With the Patriots officially back in the Super Bowl, many people are already salivating over the idea of Roger Goodell handing Tom Brady and the Deflategate Patriots the Vince Lombardi Trophy.
Well, slow down.
“They’ve fallen short in Super Bowl games before against quality pass rushes and teams that were riding under the radar, just as the Giants were in 2007 and 2011, so they’ve got their work cut out for them,” Bleacher Report NFL writer Brad Gagnon said on CBS Sports Radio’s Ferrall on the Bench. “(I’m) a little bit (surprised the Patriots are favored).”
Indeed, the Patriots opened as three-point favorites over Atlanta.
“It’s still New England, it’s still Tom Brady, and I think that the pressure factor has sort of made me wonder if eventually the Falcons are going to crack,” Gagnon said. “But I almost feel as though that’s even shifted in favor of Atlanta now because the Patriots are faced with the pressure of losing three Super Bowls under Belichick and Brady, and having that so-so 4-3 Super Bowl record, as ridiculous as that sounds, versus trying to become the first ever quarterback-coach duo to win five Super Bowls. I think that adds a lot of pressure, whereas the Falcons are viewed as a small underdog. No one on the planet thought (the Falcons) would be in this game, (and they have) almost nothing to lose. (They’re playing with) house money, which could be advantageous.”
Experienced sports bettors probably weren’t too surprised by the opening spread.
“When Vegas doesn’t know what to do, it goes with the slightly better, more experienced team by a field goal,” Gagnon said. “So I’ve been waiting to see from that standpoint if it’s going to shift. There’s been no development there yet in terms of how folks are reacting to the Vegas line, but I do get the feeling momentum is going to go toward Atlanta.”
Gagnon believes anything can happen in Super Bowl LI, despite what many people think. In fact, he may even give the edge to the Falcons.
“I do think that there are some people who feel this is predetermined, predestined, just in terms of the Patriots are going to get that fifth Super Bowl, and I do think a lot of folks overlook what happened against the Giants in those two losses,” he said. “Also, just the fact that they’ve never won a Super Bowl easily. All these games, all six of them, they’ve never won a single Super Bowl in the Brady-Belichick era by more than four points. They won the first three by a field goal apiece against Carolina, St. Louis and Philadelphia. So they’ve always had a little bit of trouble in terms of winning these Super Bowls when they’ve been seen as rather large favorites. I think this Falcons team in a vacuum right now is better than either of those Giants teams that beat them.”