The New England Patriots Open at 3-Point Favorites over the Atlanta Falcons in Super Bowl LI

The New England Patriots are the favorites to win Super Bowl 51. Las Vegas sportsbooks installed them as 3-point favorites to beat the Atlanta Falcons.

The over/under on the game is somewhere between 58 and 60 (after opening at 57.5), so the experts are expecting a high-scoring affair. The Atlanta Falcons had the #1 offense in the National Football League this year, while Tom Brady and the Patriots perennially have one of the top offensive units.

MGM Resorts Sportsbook Preparations

MGM Resorts Race & Sports Vice President Jay Rood told ESPN Chalk his company plans on having a large amount of betting action, but MGM Grand is preparing for that turnover.

Rood said, “We’ll have a pretty good position to book from for the Super Bowl. We’ll be able to accommodate some pretty big bets.

Super Bowl 51 Over/Under

The over/under on Super Bowl 51 opened at 57.5 points, making it the highest over/under in Super Bowl history. In certain places, that number was bet to 60 after the first 24 hours of wagering. People believe these two offenses are going to post huge totals.

Keep in mind that the Patriots’ had the #1 scoring defense in the NFL this year. While the Falcons Defense is not nearly as stout in the statistical column, it had a number of 1st, 2nd, and 3rd year players and improved greatly in the latter stages of the season. That young unit might be more prone to panic in a game of the magnitude of the Super Bowl, but the Falcons Defense gave Super Bowl quarterbacks Russell Wilson and Aaron Rodgers fits in their playoff games this year. Betting the under might be worthwile.

New England Patriots’ Super Bowl Appearances

This is the 7th trip to the Super Bowl for the coaching/quarterbacking combination of Bill Belichick and Tom Brady. Their seven appearances mark a new record.

In their previous six trips to the Super Bowl, Brady and Belichik have a 4-2 record. That includes victories over the St. Louis Rams (2002), Carolina Panthers (2004), Philadelphia Eagles (2005), and Seattle Seahawks (2015). It also includes two losses to the New York Giants (2008,2012).

Before the era of Brady and Belichik, the Patriots made two prior trips to the Super Bowl. They lost to the ’85 Chicago Bears in the 1986 Super Bowl, then lost to the Brett Favre-led Green Bay Packers in the 1997 Super Bowl.

Atlanta Falcons Super Bowl Appearance

The Atlanta Falcons have appeared in only one Super Bowl to this point: Super Bowl XXXIII in early 1999. In that title game, the Falcons lost to the Denver Broncos, 34-19. That was the “Dirty Bird” era Falcons, led by coach Dan Reeves, running back Jamal Anderson, and quarterback Chris Miller. It was also the last game John Elway played in the NFL.

2016-2017 Atlanta Falcons

This version of the Atlanta Falcons appears to be a more formidable challenger. For several years, the combination of Matt Ryan and Julio Jones has made the Falcons’ offense dangerous. At one time, Roddy White and Tony Gonzales added punch to the Falcons’s offensive unit. Those players are retired and the slack has been taken-up by Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman, running backs who each add a different dimension to the attack.

Falcons Defensive Prowess

What makes the Falcons different this year is their defensive unit. On paper, the defense does not appear that stout, because the unit jelled as the year unfolded. The defense’s scoring, passing, and total yards are 25th or worse in the league, while their rushing defense is only 17th.

Those numbers overlook the full story, because the Falcons have so many young players who took a while to find their roles this year. The team started three rookies in key positions: middle linebacker Deion Jones, outside linebacker Devondre Campbell, and safety Keanu Neal. Second-year players like defensive tackle Grady Jackson and cornerbacks Ricardo Allen and Jared Collins also contributed to the team, while 3rd year defensive tackle Ra’Shede Hageman made key contributions in the playoffs.

With so many young players, the team had a 4-4 start and gave up totals of 31, 28, 32, 26, 33, and 32 in those games. Over its final 6 regular season games, the Falcons held opponents under 20 points four times. In the playoffs, the unit’s speed and pass rush game problems to both Russell Wilson and Aaron Rodgers.

2016-2017 New England Patriots

This year’s version of the New England Patriots is primed by a stout defense, too. The team’s defensive stats were impressive in a more classic sense, as the Pats have the 1st ranked scoring defense, along with a unit ranked 4th in rushing defense, 12th in passing defense, and 8th in total yardage. The Patriots’ offense was 3rd in scoring offense, 4th in passing offense, 7th in rushing offense, and 4th in total offense.

Those are impressive totals in any years, and New England appears to have no significant weaknesses. Add to that a major advantage in Super Bowl experience, since this franchise won the Super Bowl just two years ago. All in all, bettors are likely to favor the Patriots at most sportsbooks.

About Cliff Spiller

Cliff Spiller has been an online writer for 14 years. He worked for Small World Marketing for a decade, where he covered topics like gaming, sports, movies, and how-to guides. Since 2014, he has blogged about US and international gambling news on,, and

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