It is that time of the year again where football is at its end until the next season. Super Bowl LI is the 51 Super Bowl featuring the New England Patriots and the Atlanta Falcons. The game will be aired on Feb. 5, 2017, by Fox and take place in Houston at the NRG Stadium. This is the third time that a Super Bowl has been held in Houston and the second time the Patriots have played in the stadium for the title.
The pre-game show will consist of the national anthem and a performance of “America the Beautiful”. Country music singer and songwriter Luke Bryan was selected to sing the national anthem before the game. It is the first time a male performer has been chosen for the job. Phillipa Soo, Renée Elise Goldsberry ad Jasmine Cephas Jones from the Broadway musical Hamilton will be performing “America the Beautiful”. The Super Bowl LI Halftime Show will be headlined by Lady Gaga. She confirmed the decision through her Instagram account, and it was also confirmed by Fox Sports president, John Entz. Gaga performed the national anthem at Super Bowl 50 last year.
This appearance by the New England Patriots will mark the ninth recorded Super Bowl the team has attended. It is also the seventh in the last 16 years under Tom Brady and coach Bill Belichick, which breaks three records. For Brady, it is the most appearances by a player at any position in Super Bowl history, while for Belichick it will break the tie of six Super Bowls as a head coach which he shared with Don Shula. Also, it will be his record tenth participation in any capacity the passes the record of nine he shared with Dan Reeves.
Despite the turmoil that followed the Patriots throughout the season including, Brady sitting out the first four games due to the Deflategate incident; losing Rob Gronkowski to a season-ending back injury in the eighth game of the season; and trading All-Pro Outside Linebacker Jamie Collins to the Cleveland Browns in the middle of the season, the team still made it through. This season continued New England’s trend in the 2010s decade of winning 12 games every year. Their record this year was 14-2 losing only to the Buffalo Bills in Week 4 and the Seattle Seahawks in Week 10.
The team never showed signs of slowing down despite initially using to backup quarterbacks and other various injuries. Throughout their season, the Patriots saw solid performances from many players including, Julian Edelman, Chris Hogan, Martellus Bennett and LeGarrette Blount. These players will be counted on to help guide the team to victory in the Super Bowl as well. All eyes will also be on the defense to assist to victory with the leadership of Malcolm Butler, Dont’a Hightower, Logan Ryan, Rob Ninkovich and Devin McCourty. These were some of the team’s high-impact players throughout the season.
The Atlanta Falcons also showed their own success throughout their season. Second-year head coach Dan Quinn finished out the season with an 11-5 record. This put the team at the #2 seed in the NFC playoffs. This will only be the second time the Falcons have appeared in the Super Bowl, and would be their first victory if they were to win against the Patriots. The first time they appeared was in Super Bowl XXXIII against the Denver Broncos. The franchise has shown a reversal from their misfortune of missing the playoffs the last three years.
The Falcons will be led by nine-year veteran quarterback Matt Ryan who ranked second in the NFL with his passing yards and touchdowns. On the offensive side, the team will look to Ryan’s favorite target, Julio Jones, as well as Mohamed Sanu, Taylor Gabriel, Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman. All of these players had major impact in many games this season for the Falcons. The franchise will also look to leaders Adrian Clayborn and veteran Dwight Freeney on the defense to stop the Patriot defense. Clayborn had five sacks and a fumble recovery this season, and Freeney was the NFL’s 18th all-time leader in sacks.
After making it to the playoffs, the Falcons continued their fight through the playoffs. First, they beat the #2 seed Seattle Seahawks in the divisional round 36-20. Next, they defeated Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers in the NFC Championship 44-21 after racking up 43 yards. Now, the team must beat the New England Patriots to receive their first Super Bowl win in Franchise history.