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Super Bowl 51 Pick

Patriots

vs.

Falcons

2/5/17

The New England Patriots and the Atlanta Falcons will square off in Super Bowl 51 this Sunday. The game will be played at NGR Stadium in Houston, home of the Texans. The Patriots are a -3 point favorite with a total of 58 at our preferred sportsbook, 5 dimes. Kickoff is 6:35 pm est. and the game will be broadcast on FOX TV. (Be sure to check out the zillions of super bowl props offered at 5 dimes sportsbook)

Let's start this article by looking at our score prediction model. We run 3 different time frame parameters for NFL games. One uses the entire seasons worth of data. One uses only the last 7 games and one uses only the last 4 games. This gives us the opportunity to look at a teams total performance season to date as well as how they have performed down the stretch and lately.

Our model may or may not be of help here. The reason we say it may not be of help is that we have 3 different results in terms of who will cover in this game, depending on the parameters used. But where the model may be of help is in the type of game it's predicting.

Here are the results. The prediction using full season data is a stone cold tie with a score of 28-28. So, Falcons +3 using full season data. Using only the last 7 games, the model has New England winning by a score of 28-22. So, Pats -3 using the last 7 games. Finally, using the last 4 games only, the model says Pats on top by a score of 30-26. So, using the last 4 games, the model says Pats -3, but barely. The model seems pretty sure the Pats will score 28 to 30 points. It's having a more difficult time with the Falcons point total though.

Now, where the model has been very strong and accurate every year, is in predicting the type of game to expect. For example, in the AFC championship, the model predicted the Pats to win by anywhere from 6 to 19 points, depending on the parameters used, but more importantly, all 3 predictions had the Steelers scoring 18 points or less. The Steelers scored 17. Whether it's been the NFL or college football, if the model predicts, say, a 17-16 game, 9 times out of 10 the end result is a tight defensive game with 30 points or less scored. Likewise, if the model predicts a 35-28 game, you can expect fireworks.

When you look at all 3 predictions for this game, they all suggest both teams will find the end zone plenty of times. None of the predictions suggest either defense will shut the other team down. So, despite the fact that the model predicts a Patriots cover in 2 of the 3 predictions, it's very close. More importantly, the TYPE of game that the model predicts would seem to favor a Falcons cover. Let's face it, in a game where each team will have success offensively, it will come down to a key mistake somewhere along the way. A fumble. An interception. A missed field goal, etc.

When you look at these two teams offensively, you're not going to find much of a difference between the two. Both have marquee names behind center with Brady and Ryan. The Falcons do edge out the Pats offensively but not by much in pretty much every major category. But they are literally neck and neck, with the Pats right behind the Falcons. Also remember, we are looking at full season stats. Tom Brady did not play the first 4 games for the Patriots.

While they are neck and neck offensively, on the defensive side of the ball, they are miles apart with the Pats being significantly better in just about every major category. The Patriots are #1 in the NFL in the most important stat of them all defensively, points allowed, with a measly 15.6 points per game. The Falcons were the 6th WORST in the NFL at 25.4 points per game. The only teams worse were the Jets, Chargers, Browns, Saints and 49ers.

Whatever the category defensively, the Pats are clearly better. They were #3 against the run at 84 yards per game and their yards per point number of 20.9 was the best in the NFL. You'll here plenty of talk this week about the Patriots defense being overrated but the numbers don't lie. This was the best defense in the NFL in 2016-2017.

The Bottom line - Obviously with a pointspread of -3, we discard the line when making a prediction against the spread. No one (except the squarest of the squares) is going to bet the Falcons because they think the Patriots are going to win, but by only 1 or 2 points. Sure, it could happen. But the probability that the winner of this game also covers the spread is enormously high. So, when you approach this game from a betting standpoint, you concentrate on picking a straight up winner. You bet the Falcons if you think they win straight up. You bet the Patriots if you think they win straight up.

With that in mind, we have to back New England here. They are very simply, the better complete team. While the Falcons have a damn good offense, they aren't drastically better offensively than New England. It's just by a nose and again, 4 games were played without Brady. But defensively, the difference is in fact drastic. It's considerable. It's pretty much night and day.

Speaking of Brady, whether you love him or hate him, you can't deny his greatness. You can't make excuses to explain away the reasons why this guy wins and is playing in his SEVENTH Super Bowl, having won 4 (a remarkable catch away from winning 5).

Credit Belichick equally. Love him or hate him, there's been no one better. He's won with all different types of teams and played to their strengths. The best example of the Patriots being the more complete TEAM than the Falcons is the fact that Brady did not play the first 4 games of the season and the Patriots went 3-1 without him, proving that a football TEAM is just that, a TEAM, with 11 guys on each side of the ball contributing. The fact that they have the best QB to ever play the game behind center is simply icing on the cake. Our Pick - Patriots -3

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