2017 Super Bowl: 51 things to know about Patriots vs. Falcons in Houston

On Sunday, Tom Brady and the New England Patriots will face off against the Atlanta Falcons and their historically great offense in Super Bowl LI. Houston, prepare for launch.

If the Patriots win, they'll secure their fifth championship in the Bill Belichick era and Brady will further entrench his spot atop the all-time quarterback leaderboard. Furthermore, the Patriots will have the benefit of receiving the trophy from commissioner Roger Goodell, who once docked them a million bucks, a first-round pick and suspended Brady four games because the Patriots allegedly used under-inflated footballs in a 45-7 victory.

If the Falcons win, they'll secure their first championship. Matt Ryan 's entire 2016 season will have to go down as one of the greatest single seasons ever. Dan Quinn will forever have the job security that comes with a Super Bowl ring. And Arthur Blank will undoubtedly dance (again).

The following list is intended to get you primed for Super Bowl LI. So, without further delay, here are 51 things to know about Super Bowl LI.

51. Brady can become the second-oldest quarterback to win a Super Bowl

Peyton Manning became the oldest QB to win a Super Bowl a year ago when he did it at 39 -- just about six weeks shy of his 40th birthday. Brady is 39 now, but he won't turn 40 until Aug. 3, so Manning will still own this record even if the Patriots win.

50. Brady can win a record fifth Super Bowl as a quarterback

On the other hand, Brady has Manning beat in a more important category: He's currently tied at four Super Bowl wins with Joe Montana and Terry Bradshaw.

49. Brady can snag a record fourth Super Bowl MVP

Montana also has three.

48. Dan Quinn has coached in three of the past four Super Bowls

He served as the defensive coordinator when the Seattle Seahawks beat the Denver Broncos in Super Bowl XLVIII and lost to the Patriots in Super Bowl XLIX. He took the Falcons' job before the 2015 season and he's already back in the Super Bowl.

That's not bad.

All Dan Quinn does is coach in Super Bowls. USATSI

47. The Patriots will wear white

It's a super lucky color:

The Falcons will wear red, by the way.

46. Ryan has started two games against the Patriots

In two career starts against a Bill Belichick-coached defense, Ryan is 51 of 82 (62.2 percent) for 620 yards (7.56 YPA), two touchdowns, one interception and an 88.5 passer rating. The Falcons lost both games.

45. Brady has started four games against the Falcons

In four career starts against the Falcons, Brady is 88 of 131 (67.2 percent) for 1,193 yards (9.11 YPA), nine touchdowns, one pick and a 115.7 passer rating. The Patriots won all four games.

44. Julio Jones is amazing in the postseason

This shouldn't come as a shock: Arguably the game's best receiver is awesome in the playoffs.

In five career playoff starts, Jones has averaged 110.4 yards and a touchdown. With his 180-yard, two-touchdown outing in the Falcons' win over the Green Bay Packers , he set a playoff record.


43. Belichick against top WRs

Then again, Belichick has a pretty decent track record against receivers like Jones. Via NESN (their methodology is explained in the link):

The Patriots have only allowed one playoff touchdown to any first-team All-Pro receiver standing 6 foot or taller. The Patriots have only allowed two 100-yard games to such players. Muhammad caught four passes on 10 targets for 140 yards with a touchdown in Super Bowl XXXVIII, and Owens caught nine passes on 14 targets for 122 yards in Super Bowl XXXIX. The Patriots held Harrison, Wayne, Holt, Brown and Rice to games under 50 yards.

The Patriots are 10-2 in those contests.

Give Belichick two weeks to take away a team's best weapon and that's exactly what he'll do.

42. The Patriots' record with the Super Bowl referee is decent

The Patriots are 7-2 in games refereed by Carl Cheffers in the past 10 years, according to Christopher Price.

41. Brady has more Super Bowl experience than the entire Falcons' roster

Woah:

40. More people bet on the Cleveland Browns to win the Super Bowl than the Falcons

According to ESPN, only the Tennessee Titans had fewer Super Bowl bets than the Falcons in the preseason.

matt-ryan.jpg
Matt Ryan and the Falcons have proven all the doubters wrong so far. USATSI

39. The game will be played at NRG Stadium in Houston at 6:30 p.m. ET on Feb. 5

Here's how you can watch on TV. Here's how you can watch without cable.

38. Lady Gaga will perform at halftime

We ranked all of the Super Bowl halftime performances here if you wanna jump from one listicle to another.

