Super Bowl LI: Opening Line And Early Betting Value

tom brady matt ryan

Monday, January 23, 2017 1:15 AM GMT

I'm here to talk about the big game. The best of the AFC against the cream of the crop from the NFC. It's the Pro Bowl! OK, just kidding. Let's look at the opening line for the Feb. 5 Super Bowl LI in Houston between the Patriots and Falcons.

Atlanta Falcons Vs. New England Patriots (-3, 58.5)

Frankly, if the Patriots weren't in the Super Bowl, I'd imagine that many fans in the Boston area would be rooting for the Falcons to win their first championship as Atlanta star quarterback Matt Ryan was one of the greatest quarterbacks ever at Boston College and was an ACC Player of the Year there. Ryan beat out Patriots quarterback Tom Brady for first-team All-Pro honors this season and it's presumed Ryan will also do so for NFL MVP honors.

Ryan torched the Green Bay Packers for 392 yards and four scores in the 44-21 NFC Championship Game blowout. Atlanta covered as a 6-point home favorite on NFL odds, and the game went over the total of 60.5 points, the highest-ever NFL playoff over/under. Ryan has been unconscious in his team's six-game winning streak with 18 TD passes and no picks. Ryan has faced every NFL team at least twice in his career. He has a win against all but two of those teams -- the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Patriots.

This is the sixth straight Super Bowl that the Patriots have been favored, although they would closed at +1 against Seattle three years ago. The total opened at 57 and already has moved up 1.5 points. It's the highest total in SB history. The previous high was 57 for Super Bowl XLIV between the Saints and Colts. 

Atlanta and New England have faced off 13 times in the regular season all-time -- they will play in Foxboro in the 2017 season with a date to be determined. The Patriots have taken the past four on NFL picks. The most recent meeting was Sept. 29, 2013, at the Georgia Dome, a 30-23 New England victory. Brady threw for 316 yards and touchdowns to Kenbrell Thompkins (out of the NFL now) and Matthew Mulligan (caught one pass this season for the Detroit Lions; he had just two catches the entire 2013 season with the Pats). LeGarrette Blount rushed for 64 yards and a touchdown.

Ryan was 34-for-54 for 421 yards, two TDs and an interception in that loss. Tony Gonzalez, now retired and soon to be in Canton, caught 12 balls for 149 yards and both those TDs. Julio Jones, who had a monster NFC title game vs. Green Bay, had six catches for 108 yards.  After trailing 30-13, Atlanta had a chance to tie the game in the final minute, but Aqib Talib (now with Denver) knocked away Ryan's fourth-down pass for Roddy White in the end zone with 36 seconds remaining.

Falcons head coach Dan Quinn has seen the Patriots more recently. His final game as Seattle's defensive coordinator was the Seahawks' 28-24 loss to the Patriots in that thrilling Super Bowl XLVIII in Glendale, Ariz. Brady led a rally from 10 points down and threw for 328 yards and four touchdowns on Quinn's excellent defense. He has tried to rebuild the Atlanta defense in that group's mold.

Atlanta's only previous Super Bowl appearance was XXXIII on Jan. 31, 1999, in Miami when it lost to John Elway and the Broncos, 34-19. That was Elway's final NFL game. Of course Brady is looking for a fifth Super Bowl ring, which would be the most ever for any quarterback.

This will presumably be the final game as Falcons offensive coordinator for Kyle Shanahan. He's expected to be named the 49ers' head coach but can't officially be hired until Atlanta's season is complete. Quinn was in the same boat a couple of years ago and was officially announced as the Falcons'  head coach the day after the Super Bowl loss.

NFL Free Pick: Falcons +3 & 'Over' 58.5Best Lines Offered: BookMaker

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