It’s just about time for the biggest game of them all. Super Bowl 51 kicks off this Sunday at 6:30 PM ET on FOX, featuring the four-time champion New England Patriots taking on the Atlanta Falcons, who have reached the Super Bowl for just the second time in team history. The Patriots are 3-point favorites at press time with a total of 59.

That’s a record total for the Big Football Game. It speaks to the quality of the two offenses, the best in the NFL according to the stats, but it also says something about the venue. Houston’s NRG Stadium will host, and even if the league decides to open the retractable roof, the weather conditions at game time should be ideal for both teams to go on the attack. That ought to make for a very entertaining matchup – and a busy Super Bowl betting market, too.

We’ve Met Before

Most of the action in the first week of betting was on the Patriots (16-2 SU, 15-3 ATS). They have the edge in experience, winning all four of their championship rings with Bill Belichick as head coach and Tom Brady at quarterback. But they haven’t always lived up to market expectations. New England is 4-2 SU and 2-4 ATS at the Super Bowl, and if the betting public keeps pouring money on the Pats this weekend, the odds could move from –3 to –3.5 before kick-off, making their job even harder this Sunday.

The Falcons (13-5 SU, 12-6 ATS) are something of a surprise coming out of the NFC. This was their first winning season since 2012, and just their second under head coach Dan Quinn. However, Quinn has been to the Super Bowl before, and he knows a thing or two about the Patriots. Quinn was the defensive co-ordinator for the Seattle Seahawks when they won Super Bowl 48, and again when they lost to New England at Super Bowl 49.

That experience could make all the difference this time around. The Falcons started the year with one of the worst defenses in the NFL, but they improved as the season wore on. At the same time, New England’s offense went through some changes; TE Rob Gronkowski (back) was lost for the season, but the running game improved with the return of RB Dion Lewis from knee surgery. Atlanta’s secondary has been especially good under Quinn. Both teams have mediocre defensive lines, but if the Falcons can contain Lewis and Blount, maybe Sunday’s football game won’t be a shootout after all.


*Odds as of February 2, 2017