Lady Gaga is bringing her best poker face to the Super Bowl. USATSI

37. Luke Bryan will sing the national anthem

Last year, that honor went to Lady Gaga. This year, it belongs to Bryan, a country star (I'm told).

36. Belichick will face his former employees

Thomas Dimitroff, the Falcons' general manager, worked for the Patriots as a scout in 2002 and as the director of college scouting from 2003-07.

Scott Pioli, the Falcons' assistant general manager, worked for the Patriots from 2000-2008. For the majority of his time in New England, he served as vice president of player personnel.

35. The Browns will be there in more than just spirit

Whenever you think you've found the most Browns thing ever, you find a better example of their ineptitude.

Of course.

A photo posted by CBS Sports (@cbssports) on

34. Our preseason Super Bowl 'Madden' simulation might've nailed it

Before the season, my colleague Will Brinson ran a "Madden" sim of the 2016 season. The sim predicted that the Falcons would win the Super Bowl:

Super Bowl

Falcons beat Pittsburgh Steelers 41-35

This is the beauty of fake football. Anything can happen? I'm not saying I will literally eat one of my shoes if the four teams in the championship games are the Steelers, Jacksonville Jaguars , Falcons and New Orleans Saints but, actually eff it, I'll eat a shoe if that happens. Screenshot it and hold me to it.

As far as I know, Brinson has not eaten a shoe ... yet.

33. Alabama and Rutgers are equals

After the Falcons and Patriots clinched their spots in the Super Bowl, Tom Fornelli took a look at the college programs that are the most represented in the Super Bowl. This won't come as a shock, but Alabama is tied for the lead with five players split between the Patriots and Falcons. This will come as a shock: Rutgers is tied with Alabama.

Here's the top-3:

  • Alabama: 5
  • Rutgers: 5
  • LSU and Stanford: 4 each

32. No. 1 offense vs. No. 1 defense

The Falcons finished first in the NFL by averaging 33.8 points. The Patriots finished first in the NFL by allowing 15.6 points per game.

Still, this game shouldn't be viewed as a top offense vs. top defense sort of game, namely because the Patriots' defense is overrated (it ranked 16th in DVOA, which factors in their weak schedule) and because the Patriots' offense (27.6 points per game) is the undeniable strength of the team.

31. The Falcons offense is historically great

But the Falcons have the edge in offense. They didn't just lead the league in points scored, they finished as the seventh-highest scoring offense (tied with the 2000 Los Angeles Rams ) in NFL history. For what it's worth, the 2007 Patriots are rank second on that list.

30. Ryan's amazing YPA stat

Ryan averaged an incredible 9.3 yards per pass this season. For context:


29. Tom Brady set an NFL record this season

He posted the best TD-INT ratio in NFL history, throwing 28 touchdowns and two interceptions. Sorry, Nick Foles .

28. This is Dan Quinn's first game against Bill Belichick as a head coach

And that might not be a good thing.

27. Our Super Bowl 'Madden 17' sim picked the Patriots.

They won by 10 points and Brady took home MVP honors. For a complete recap of that fake game, click here.

26. Brady and Ryan text each other

Via ESPN:

"We've kind of kept in touch over the years," Brady said Monday morning during his weekly interview on sports radio WEEI. "I'm always sending him texts over the course of the season and vice versa. I have a lot of respect for Matt. I like him a lot as a person, as a player, as a leader."

25. The Falcons defense has been awesome since Week 11

Since a Week 11 bye, the Falcons have allowed 20.5 points per game -- that's including postseason play, which means the sample size is eight games. Before the Week 11 bye, this unit allowed 28.3 points.

24. Vic Beasley has been a beast

Beasley, the Falcons' second-year pass rusher, led the NFL with 15.5 sacks. That's important, because getting pressure on Brady is important.

vic-beasley.jpg
Vic Beasley has come into his own in his second season in Atlanta. USATSI

23. Brady under pressure

With that being said, Brady is still pretty awesome when under duress. According to Pro Football Focus, Brady posted the fifth-highest passer rating under pressure (84.9) in the regular season.

22. Ryan under pressure

But Ryan was better than Brady. He recorded an 87.2 passer rating when pressured, per PFF, which ranked third.

21. Brady's deep passing

Much has been made of Brady's diminishing deep accuracy. But this season, he finished second in the NFL with a 124.4 passer rating on throws that traveled at least 20 yards downfield (per PFF).

