Super Bowl LI: Prediction time

Feb 3, 2017; Houston, TX, USA; A view of the stadium before Super Bowl LI at NRG Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports
Feb 3, 2017; Houston, TX, USA; A view of the stadium before Super Bowl LI at NRG Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports /

The staff of Raising Zona has made their Super Bowl LI predictions

The Arizona Cardinals are not in the Super Bowl this year.  It is somewhat disappointing given the high expectations coming into the season.

However, the show must go on.  The New England Patriots are facing the Atlanta Falcons in Super Bowl LI in Houston on Sunday.

Las Vegas oddsmakers still have the Patriots as three-point favorites.  As we’ve seen each year though, anything can happen.

The staff at Raising Zona has chimed in with their Super Bowl LI predictions.  The vote seems to be in favor of the Patriots winning it all.  Here is what our staff had to say.

Jeremy Meek, Co-Editor

Everything seems to be pointed towards Atlanta winning the first Super Bowl in Falcons history. Matt Ryan is playing MVP football, the running game has a great one-two punch, and the additions to the passing game to help the amazing Julio Jones have been fantastic. More importantly, the young defensive players they’ve added in recent drafts have been big-time. Vic Beasley, Deion Jones, and Keanu Neal have all helped make this defense fast and deadly. It almost seems like destiny. Almost.

On the other side of the ball stands the greatest dynasty in NFL history. The Patriots are a couple of crazy Eli Manning pass plays away from having won six of the past 15 Super Bowls. A win on Sunday would still give them five championships since the 2001 season. The New England’s defense would seem to be out-matched, but they always seem to have the perfect game plan under Bill Belichick. Also, as good as Ryan has been, Tom Brady is still the greatest of all-time, and his playoff record speaks for itself.

If anybody can finally solve the Patriots, it’s going to be a high-powered team like the Falcons, who can wear down a defense. If the Pats take away Julio, which they will attempt to do, Atlanta is equipped to win with the run. I expect some scoring, but not as much as some are predicting. In the end, the Patriots will slow down Ryan and Julio enough to keep it competitive, and I like the experience of the Patriots.

Prediction: Patriots 27 Falcons 21

Joseph Comeau, staff writer

As a Georgia resident, I’m not going to endear myself to my neighbors with this prediction, but I think experience and coaching will lead to a Patriot’s victory.

It would be tempting to pick the Falcons, as their offense has been prolific and their defense has improved late in the season. The book on Bill Belichick, however, is that his game plans are designed to stop the thing that an opposing offense does best. In this case, that would likely involve neutralizing Julio Jones.

That is a tall order, no doubt. Still, I think the Patriots’ defense slows down the high-octane Falcons’ offense. On the flip side, I don’t think the Falcons’ defense is strong enough to reciprocate.

Prediction: Patriots 27 Falcons 17

Jim Koch, staff writer

As much as I’d like the great Tom Brady to fall flat on his face, I can’t pick against the Pats in this one. Too little big game experience on the Falcons roster.

And despite the fact that they shut down Aaron Rodgers and Green Bay Packers, I still believe the Atlanta defense has too many holes. I’d really like Matt Ryan to emerge victorious for personal reasons. He grew up in Exton, PA, which is about a half an hour drive from South Philadelphia, my own hometown.

Prediction: Patriots 37  Falcons 33

Joseph Vazquez, staff writer

I think the Falcons win this because I see their defense getting more pressure on Tom Brady, the the Patriots get on Matt Ryan. Also just the amount of weapons Atlanta has.

We saw first hand when they played the Cardinals, Julio Jones gets shut down but here comes Taylor Gabriel, Devonta Freeman, Mohamed Sanu and Tevin Coleman. There are just too many weapons that the Patriots will have to deal with.

Prediction: Falcons 24 Patriots 17

Lawrence Lease, staff writer

I believe the New England Patriots will win because of Michael Floyd. I believe Floyd adds an extra boost to the Patriots offensive gameplan.

Prediction: Patriots 35 Falcons 14

As for me, I believe the Falcons will come out on top.  It’s their turn.  Their offense is just hard to stop.  The Cardinals saw that first hand back in November.

With the Cardinals being one of just four teams that played both of the Super Bowl participants, it is easier to gauge this game than others in the past.  The Cardinals had leads on both and failed to win both games.

The Patriots defense will be the deciding factor.  If they can get some stops on Matt Ryan and company they certainly can pull it out.  However this year belongs to the Falcons and their offense.

Prediction: Falcons 31 Patriots 30