By Cameron Hogwood
Local NFL fans are in agreement on who they believe will be crowned Super Bowl 51 champions.
The NRG Stadium in Houston, Texas, will play stage to the season finale this weekend as the New England Patriots face the Atlanta Falcons.
Bill Belichick’s Patriots will make their ninth Super Bowl appearance and have been tipped to lift the Lombardi Trophy for the fifth time in their history.
The Atlanta Falcons enter the game sporting the under-dog tag despite taking the NFC by storm with their explosive attacking weapons.
In this week’s @CampbellsChunky Everyman fan pick, we ask who will win the Super Bowl?
— NFL on ESPN (@ESPNNFL) February 3, 2017
It seems few are unable to look beyond another New England masterclass, with quarterback Tom Brady continuing to justify his place amongst the NFL’s greatest of all time even at the age of 39.
The combined experience of coach Belichick and Brady means predictions have edged in favour of the Patriots despite the threat of a dynamic Falcons offense led by quarterback and MVP contender Matt Ryan.
From the battle between Brady and Ryan to Patriots cornerback Malcolm Butler stopping Atlanta’s star receiver Julio Jones, there are plenty of key battles that will undoubtedly prove to be decisive.
The Patriots enter as the certain favourites yet many are keen to see their opponents earn the ultimate reward for what has been an impressive season under Dan Quinn.
Barry Wiggins, San Francisco 49ers fan, said: “You have to respect the professionalism of the Patriots. The outcome of the game will really depend on key players but again obviously, I feel the best performing defense who rattles the QB should win the game.”
Buffalo Bills supporter Brian Punt added: “As a Bills fan my only connections to the Super Bowl are ex-Bills – Atlanta guard Andy Levitre, and Patriots receiver Chris Hogan. I wish them both good luck, and more than anything I’m hoping it’s an entertaining game, but my gut instinct is that the Patriots experience will give them the edge, and the Falcons will have a few moments where the big game atmosphere is a bit too much for them, leading to yet another Patriots win.”
Phil Lucas, whose Dallas Cowboys team were beaten by the Green Bay Packers in the play-offs, said: “I’d love Atlanta to win as Ryan has had an amazing season. The only way this will happen though is if Beasley and the defense gets in Brady’s face and stops him finding his rhythm. If Brady sits comfortably in the pocket he will dissect Atlanta’s secondary with Blount punching it in if they stall in the redzone. Both teams have been great and there will be a deserving champion at the end of it.”
Fellow Cowboys fan Ian Davies had a similar opinion, adding: “I’ll be rooting for the Falcons. They’ve been exciting to watch all season as opposed to the Patriots who are good all round in an efficient way. I think it will be close but the Brady Belichick experience may tip it in the Pats favour. Pats 24-20 but I hope I’m wrong.”