20. Ryan's deep passing

But, again, Ryan one-upped Brady. He led the NFL with a 136.1 passer rating on deep passes (via PFF, again).

19. Two good DVOA teams

According to Football Outsiders, the Patriots finished the regular season first in overall DVOA while the Falcons placed third. The Dallas Cowboys , may they rest in peace, were second.

18. Nearly identical in turnover ratio

The Patriots went plus-12 in turnovers this season (third in the NFL) while the Falcons finished tied for fourth with a plus-11. Translation: Both teams take care of the ball.

17. 'Hamilton' is coming to the Super Bowl

Three former actresses from Broadway's "Hamilton" -- Phillipa Soo, Renee Elise Goldsberry and Jasmine Cephas Jones (who played Eliza, Angelica and Peggy Schuyler) -- will perform "America the Beautiful" during the pregame show.

16. Belichick advised the Falcons to not trade up to draft Julio Jones

He was wrong -- for once.

15. Previously in Texas ...

This is the first Super Bowl in Texas since the Packers beat the Steelers in February 2011. That game was played at Cowboys Stadium.

And the last time Houston hosted a Super Bowl was in 2004 at Reliant Stadium, where the Patriots edged the Carolina Panthers .

14. You can bet on how many times Donald Trump will be mentioned on the broadcast

The over/under is set at 1.5. You can check out a list of all the crazy prop bets here.

13. Martellus Bennett is reportedly playing through a horrible injury

With Gronk out, the Patriots are lucky to have one of the game's best and toughest tight ends to fill his role in the offense.

12. Ryan has been incredible this postseason

In his first two playoff games, Ryan has thrown seven touchdowns and zero interceptions.

11. Ryan's interception-less streak

The last time Ryan threw a pick? Dec. 4. So, he has gone six full games without one.

10. Tom Brady and interceptions

Brady threw only two picks in the regular season, setting the NFL record for TD-INT ratio with 28 touchdowns and two interceptions. But in this postseason, he has already thrown two interceptions, matching his regular-season total.

With that being said, both occurred in the divisional-round win over the Houston Texans , a game in which the entire team struggled. Brady didn't throw a pick in the win over the Steelers in the AFC title game.

9. Falcons owner Arthur Blank is taking the entire organization to Houston

8. Tom Brady's Super Bowl records

Brady already owns the following Super Bowl records:

  • Appearances: 7 (counting this year)
  • Pass attempts: 247
  • Completions: 164
  • Passing yards: 1,605
  • Passing touchdowns: 13
  • Consecutive completions: 16 in 2011
  • Tied for first in quarterback wins: 4
  • Tied for first in Super Bowl MVPs: 2001, '03, '14

So, if the Patriots win, he'll have won the most Super Bowls by a quarterback and likely the most MVP awards.

7. The Brady-Belichick combination is unstoppable

As SBNation's Geoff Schwartz pointed out, "14 percent of all Super Bowls have seen Brady start and have been coached by Belichick."

Incredible.

6. Matt Ryan has defeated 29 of 32 NFL teams

The only teams left to beat for Ryan?

  1. The Falcons (duh)
  2. The Steelers
  3. The Patriots (because of course)

5. The Patriots are undefeated with Dion Lewis

He's healthy.

4. Since losing Gronk, the Patriots are unbeaten

This team is incredible.

3. Brady needed to use a map to find Foxborough when the Patriots drafted him

Check out what Brady said last week on the 17th anniversary of Belichick's hiring:

"When they picked me I had to look on a map to see where the New England Patriots played, because I had never been this far east," Brady said at a press conference. "It was a magical day in my life. ... He's been a great coach, a great leader for our team. We've had a good run, we've got to keep it going."

And now he's starting his seventh Super Bowl for them.

2. Tickets are expensive

Exactly one week before the game, the cheapest Super Bowl ticket on StubHub was listed at $2,200. The most expensive? $1 million.

1. Who's expected to win?

The Patriots are favored by three points.

Bonus: Who do I think will win?

The Patriots, because you never ever bet against Bill Belichick.

CBS Sports Writer

Sean Wagner-McGough joined CBS Sports in 2015 after graduating from UC Berkeley. A native of Seattle, Sean now resides in the Bay Area. He spends his spare time defending Jay Cutler on Twitter. Full Bio

Show Comments Hide Comments
CBS Sports Store
NFL Cold Weather Gear
Our Latest Stories
    Bracket Games