This Sunday the NFL season will reach its finale with Super Bowl LI in Houston, TX. While the yearly spectacle is a must-watch for all dedicated sports fans, many tuning in for the traditional unveiling of the new crop of commercials or Lady Gaga's halftime show may not be as familiar with who's actually playing in the game. For that reason we have a quick cheat sheet that could help save you from mockery at your Super Bowl party this weekend.
Who's playing in the game?
Are they any good?
The Patriots held the best record in the league, winning 14 out of 16 games in the regular season. The Falcons won 11 out of 16 games and had the second best offense in the league.
Who are their star players?
The biggest name in the game is Tom Brady, widely recognized as one of the best quarterbacks of all-time he is playing in his 7th career Super Bowl with The Patriots. The Falcons are led by their quarterback Matt Ryan, the presumptive league MVP of this season, who makes his first Super Bowl appearance in his 8-year career.
Have these teams won the Super Bowl before?
The Patriots have won four Super Bowls in 8 prior appearances. They won in 2001, 2003, 2004, and 2014, with all four wins being won by Brady and his coach Bill Belichick. The Falcons have only made 1 prior appearance during the 1998 season, losing that game to the Denver Broncos.
Important storylines of the game:
The lasting impact of Deflategate and Tom Brady's legacy
During the Patriot's 2014 Super Bowl run, Tom Brady reportedly asked for his footballs to be partially deflated so that they'd be easier to throw. Considered a form of cheating, Brady was suspended four games for his actions, after a long, contentious appeal process Brady acquiesced and served his suspension at the start of this season. Now Brady has a chance to be the first quarterback ever to win his fifth Super Bowl, which many believe would cement his legacy as the greatest QB of all time despite the suspension. Expect the lingering effect of the controversy to be a big point of discussion during the game's broadcast.
The Falcon's unexpected run
While the Patriots were among the presumptive Super Bowl favorites entering the season, The Falcons and entered this season as long shots to make the big game. But when their conference rivals The Carolina Panthers regressed after their own Super Bowl run last season, the Falcons were able to ride their dynamic offense to a surprise Super Bowl bid, beating former Super Bowl champion Seattle Seahawks and Green Bay Packers along the way. Still many are viewing them as a David facing The Goliath that is the New England Patriots' dynasty.
Can we get one exciting game?
One of the most prominent aspects of this year's playoffs has been the overwhelming number of blowout wins thus far. Both the Patriots and the Falcons have thus far heavily outscored all their opponents, never letting their games become too competitive, or well interesting. There is some hope that the Super Bowl will give us a high scoring shoot out to close the season out on but it certainly hasn't been a thrilling month of football in the lead up to the game.