5 Things I’ll be Watching for in Super Bowl 51

By Ryan Decker

Super Bowl Sunday is finally here!

Graphic created by Ryan Decker 

All the hype, all the analysis, all the waiting, is finally over.

New England vs. Atlanta – one team with all the playoff success in the world, and the other having still never won it all.

The predictions are all in, and from everything we’ve seen and heard throughout the last 13 days, this has the making to be one of the most exciting Super Bowls in the history of the game.

I’ll give you my winner and final score prediction at the end, but before we get to that, here are five things I’ll be watching for today during Super Bowl 51.


  1. Who will win the quarterback battle?

I’ll start off with an easy one; something we’re all going to be watching.

Tom Brady vs. Matt Ryan. The “man on a mission” vs. this year’s MVP.

Brady is the proven vet, obviously, going after ring number 5, and trying to become without a doubt the best QB in NFL history.

On the other sideline is Ryan who, although is one of the best quarterbacks in the game today, has struggled at times in the big moments, and is trying to bring Atlanta it’s first Lombardi Trophy, which would ultimately get Ryan out of the shadows of Michael Vick’s on-field legacy in ATL.

Ryan had the better deep threats with Julio Jones and Mohamed Sanu, but Brady arguably has the more well rounded receiving corps with Julian Edelman, Danny Amendola, Martellus Bennett and the recent development of Chris Hogan.

Whoever between the two – Brady or Ryan – has the better game, certainly will put their team in the driver’s seat.

  1. Which team will get off to a better start?

In a game that is predicted to be as high scoring as some are saying it could be, whichever team comes out of the games firing on all cylinders will have the advantage.

We saw it from the Falcons in the NFC Championship Game, they opened the game with 10 points in the first quarter and added 14 in the second to take a 24-0 lead into the locker room at halftime, and the Packers had no ability to respond.

Now, I’m not at all suggesting either team will hang 20 or more points on the board before the other team scores. However, if either the Pats or the Falcons could jump out to a 10-0 or 14-3 lead through the first quarter, you might know the final outcome of the game at that point.

Considering each team has such high-powered offenses that can put up points at will, and possess run games that can drain the clock on command, it will be much, much easier to play this game in the lead than trying to play from behind.

  1. What company has the best commercial?

You didn’t think I’d forget about the commercials did you?

Of course not.

For some, the commercials in between the action is what makes the Super Bowl even more watchable, or maybe even watchable period, depending on their interest in the sport.

Me personally, they add to the event.

Sadly, the TV timeout ads haven’t been as good the last two or three years as they had been in year’s past. I hope all these companies brought their A games this year.

You might as well make a good commercial if it’s going to cost you $5 million to air a single 30-second advertisement.

Here’s what I’m hoping for:

  • At least one Coca-Cola, polar bear commercial – they’re classics, and a personal favorite of mine
  • Budweiser Clydesdales – again, a classic commercial, sometimes even one that will pull at the heartstrings a little
  • Crazy Doritos commercial – Doritos is known for putting together some of the funniest ads on Super Bowl Sunday (and some even better ones that aren’t FCC appropriate). I’m hoping for a great one.
  • No more puppy monkey baby – enough said
  1. Is Dan Quinn’s defense up for the task?

Atlanta head coach Dan Quinn already has played the mental chess match against Tom Brady in the Super Bowl once.

Quinn, then defensive coordinator in Seattle, shutout the Pats in the first and third quarters, but gave up a pair of touchdowns in each the second and fourth periods.

Brady completed a 22-yard scoring play to Rob Gronkowski, as well as a pair of short touchdown passes to Amendola and Edleman.

Quinn and company also picked off “Tommy Terrific” twice. However, it was the Patriots that went on to win Super Bowl XLIX, 28-24.

Considering he has a better offense to work for him, Quinn may be going into this game hoping for Brady to complete just one pass to one of the Atlanta defenders. Any more than that – great–, any less than that – it’s going to be difficult.

Aside from that, the Falcon’s are extremely young on the defensive side of the ball, which isn’t exactly a characteristic you want to have when going up against a QB appearing in his seventh Super Bowl.

  1. Anything but Lady Gaga

I’m not sure who’s in charge of selecting the halftime performers at the Super Bowl, maybe it’s the same guy that decides whether or not we have six more weeks of winter, but whoever it is didn’t chose correctly.

Sorry to break it to you, NFL, but the majority of people who will be watching the game will be turning the channel during the halftime performance, myself included.

So instead of watching Lady Gaga, fans could catch a re-run of AMC’s The Walking Dead, flip to ESPN and catch one of two 30 for 30s, or if you’re looking for something silly to watch while you head back to the kitchen for your second or third helping, click over to Shrek 2 on TBS.

I’m serious.

The Super Bowl is an intense game, it may be necessary for some fans to unwind with an animated comedy in between halves.


I promised you my prediction on the game, so here it is.

Atlanta get’s off to a hot start and jumps out to an early lead. New England ties things up in the second quarter to send the two teams back to the locker rooms deadlocked at 24 apiece.

Atlanta comes out swinging in the third and gets momentum back on its side.

Tom ties the game up with a touchdown pass early in the fourth, but Matt Ryan wins the game with a touchdown pass late in the game.

Final Score: 38-35 Falcons win


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