Super Bowl LI: Sunday, Feb. 5, 6:30 p.m. Eastern.
TV: Fox, Joe Buck and Troy Aikman in the booth, Erin Andrews and Chris Myers on the sidelines.
Location: NRG Stadium in Houston, the home of the Texans. The Super Bowl was also held there in 2004, and the Patriots won, beating the Panthers, 32-29, on Adam Vinatieri’s late field goal. The game is also remembered for the Janet Jackson-Justin Timberlake “wardrobe malfunction” at halftime.
The Super Bowl was also played at Rice Stadium in Houston in 1974.
Teams: New England Patriots (14-2 regular season) versus Atlanta Falcons (11-5). The Patriots are 4-4 in the big game, including a win two seasons ago. The Falcons are playing for only the second time in their history, having lost to the Broncos, 34-19, in 1999.
Line: Patriots by 3. The over/under is 58½, the highest ever for a Super Bowl and a big jump from last year’s 43½.
Quarterbacks: Statistically, the two best in the game this season. Tom Brady, 39, ranked second in adjusted yards per pass, Matt Ryan, 31, ranked first. Brady had the lowest interception rate in the league, just two in 432 passes. Ryan led in touchdown percentage, with 38 in 534 passes.
Offensive weapons: The Pats’ top rusher is LeGarrette Blount, who led the league in running touchdowns. Brady’s favorite target was Julian Edelman.
The Falcons’ top rusher was Devonta Freeman, and Ryan’s favorite target was Julio Jones, who was the only player this season with more than 100 receiving yards a game.
Other stars: Linebacker Dont’a Hightower, safety Devin McCourty and special teamer Matthew Slater were all selected to the Pro Bowl for the Patriots. Center Alex Mack, linebacker Vic Beasley and kicker Matt Bryant made the team for the Falcons. Beasley led the league in sacks with 15½.
Injuries: After playing eight games, Rob Gronkowski, the Patriots’ superstar tight end, was knocked out for the season with a herniated disk. Another tight end, Martellus Bennett, has ankle problems but is expected to play.
For the Falcons, Jones has a sprained toe and Mack a sprained ankle, but both are likely to play.
Offenses: Both teams have high-powered attacks, led by the Falcons, who ranked first in points, yards per play and yards per pass. The Patriots were third, fifth and third in those categories.
Defenses: The Patriots ranked first in points surrendered, but the Falcons’ defense was not nearly as good, ranking a distant 27th.
After stints at William & Mary, V.M.I. and Hofstra, Quinn landed on the staff of the 49ers in 2001 and made it to the top job last season with the Falcons. He was the defensive coordinator of the Seahawks in their Super Bowl years of 2013 and 2014, making this his third Super Bowl in four years.
Owners: Robert Kraft, the Patriots’ owner, got his start in sports ownership in the 1970s with the Boston Lobsters of World Team Tennis. The team folded a few years later. The Falcons’ owner, Arthur Blank, was one of the founders of Home Depot. At 74, he has been seen busting out dance moves after Falcons victories this year.
Officials: Carl Cheffers will referee his first Super Bowl. According to Pro-Football-Reference, he called more penalties than average for six consecutive seasons before falling to average this last season.
Cities: In addition to the Patriots’ four titles, in this century the Red Sox have won three World Series, and the Celtics and the Bruins have a title each. Atlanta, which has had baseball and football teams since 1966 and basketball since 1968, has just a single title, the 1995 World Series. Its hockey team, the Thrashers, made the playoffs once in 12 years, then moved to Winnipeg. An earlier hockey team, the Flames in the 1970s, were a little better, but never won a title before moving to Calgary.
Coin toss: George Bush and Barbara Bush will participate. The Patriots will get to make the call. They always call heads.
Entertainment: At halftime, Lady Gaga follows in the footsteps of Madonna, Bruce Springsteen, Prince and U2. Also the New Kids on the Block, Up With People and an impersonator-magician named Elvis Presto. No guest performers have been announced yet, though based on previous years there could be surprises. Before the game, Phillipa Soo, Renée Elise Goldsberry and Jasmine Cephas Jones, from the original cast of “Hamilton,” will perform “America the Beautiful.” Luke Bryan will sing the national anthem.
Roman numerals: Last season, the league dropped a long tradition and made the game Super Bowl 50 rather than Super Bowl L. This year, Roman numerals are back. Enjoy Super Bowl LI!
Article was copied from https://www.nytimes.com