face an uphill battle with these new limitations on their play style and personnel.
With the 2017 Super Bowl set to take place on Sunday, February 5th, many fans and experts are asking themselves what will be the difference-maker in this year’s game. Is it the Patriots’ veteran experience? The Falcons’ new-team chemistry? The referee’s calls? The answers to all of these questions may lie in the Patriots’ offense.
The Patriots have one of the most successful offensive units in NFL history, but what makes them so great? Is it Coach Bill Belichick’s “next man up” philosophy that has allowed him to keep his squad fresh all season long? Or is it the coaching prowess of QB Tom Brady and his ability to make all of his team members better players? Whatever the reason, this year, more than ever before, we have seen a dramatic shift in New England’s offensive play style.
Gone are the days of long passes and deep balls. Instead we have seen a steady diet of short passes and screens that seem to run right into the heart of Atlanta’s defense. But is this strategy effective? Will it work against a Falcons defense that ranks among the best in football? We talked to several NFL scouts and former players to get their thoughts on this topic.