Welcome to Against All Odds: Super Bowl LI! From the opening weekend of the NCAA football season through Super Bowl LI, Mike Drakulich (PSN), editor of Pittsburgh SportsNation, takes on his father, Michael J. Drakulich (MJD), in picking 10 games against the Vegas spread.
Teams in Pittsburgh’s local coverage area, Pitt, Penn State, and West Virginia, when they are playing, will always be on the docket among the five NCAA games chosen, and the Pittsburgh Steelers, covered by your favorite Pittsburgh writer for NGSCsports.com, will be included alongside four other exciting NFL match-ups.
Once Bowl Season arrives, we’ll bring you all 42 games and then continue with the NFL Playoffs.
Itchy vs Scratchy. Black Spy vs White Spy. Cheers vs Gary’s Old Towne Tavern. History is full of rivalries, but none are better than father vs son! Who will rise above the other this season and become the 2016-17 Against All Odds Champion?
It’s been a fun season of Against All Odds, but all good things must end. We end the 2016 season with Super Bowl LI featuring the Atlanta Falcons and the New England Patriots. For the 2nd year in a row, my dad whooped me in the overall standings, but at least this year I’ll be finishing above .500! We were neck and neck all year until Bowl Season when I had my head handed to me during the 2nd and 3rd week of the endless amount of Bowls. Honestly, though, I don’t mind. I prefer watching football any day or night over some ridiculous reality show where rich people are constantly bitching and moaning about their lives.
Kudos to my dad who had a tremendous season. He will be going with Tom Brady and the Patriots who will be giving 3.5 to the Falcons and Matt Ryan. For the year, my dad has a record of 115-91! That is up there with the best experts in the country.
So enjoy what’s left of Winter, enjoy Spring as March Madness and the NHL/NBA playoffs arrive, and kick back with a few cold ones in the Summer when baseball is back…we’ll be back and better than ever next September for the 2017 edition of Against All Odds!
Lines as of 2/3/2017
Sunday, February 5th
Super Bowl LI
NRG Stadium, Houston, TX.
#2 Atlanta (13-5) at #1 New England (16-2), 6:30 pm | Line: New England -3.5
Pick- PSN: Atlanta | MJD: New England
Super Bowl LI features two spectacular offenses in the Patriots and Falcons. Overall, I think Atlanta and Matt Ryan possess more weapons than Tom Brady and the Patriots, but will experience be the difference in the final game of the 2016 NFL season?
Atlanta’s defense has also upped their game in the playoffs, an occurrence that has been overshadowed by the high scoring offense the Falcons possess.
The Super Bowl brings pressure and nerves like no other game in the season. There is no tomorrow for the loser. The winner gets to celebrate the amazing accomplishment of raising the Lombardi Trophy while the loser stares into space thinking of what could’ve been.
For the Falcons to pull off the upset, they will have to play to win, and not apprehensive and scared as Pittsburgh did two weeks ago. Playing a zone against Brady is an invitation to #12 picking you apart pass after pass, especially with no pass rush. It’s death by a thousand cuts.
“Tom Brady is a future Hall of Fame quarterback. It’s hard to stop a guy like that that knows defenses,” Falcons defensive tackle Jonathan Babineaux said. “He’s seen it all. The thing that we have to do is rattle him and make sure he’s not comfortable in the pocket. We know in this league that the ball comes out 2.4, 2.5 (seconds) 90 percent of the time, so any way we can affect him by getting our hands up, or getting a hit and getting him rattled, anything we can do to disrupt him is going to be great for us.”
My dad believes the Patriots coaching and experience will lead them to a 5th Super Bowl Title. Oh, and there is that little spat between Roger Goodell and Tom Brady, who will be more than motivated to win and have Goodell hand him over the Lombardi Trophy.
I, however, think the exuberance and tenacity of Atlanta’s offense will find a way to outscore the Patriots if this becomes a shootout. Julio Jones and Taylor Gabriel are Ryan’s top options in the passing game. Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman form a two headed monster in the Atlanta rushing attack.
“They do an unbelievable job of making guys either miss in open space, whether it’s tackling or in your approach angles,” New England defensive coordinator Matt Patricia said. “Their vision that they run with is phenomenal. What’s great is when they get them out of the backfield, the passing game — great for them, not for me — is trying to defend them. They run receiver routes, the quarterback trusts them to get the ball to them very quickly.”
It will be one heckuva conclusion to the 2016 NFL year. There is no doubt this will be a battle well into the 4th quarter where the slightest mistake could be the difference between the thrill of victory, and agony of defeat.
MJD: Last Week: 0-2 | Overall: 115-91 .563 —
PSN: Last Week: 1-1 | Overall: 106-100 .514 9
From Midland, "The Basketball Capital of Pennsylvania", located 35 miles NW of Pittsburgh along the Ohio River. This former steel town was home to storied athletes such as Dave Alston, Norm Van Lier, Simmie Hill, and the legendary 1965 Midland High School Basketball Team.
There's nowhere on earth that is more dedicated to its sports teams like Western Pennsylvania and the city of Pittsburgh. The passion and pride of Pittsburgh's fan base is second to no one. From the NFL, NHL, MLB, NCAA football and basketball, to W.P.I.A.L. high school sports, "The City of Champions" has it all!
As Editor of Pittsburgh SportsNation, Mike Drakulich provides top notch opinions and coverage of the Pittsburgh Steelers, Pittsburgh Penguins, Pittsburgh Pirates, Pitt Panthers football & basketball, Robert Morris Colonials basketball, and Duquesne Dukes basketball, as well as all sports teams that represent Western Pennsylvania, including WPIAL High School Football.
For a refreshing view of sports, mixed with humor and uncensored opinions, check out Pittsburgh SportsNation today on Facebook, Twitter @PghSportsNation and videos with over 1,000,000 views on YouTube!