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The Calm Before the Storm: Super Bowl Week

Whether+you+watch+for+the+commercials+or+the+game%2C+everyone+gets+excited+for+the+Super+Bowl
Whether you watch for the commercials or the game, everyone gets excited for the Super Bowl

Whether you watch for the commercials or the game, everyone gets excited for the Super Bowl

Lindsey Bowers

Lindsey Bowers

Whether you watch for the commercials or the game, everyone gets excited for the Super Bowl

Topher Wagner, Sentry Staff Reporter

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After 266 games, thousands of points scored and countless memorable moments, the 2016-2017 National Football League (NFL) season is coming to a close, culminating in Super Bowl LI. At the start of every new season, all 32 teams have different reasons for optimism. Whether it’s a new coach or an exciting playmaker, every team has reasons to believe that they could go all the way to win the coveted Lombardi Trophy. However, with February upon us, only two teams are left standing: the New England Patriots and the Atlanta Falcons. While many storylines have dominated the week leading up to the Super Bowl, how each got to Super Bowl LI are very different stories.

Less than two months before the start of the current NFL season, Tom Brady announced that he was dropping his lawsuit with the league and would accept his four game suspension in the Deflategate scandal. This 18 month investigation proved to be an arduous process for both sides with Goodell stopping at nothing to make sure Brady and the Patriots would be punished for allegedly illegally deflating footballs in the 2014 American Football Conference (AFC) championship game. The ongoing feud between Brady and Goodell proved to be a defining moment in the season as Brady lit up the league to the tune of 28 touchdowns and only two interceptions. One of the top passing offenses in the league as well as running back LeGarrette Blount’s league leading 18 rushing touchdowns propelled the Patriots to a 14-2 record, good for best in the NFL. The balance of this team cannot be understated with the Patriots’ also having the number one scoring defense. Based on the numbers alone it seems it would take a true juggernaut to take down the champions of the AFC come Super Bowl Sunday. Unfortunately for the Patriots, that team may lie in Atlanta.

Going into the 2016 NFL season, the Atlanta Falcons locker room was a cloud of uncertainty. Following a promising 5-0 start in 2015, the Falcons imploded, losing six straight at one point and eventually finishing the season out of the playoffs at 8-8. A vast regression by quarterback Matt Ryan led many to question whether or not he would be the QB to lead the team to their first Super Bowl win. With the defending National Football Conference (NFC) champions, the Carolina Panthers, in their division, things looked truly bleak for the Falcons. With doubt in the eyes of many, with  one of the worst defenses in the league, Ryan played with his back against the wall putting together a Most Valuable Player (MVP) caliber season in arguably the most dynamic offense in the league. In the past, All-Pro wide receiver (WR) Julio Jones was the centerfold of a pass first offense; however, behind the mind of offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan, Ryan elevated offensive players around him and be one of the best passers in the league.

With the Super Bowl set, a matchup like this will define the legacies of all that are involved. Brady will have much to play for as he looks to win his fifth super bowl and cement his legacy as the greatest QB of all time. Ryan on the other hand is trying to bring his city its first championship since 1995. On one of the biggest stages of the quarterbacks’ respective careers, the final game of the NFL season promises to be one for the ages.

 

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The Calm Before the Storm: Super Bowl Week