While the Browns season ended somewhere around late August, the NFL has reached its grand finale with Super Bowl 51. The New England Patriots and Atlanta Falcons will do battle on Sunday in a contest of NFL supremacy. With Cleveland sadly watching from their couches (again) we at Waiting for Next Year will (again) examine the options (again) and determine whom the discerning Clevelander should support in the title game (again).
Everyone loves rooting for the little guy. Whether it’s David, Luke Skywalker, or Kay Felder there is something special about seeing the overlooked or undervalued team spring an unexpected victory. So if you’re looking for the Big Bad, cast your eyes northeast. Per CBS Sports, New England is a three point favorite over Atlanta. The Patriots were a juggernaut all season, even without Tom Brady for the month of September. The Pats finished 14-2, and won their playoff games by eighteen and nineteen points respectively. Furthermore, Five Thirty Eight gives them a 61% chance to win the Lombardi Trophy. The Falcons, however, are not here by accident. Atlanta won the NFC South with an 11-5 record, and defeated both Seattle (by sixteen) and Green Bay (by twenty-three). So if you like to roll with the little guy, it’ll be the Falcons.
Atlanta – 1, New England – 0.
Longest Active Drought
While Cleveland no longer feels burdened with a half century championship drought (shout out to the WORLD CHAMPION Cleveland Cavaliers), the city no doubt sympathizes with cities and clubs that have long waited in vain for the chance to host a parade. In this category it’s no contest. New England has appeared in six Super Bowls this century, winning four of them. Their most recent triumph came two short years ago against the Seattle Seahawks. Atlanta on the other hand is hurting for some sports glory. The Falcons have never won the Super Bowl in franchise history. They appeared opposite the Denver Broncos in 1998, and put up some fight before falling 34-19. Georgians have been waiting for next year since.
Atlanta – 2, New England – 0.
When in doubt, it’s always safe to root for the Buckeyes. Surprisingly there is a lack of Ohio based talent on both sides of the field this Sunday. The only participant who played college ball in the Buckeye State is fifth year Patriot Nate Ebner. The Dublin native primarily made his mark on special teams, but did lead the NFL with 19 special teams tackles. He played every game in 2016 and even earned 2nd team All-Pro honors from the Associated Press. So if you are completely hell bent on rooting for as many Ohioans as possible, then the Patriots are your team. Atlanta – 2, New England – 1.
Aesthetics should not be taken lightly. The logos and style of a team can do a lot to attract or repel a casual fan. The Falcons’ logo has remained largely unchanged since the team’s founding in 1966. A red and black bird reaching a talon forward with wings splayed down. Squint and it even sort of looks like the letter “F.”
The Patriots’ current logo has become synonymous with the team’s success. A decapitated head with a flowing mane/three corner hat face. It’s nice, but nothing to write home about.
Their old Boston Patriots logo on the other hand is a thing of beauty. Can’t you just picture it? Washington in the shotgun. Hamilton in the slot. Here comes Arnold on the blitz! Poetry. The visuals favor the Pats.
Atlanta – 2, New England – 2.
Browns fans have long memories which leaves them with harsh feelings against the teams that did them wrong. Surprisingly the Browns have a winning record against the Falcons, leading the all-time series 11-3. I’m as surprised as you. Cleveland has won three of four against the Birds since returning in 1999, claiming the most recent matchup 26-24 in 2014. The Patriots, on the other hand, have been much more even against Cleveland. The Browns lead the series 12-11, but of late it has been almost all Pats. The Browns are only 2-7 against Belicheck’s Boys since 1999, and have dropped two straight. So if you’re looking to stick it to the school bully, pull for the Falcons.
By a final score of 3-2 we can say without reservation that the Atlanta Falcons are the team most worthy of your support during Super Bowl 51. And I know that the Braves bested the Indians in the 1995 World Series, and rooting for any team from Atlanta may seem unappetizing. But we need to put those feelings aside and consider the greater reality that Patriots fans are really annoying, and football is more fun when they are disappointed. If nothing else, don’t forget that Tom Brady went to Michigan.