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Pick With Kent: Super Bowl Edition

February 3, 2017 GMT

OK, let me get this off my chest right up front. I’m not a fan of either team playing in this game they call Super Bowl LI (come on, make it simple..just call it Super Bowl 51 because most of us don’t know Roman numerals anyway). But me not being a fan of either team makes no difference. There are millions of NFL fans around the world who’s favorite team isn’t in this game either, but they watch it for the commercials like everyone else. I just realized today that I haven’t talked to a single person around here lately that likes the Patriots. And let me be clear: I don’t dislike the Patriots OR the Falcons. I’m just not a fan of either. But when you chat with as many people as I do, specifically about this game, and not one individual is rooting for New England that says something to me. It’s similar to the NASCAR crowd. Millions of racing fans voice their dislike of drivers such as Jimmy Johnson and Jeff Gordon because, in their prime, they won nearly every other race. Johnson’s still at it. And folks like you and I get tired of seeing the same old team or the same old faces winning all the time. Alright, let’s talk about the game. I’ve beat around the bush long enough. First, the oddities of the Super Bowl. Did you know that anyone can place a bet on anything associated with the Super Bowl. If it happens from pre-game to post game, you can bet on it. If I were a betting man- which I’m not- I would probably be inclined to place a bet on whether or not Beyonce will take the stage at some point during Lady Gaga’s halftime performance. Houston is her hometown after all. And the last time the Super Bowl was in Houston Janet Jackson had her infamous wardrobe malfunction, so who’s to say something similar doesn’t happen this Sunday? I don’t believe there’ll be any clothing issues when Luke Bryan performs the Star Spangled Banner before the game. But I’m sure there are thousands of women out there hoping. By the way, Gaga has invited 90-year old crooning legend Tony Bennett to join her for a song sometime during her halftime show. That alone should be worth watching. When I say you can bet on just about anything pertaining to the Super Bowl, I’m not kidding. I’m telling you, you can make or lose money on just about anything this Sunday. So what do you wanna bet on? How long the national anthem will last, who will score the first touchdown and how they will score it, how many times Bill Belichick will have an assistant steal signals from the Falcons coordinators, how many total points will be scored in the game, or how long Lady Gaga’s halftime show will last? Most of those are true: I might have made one up. But you get the point. This is, by far, the biggest betting day of the year. More money will change hands Sunday than any single Walmart store in Atlanta or Boston does all year. Ok, let’s actually talk about the game itself now. After all, there is a game squeezed in there somewhere. Right? This is the record ninth Super Bowl appearance for the Patriots. It’s Super Bowl No. 2 for Atlanta. And what a fabulous way to send the Georgia Dome into retirement than the Falcons advancing to the Big Game in their last contest there. Many of you will remember the first Super Bowl Appearance didn’t go so well for Atlanta. They had to face some guy named Elway in his prime and lost 34-19 after upending the Minnesota Vikings 30-27 in Minneapolis two weeks earlier in the NFC championship game. Do you realize Deion Sanders was still playing for the Cowboys that season and led the NFL in punt return yard average. Dan Reeves was the head coach for the Falcons in 1998 but was diagnosed with multiple blockages to his coronary arteries and had to have quadruple bypass surgery toward tye end of the season, around week 14. Then-defensive coordinator Rich Brooks filled in for Reeves during his absence before the head coach returned to the sideline by week 17, well ahead of schedule. Can you even remember who the quarterback was that year? I had to go back and look. Chris Chandler was the starter and was backed up by Steve DeBerg. Jamal Anderson was the feature back for the Falcons and Alabama fans will remember that linebacker Cornelius Bennett was the leader of the Falcons’ defense. I’m sure a lot of you younger people reading this are saying “who are these guys. I’ve never heard of them before.” That’s the point. This Atlanta team is new to all this Super Bowl stuff. And that may play to their advantage if they go out and play loose and have fun and not worry about messing up on the biggest stage in the world or who’s taking their picture or has a camera on them. The Patriots are used to the whole Super Bowl thing. Been there, done that. And with Tom Brady at the controls they will be the favorites. I’m not gonna bore you with all the numbers: where each team ranks in the league in offense or defense. None of that matters Sunday. What does matter is who plays better and makes the fewest mistakes. Most prognosticators are saying that will be New England. The ’Pats are early three-point favorites and the early over/under is 58 points. That feels about right to me considering the two teams playing in this game. Agree with me or not, New England was plain lucky to win the title against the Seahawks two years ago, and I believe this year they go down. (Kent’s Pick: Atlanta 31, New England 30)