Submitted by Jim Hurley on Friday, January 27, 2017 at 10:33 AM
HEY FOLKS, JUST BE PATIENT! SUPER BOWL 51 WILL BE HERE BEFORE YOU KNOW IT AND WE STILL HAVE LOTS OF ANALYSES TO DROP ON Y'ALL.
PLUS THE NBA RUMOR MILL IS STAYIN' HOT
Why does it always feel as if the two weeks between NFL Championship Game Day and Super Bowl Sunday is way loooonger than just 14 days?
Gotta say that we've wished for a long time that the NFL would go straight from the NFC/AFC title games to the Super Bowl - if nothing else, history has proven that the Super Bowl games are better when played one week after conference champs are crowned - but you get all this malarkey from NFL folks that they need time for this and that ... hey, whatcha going to do and so sit tight and we'll be eyeballing SB 51 come the early evening of Sunday, Feb. 5th.
In the meantime, we've got lots to examine when it comes to this showdown between the AFC champion New England Patriots (still a 3-point betting favorite) and the NFC champion Atlanta Falcons and we'll have a few comments regarding "When the Patriots Have the Ball" in just a moment but first this key reminder:
Jim Hurley - America's #1 Handicapper - will have the Sides & Totals Winners of Super Bowl 51 when you check with us on game-day morning plus go ahead and continue to pile up the profits all this week/weekend with loads of NBA and NCAA Basketball winners right here online or at our toll-free telephone # of 1-800-323-4453 - go ahead and pound the books today!
SUPER BOWL 51 - Sunday, Feb. 5. 6:30 p.m. ET At NRG Stadium - Houston (TX)
NEW ENGLAND (16-2) VS. ATLANTA (13-5)
WHEN THE NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS HAVE THE FOOTBALL - Talk about learning something new every day!
If you've watched the New England Patriots on a week-in, week-out basis this year - and including their playoff wins against Houston and Pittsburgh - then you probably thought QB Tom Brady and the gang threw it more than anyone else around but the stats say otherwise.
In fact, New England threw the ball just 53.3 percent of the time this past regular season - and that ranks 'em 28th in terms of Team Passing Play Percentage - and so one thing the improved Atlanta defense must do is not sleep on the Pats' ground game here.
No doubt Brady (50-of-80 completions for 671 yards with 5 TDs and 2 INTs this post-season) remains the clear-cut front-and-center star here - duh! -- and he'll be chucking it 35-plus times no matter what but what we're saying is if RBs LeGarrette Blount and Dion Lewis are effectively cranking out four yards-or-more on pops up the middle than the Falcons will really have major problems.
Consider that Brady's two Super Bowl losses - to the New York Giants in both 2007 and 2011 - happened in large measure because that NYG pass rush made Brady "uncomfortable" in the pocket and so expect the strategy here to include an extra blocker staying in so that Brady has that extra second or two to find WRs Julian Edelman and Chris Hogan - a tandem that's combined for 29 receptions worth 530 yards and 3 TDs in the post-season triumphs against the Texans/Steelers.
If Brady is forced to bounce around in the pocket or chased out of his comfort zone, than Atlanta's young and cat-quick defense could get off the field after key third-down stops. It's gonna be a classic case of cat-and-mouse here as Patriots' offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels will look to call for screen passes whenever he senses the odd-man blitz is coming Brady's way, so let us be the first to predict that the aforementioned Mr. Lewis could have a big stat game as a pass-catcher out of the backfield (you prop players have just be given a tip!).
Otherwise, those sacks/hurries/hits on Brady will be important because they could/will have a residual effect come the fourth quarter.
Key numbers to watch: Edelman and Hogan (and WR Danny Amendola too) would like in the neighborhood of 18-to-20 catches for 200 yards - now that would likely get the Pats a win and Brady yet another Super Bowl MVP (he already has three of 'em).
NBA RUMOR MILL
Holy moly, if we all have to listen to any more trade rumors regarding New York Knicks F Carmelo Anthony we might just go crazy!
True, Anthony's daily drama on this - what else is new? - underachieving Knicks team is making back-page news every day with the New York City tabloids but the bottom line is Anthony does own a no-trade deal and so he's not going anywhere until/unless he's completely satisfied and that would also likely mean a few extra bucks in the coffer to get 'em shipped out of Gotham City.
The conventional thinking today - just 24-to-48 hours after a proposed Anthony-to-Cleveland-for-Kevin Love deal was scratched - is that Anthony will "outwait" Knicks team president Phil Jackson and it'll be Anthony still standing at Madison Square Garden at year's end, not the much-maligned Jackson.
P.S., the Knicks (20-27) are three full games back of the eighth-and-final playoff berth in the NBA's Eastern Conference and this is after New York PG Derrick Rose called 'em a "superteam" after signing last summer. Ha, ha, we're still laughing.
In other NBA rumor mill items ...
Might the Portland Trail Blazers (20-27) and/or the Sacramento Kings (18-27) be in the market for a key scorer while each tries to track down a post-season berth in the Western Conference?
Portland could be in the running for a dynamic big man - might Brooklyn's Brook Lopez be headed to RIP City soon? - while the Kings are less likely to deal away C DeMarcus "Boogie" Cousins and more apt to add a key piece with PF Serge Ibaka a possibility ...
Finally, NBA rumor mill touches here on head coaches - and we're wondering aloud whether Detroit Pistons' boss Stan Van Gundy is gonna survive past the upcoming All-Star Game break (they're a disappointing 21-25) and what about Portland's Terry Stotts who could be walking on hot coals these days. Stay tuned, NBA hoop nuts.